- Prior to his presidency, George H.W. Bush served in the US Navy as a pilot and flew on bombing missions against the Japanese during World War II.
- During a bombing attack against a Japanese island, Bush’s aircraft was hit with anti-aircraft fire.
- After releasing his payload, Bush ejected from his aircraft and was eventually rescued by a lifeguard submarine.
Prior to his presidency, George H.W. Bush served in the US Navy as a pilot, and he flew on bombing missions against the Japanese during World War II.
Bush learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour as a teen, and six months later, on his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the US Naval Reserve. He went on to become one of the youngest aviators in the Navy and was assigned a photographic officer with a torpedo squadron.
During an attack against Chichi Jima, a heavily fortified island that Japanese forces used for communications and supplies, Bush’s aircraft, a TBM Avenger, was hit with anti-aircraft fire. Bush’s two crewmembers were killed in the attack.
With the aircraft’s engine on fire, Bush released his payload against his target, which was a radio tower. He then ejected from his aircraft, parachuted into the ocean, and waited on an inflatable raft for four hours. Bush was eventually rescued by the USS Finback, a lifeguard submarine.
Following Japan’s surrender in 1945, Bush was honorably discharged from active duty and went on to attend Yale University.
Bush died at 94, on Friday night. He is survived by his five children, 17 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and two siblings. The White House’s flags were lowered to half staff.
The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) was christened in honour of Bush in 2006.
“His legacy lives on in those who don the cloth of our great nation and in the mighty warship which bears his name, [CVN 77 George H.W. Bush],” the US Naval Air Forces said in a tweet. “May he Rest In Peace.”
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