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Papua New Guinea prime minister slams Biden for claiming his uncle was eaten by cannibals in WWII

Biden had insinuated that his uncle, 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr. was eaten by humans in the Oceanic nation after his plane was gunned down on the island, because his body was never found.

Published: April 22, 2024 4:40pm

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea slammed President Joe Biden on Monday, after the president suggested that his uncle was killed and eaten by cannibals in the country during World War II.

Biden made the comments multiple times last week in Pennsylvania. Biden insinuated that his uncle, 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., who was an Army pilot, was eaten by humans in the Oceanic nation after his plane was gunned down, because his body was never found.

"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 said in a speech at the United Steelworkers headquarters, according to Fox News.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said he was disappointed in the comments, and claimed his country was not at fault for World War II and was needlessly pulled into the global war in the 1940s. 

"President Biden’s remarks may have been a slip of the tongue; however, my country does not deserve to be labeled as such," Marape said in a statement. "The remains of WWII lie scattered all over PNG, including the plane that carried President Biden’s uncle. Perhaps, given President Biden’s comments and the strong reaction from PNG and other parts of the world, it is time for the USA to find as many remains of World War II in PNG as possible, including those of servicemen who lost their lives like Ambrose Finnegan."

Marape said that his country still lives in fear of bombs that did not detonate in the second world war, and that it is full of abandoned skeletons, planes, and shipwrecks left over from the 20th century conflict.

The White House has defended the president’s statements, even though Biden’s story differs from the official record documented by the Pentagon. The Department of Defense reports that Finnegan’s plane crashed into the ocean after both engines failed, according to the Associated Press. He was one of four passengers on a transport plane. One person had survived the crash, but the plane, Finnegan, and other passengers were never found.

Papua New Guinea is emerging as a possible strategic United States ally in the Oceanic region, as tensions between the U.S. and China heighten. 

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