Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Was Biden’s uncle eaten by cannibals near New Guinea in World War II? Here’s what the president said.

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WASHINGTON ― Was President Joe Biden‘s uncle eaten by cannibals? That appears to be what he suggested − twice − this week when he said the remains of his uncle, a military veteran who died during World War II in a plane crash off the New Guinea coast, were not recovered.

Biden’s telling differed from an account published by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which says Biden’s uncle, Ambrose Finnegan, and two other men “failed to emerge from the sinking wreck and were lost in the crash.”

Biden discussed the 1944 death of Finnegan, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces, after visiting a war memorial where Finnegan is honored in his hometown of Scranton, Pa. on Wednesday morning. He recounted the same story during remarks at the United Steelworkers union’s headquarters in Pittsburgh later in the afternoon.

Biden’s Uncle Bosie, ‘a hell of an athlete’

“And my uncle − they called him Ambrose. Instead of ‘Brosie,’ they called him ‘Bosie,’ Biden said. “My Uncle Bosie was a hell of an athlete, they tell me, when he was a kid. And he became an Army Air Corps, before the Air Force came along. He flew those single-engine planes as reconnaissance over war zones.”

“And he got shot down in New Guinea, and they never found the body because there used to be − there were a lot of cannibals − for real − in that part of New Guinea,” Biden continued.

The account from the DPAA says a crew of three men and one passenger, Finnegan, on May 14, 1944 left on an A-20 havoc from Momote Airfield, Los Negros Island, en route to Nadzab Airfield, New Guinea.

“For unknown reasons, this plane was forced to ditch in the ocean off the north coast of New Guinea. Both engines failed at low altitude, and the aircraft’s nose hit the water hard,” the account says.

In addition to the three men lost in the crash, one crew member survived and was saved by a passing barge, the DPPA report says, adding that, “An aerial search the next day found no trace of the missing aircraft or the lost crew members.”

Finnegan “has not been associated with any remains recovered from the area after the war and is still unaccounted-for,” according to the DPPA.

Biden brought up the circumstances of Finnegan’s death while discussing how former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican frontrunner, reportedly disparaged American soldiers killed in combat as “suckers” and “losers” while president, according to military officials who worked for Trump. Trump has denied the allegations.

“I’m not making that up. His staff who was with him acknowledge it today,” Biden said. in Pittsburgh. “‘Suckers’ and ‘losers.’ That man doesn’t deserve to have been the commander-in-chief for my son, my uncle.”

Biden’s oldest son, Beau Biden, was an Iraq War veteran who died of brain cancer in 2015.

A politician’s history of embellishment

Biden has a long history of embellishing stories on a number of subjects − whether it’s being arrested during civil rights protests, which the New York Times reported there’s no evidence of, the scale of a past kitchen fire at his Delaware home, or an oft-told exchange he had with an Amtrak conductor, who CNN reported was dead when Biden said the conversation occurred.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not defend the accuracy of Biden’s cannibalism account when asked Thursday whether Biden embellished the story.

“The president highlighted his uncle’s story as he made the case for honoring our sacred commitment to equip those we send to war and to take care of them and their families when they come home,” she said. “And as he reiterated, the last thing American veterans are are ‘suckers’ or losers.'”

Reach Joey Garrison on X @joeygarrison.

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