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George H. W. Bush
U. S. Navy aviator and 41st U. S. President

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Background
George H. W. Bush was born June 12, 1924 in Milton, MA.

Wartime History
On June 12, 1942 Bush enlisted in the U.S. Navy (USN) on his 18th birthday four days after graduating high school. Prior to enlistment, he considered enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as they accepted younger men. He was engaged to fiancée Barbara.

Click For EnlargementIn the Navy his serial number was 173464. He was trained as a Naval aviator learning to fly the TBF/TBM Avenger torpedo bomber and was stationed at NAS Fort Lauderdale in Florida. In January 1944 as an Ensign assigned to Torpedo Squadron 51 (VT-51) aboard USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) as part of Task Force 58 (TF-58).

As a member of the squadron, his first combat missions were in late May 1944. On June 19, 1944 he participated in the Marianas Turkey Shoot. On August 1, 1944, commissioned as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade). His regular gunner was Leo Nadeau.

Mission History
On September 2, 1944 took off piloting TBM Avenger 46214 as one of four Avengers on a bombing mission against against a radio installation on Chi Chi Jima (Father Island) in the Bonin Islands (Ogasawara Islands) off Japan. Over the target, hit by anti-aircraft fire and damaged. Flying eastward over the sea, Bush bailed out. His two crew went were lost and remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Bush bailed out successfully and landed in the sea unhurt and deployed his life raft.

Rescue
Click For EnlargementSole survivor Bush was spotted by friendly fighters that circled him to provide air cover. Four hours later, USS Finback (SS-230) on lifeguard duty arrived and crew members including Torpedoman First Class Donnet Kohler helped him aboard in documented by an 8mm movie camera. For the remainder of the month, Bush was a passenger aboard the submarine while it continued to patrol and serve on lifeguard duty to rescue other pilots. For his actions, Bush later earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for this mission.


For his actions on September 2, 1944, Bush earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for this mission. He also earned the Air Medal with two gold stars and his squadron earned the Presidential Unit Citation. In total, Lieutenant Junior Grade Bush logged 1,228 hours of flight time, 126 carrier landings and 58 combat missions and was honorably discharged during September 1945.

Postwar
Bush later became the 41st U. S. President serving from 1989-1993, the last World War II veteran to become president. In 1989, he attended the funeral of Emperor Hirohito and served during the 50th anniversary of the war.

In 2002, he traveled to Chi Chi Jima that aired as a television documentary that aired on CNN "A Flyboy's Story: George Bush in World War II". During his visit, he toured the wreckage of the radio station he bombed and met a former Japanese soldier Nobuaki "Warren" Iwatake who was stationed on the island and befriended a captured U.S. pilot. He also took a boat to the approximate area where he bailed out and landed in the sea until he was rescued. Bush said the trip helped relieve some of the thoughts and guilt he held and expressed his regret for loosing his two crew: John Delaney and Ted White. During the visit, he laid two wreaths on the sea in honor of each man.

In 2009 aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) was named in his honor,  the USN's 10th Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in service.

Memorials
On November 30, 2018 Bush passed away at aged 94. He will be buried at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, TX.

References
"The Slipstream Mark IV Edition" Ens. George H. W. Bush Aviation Cadet Class page 140 (second row 7th from left)
USN Air Medal Citation "for the fifth flight during the period of 23 May to 15 June 1944."
USN Air Medal Gold Star Citation "for the tenth flight during the period 16 June to 28 June 1944."
USN Air Medal 2nd Gold Star Citation "for the fifteenth flight during the period of 30 June to 25 July 1944."
USN Distinguished Flying Cross Citation "For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flights in line of his profession as pilot of a torpedo plane during attacks by United States Naval Forces against Japanese installations in the vicinity of Bonin Islands on 2 September 1944. He led one section of four planes division which attacked a radio station. Opposed by intense anti-aircraft fire, his plane was hit and set afire as he commenced his dive. In spite of smoke and flames from the fire in his plane, he continued in his dive and scored damaging bomb hits on the radio station, before bailing out of his plane. His courage and complete disregard for his own safety, both in pressing home his attack in the face of intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire, and in continuing in his dive on the target after being hit and his plane on fire contributed materially to the success of the squadron in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy service."
George H. W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum - George H. W. Bush Biography - World War II
Naval History and Heritage Command "Navy History and Heritage Command - Vice President Bush Calls World War II Experience Sobering" via Naval Aviation News 67 March-April 1985
Naval History and Heritage Command - George Herbert Walker Bush
Naval History and Heritage Command - George H. W. Bush (photos)
Naval History and Heritage Command - George Bush In World War II: A Short Bibliography
CNN "A Flyboy's Story: George Bush in World War II" George H. W. Bush travels to Chi Chi Jima 2002
FindAGrave - George Herbert Walker Bush (photos)
YouTube "U. S. Navy – President George H.W. Bush's Naval Service" December 3, 2018

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