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Joe Biden’s deep connection with PNG

Joe Biden - his uncle Ambrose was killed when his aircraft was shot down in PNG in World War II and his body never found


NOOSA – United States’ president-elect Joe Biden is well acquainted with Papua New Guinea – two of his uncles fought there in World War II and one was killed, his body never found.

“Australia looked to America, and a generation of Americans - including two of my uncles - responded,” Biden said during a visit to Australia as US vice president in 2016.

“Both in New Guinea, one killed and one went home badly injured,” he said.

Biden’s mother, Jean Finnegan Biden, from Scranton in Pennsylvania, Biden’s birthplace, had four brothers, all of whom tried to enrol in the Army the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in December 1941.

“Papua New Guinea, that's where my two uncles, ended up, in the Army Air Corps of the United States Army,” Biden said.

“My mother's number two brother, Ambrose Finnegan, is still remembered in Scranton as a leader. He was shot down, and his body was never found, in Papua New Guinea.

“And the other came home with malaria and was sick, off and on, for the better part of his life.”

Biden promisesIn his book, ‘Promises to Keep’, Biden wrote: “I remember as a kid I used to sit up in the attic where my grandpop had my uncles’ medals.

“And I used to sneak out of the house with this Army Air Corps patch in my pocket to [show] to everybody in the neighbourhood I grew up in - an old Irish-Catholic neighbourhood.

“The day after Pearl Harbour my mom's four brothers went down to sign up for war service. Three of them got in.

“My uncle Ambrose Jr was a flier killed in New Guinea. Jack and Gerry did their part. But the army wouldn't take Blewitt.”

Given that two of his uncles fought side by side with Australians in PNG in World War II, and that one of them died there, Biden has a strong personal connection with our region.

“We forged the foundations of our alliance in iron and baptised it in blood”, he says. “Our shared home is the Asia-Pacific”.

“My mom had an expression from the time I was a kid,” he said in a speech made in the US. “She said, ‘Joey, look at me. Look in my eyes’. And I’m not exaggerating my word as a Biden. She said, ‘Look at me. Remember you are defined by your courage and you’re redeemed by your loyalty’. That was her code.”


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Ross Wilkinson

And again, without wishing to be pedantic, because of the International Dateline, 7 December 1941 was actually 8 December our time and the Japanese declared war on the British first and opened the Pacific War by launching the invasion of Malaya approximately two hours before the attack on Pearl Harbour.

John Rosser


I don’t want to be pedantic but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was 7 December 1941. Assume the December 1942 reference above is one that Joe made during his Australian visit in 2016 or perhaps a subsequent typo. Either way not a good look.

Typo. Fixed. No need for the lecture - KJ

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