The nation was stunned when FDR died unexpectedly on April 12, 1945 -- less than six months
after being elected to a fourth term in office. The death was unexpected because the president's
personal physician, VADM Ross McIntire, whenever asked, had proclaimed that FDR's health was
excellent. McIntire, an otolaryngologist and then surgeon-general of the U.S. Navy, must have
known FDR was gravely ill -- FDR's physical decay was plainly evident even to non-physicians
in the final months
FDR must have known, too,
and the FBI was interested in who among the public knew about his condition at the time of
the November 1944 election.
Given his ill health, why did FDR run for a fourth term? FDR told his
son he felt compelled to run because he had "to maintain a continuity of command in a
time of continuing crisis"
World War II was, after all, still raging in 1944. Was FDR justified in this decision? If McIntire
was an accomplice in the deception, was he acting for a greater good?
Today, no one can precisely say how much McIntire knew and when he knew
it. FDR's medical record, which was kept in a safe at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland,
has been missing since the president's death. VADM McIntire was one of three people with access
to the safe.