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Chute! Bush to Make Good on Vow to Leap Out of Plane

March 25, 1997|From Times Wire Services

YUMA, Ariz. — It's been five decades since George Bush had to leap out of a plane. Now he's doing it on purpose.

The former president plans to make a parachute jump today to fulfill a pledge he made to himself after his Navy plane was shot down in World War II. "He is looking forward to it very much," said Jim McGrath, a spokesman for Bush.

Bush, who made his first parachute jump out of a crippled airplane over the Pacific Ocean during the war, will jump from a civilian aircraft over the Yuma Proving Ground, Army spokesman Doug Smith said Monday.

"According to President Bush's people, President Bush made a promise when he bailed out of his plane in World War II in the Pacific that someday he would make a parachute jump out of an airplane that wasn't an emergency jump," Smith said.

Bush, 72, renewed that pledge at a recent meeting of the U.S. Parachute Assn., where he was given a vintage World War II parachute.

He will make the jump with several civilian members of the parachute association and three experts from the Golden Knights, the Army's precision parachuting team, Smith said. Two members of the Golden Knights will be beside the 41st president during the jump, holding onto a harness, said Chris Needels, one of the group's former commanders.

Bush, accompanied by his wife, Barbara, arrived in Yuma on Monday afternoon for some training with the Army experts, Smith said.

Bush received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery after his torpedo plane was shot down over the Pacific by the Japanese in 1944.

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