• When a local man died, the president he saved during WWII wrote his family a letter


    A local family has a special connection to late President George H.W. Bush -- a bond that formed 74 years ago during World War II.

    Mike Palenchar, who lives near Greensburg, told Channel 11 about his brother, Andrew, pulling the man who would become the 41st president of the United States out of the Pacific, after George H.W. Bush's torpedo plane had been shot down.

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    "My brother really loved this guy, and thought he was a great president," Palenchar said.

    Mike's brother Andrew and Bush-41 served in the U.S, Navy in World War 2.


    Andrew was onboard the submarine the "Finbak." Bush was a Navy flyer.

    The crew on the Finbak spotted George H.W. Bush floating in a raft and pulled him to safety.

    Mike and Andrew and his other three brothers all served in the U.S. military.

    Mike is proud of their service, but, as is typical of men of that generation, not overly boastful.

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    He happy to show Channel 11 the letter =Bush sent to the Finbak crew -- and to Andrew's daughter -- saying that he, Bush, had a special place in his heart for the men on that sub, that they were outstanding in every way and the best America had to offer.

    "I'm gonna have it hanging on the wall with all my other stuff," Palenchar said.

    When Andrew died last year, that's when Bush wrote to his daughter to express his gratitude to one of the men who saved his life all those years ago.

    Andrew served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.



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