Biden’s Uncle Probably Wasn’t Eaten by Cannibals, Actually

Anadolu via Getty Images
Anadolu via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Wednesday made a pretty shocking claim about why the body of his uncle, Ambrose Finnegan, was never found after Finnegan’s plane went down during World War II.

“He got shot down in New Guinea,” Biden said at the United Steelworkers Headquarters in Pittsburgh. “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.”

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Biden mentioned his uncle—known to his family as “Bosie”—in a speech which also criticized his election rival Donald Trump for reportedly calling U.S. veterans “suckers” and “losers.”

But Biden’s version of what happened to his uncle differs from the account provided by the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which says Finnegan was on board an A-20 Havoc plane that crashed on May 14, 1944, during a courier flight en route to New Guinea.

Rather than attributing the crash to any kind of hostile action, the DPAA says the aircraft went down for “unknown reasons” and was “forced to ditch in the ocean off the north coast of New Guinea.” It says both of the plane’s “engines failed at low altitude, and the aircraft's nose hit the water hard.” “Three men failed to emerge from the sinking wreck and were lost in the crash,” it adds. “One crew member survived and was rescued by a passing barge.”

A search the following day “found no trace of the missing aircraft or the lost crew members,” according to the DPAA, which says Finnegan “has not been associated with any remains recovered from the area after the war and is still unaccounted-for.”

White House spokesman Andrew Bates did not address the discrepancy between Biden’s version of events and the DPAA account when he issued a statement on the subject. “President Biden is proud of his uncle’s service in uniform,” Bates said, according to the Associated Press, adding that Finnegan “lost his life when the military aircraft he was on crashed in the Pacific after taking off near New Guinea.”

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