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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -
A Moss Bluff couple is sharing their story of a recent encounter with the late U.S. Sen. George McGovern. The former senator from South Dakota died Sunday at the age of 90 years old.
It was sad news to a lot of people McGovern touched throughout his career and life including Jerry and Jackie Webb. While on their honeymoon last month, the newlyweds made a stop at Mt. Rushmore where they had a chance meeting with McGovern.
"An elderly man came walking up in a suit and I kept telling Jackie - 'I know this man.' I kept looking at him and thinking he looks familiar," said Jerry.
It wasn't long until the familiar face came over and introduced himself to the Webbs.
"He walked over and I said, 'Sir, you look familiar.' He said, 'Son, I'm Senator George McGovern. I was the 1972 presidential candidate. Richard Nixon beat me out,' " Jerry said. "I said, 'My God - you were going to stop the Vietnam War.' He said, 'That's right.' I said, 'If you would have been elected, history would have been changed.' "
Despite representing South Dakota for four years in the House and 18 years in the Senate, Jerry said McGovern didn't really talk about politics. Instead, Jerry said he went into great detail about his career as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
"We watched helicopters fly over the presidents and he said he used to fly. I said, 'Really?' I said, 'What branch of the service?' He said he was in the Army Air Corps. He flew 35 combat missions in a B-24 Liberator in Germany and he was telling me how many times his planes had been hit. It was just amazing to hear that man flew that many missions and came out of it alive," Jerry said.
Jerry added, "All of his war stories were in great detail. I got the impression from talking to him that he was more interested in saving lives than taking lives because he had been to battle and through combat."
Jerry and Jackie said their visit with McGovern lasted a good 20 minutes. Before it was over, he graciously agreed to take a picture with them in front of Mt. Rushmore.
"I was just floored. You don't run across national heroes every day," Jerry said.
"He mentioned he had just turned 90 years old. But it was the date because it was my brother's birthday also - July 19. And he said he was going to live to be 100. And he looked like he was. He looked healthy," Jackie said.
The couple said the visit and meeting with McGovern is something they will always remember.