Former President Bush was the last United States President to fight in World War ll. In 1940 George Bush was an impressionalble 16 year old when he heard Henry Stimson give a speech about the coming threat from Nazism and facism, and that it was the duty of the country to stand up to it. Stimson told these Andover schoolboys, "Look, it's up to you, to you young leaders, future leaders of America, to stand up to evil and fight back." These were words Bush never forgot. Two years later at graduation ceremonies, Stimson urged the class to go to college before joining the service. Bush rejected both Stimson's advice and his father's to do so. Later that day, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. It was June 12,1942, his 18th birthday. He volunteered for this service rather than waiting for his draft number to be called, a service he considered "a duty, yes but truly and honor."
His father took him to Penn Station, and put his arms around him and had tears in his eyes when he said good-bye. That was, Bush recalled, the first time he saw his father cry. After completing a 10 month program, he was commissioned as an ensign with the U.S. Navy Reserve and became a pilot, the youngest at the time. In 1943, he was assigned to torpedo bomber squadron VT-51 as a photographic officer. In the spring of 1944, he was assigned to light carrier San Jacinto and in August he was promoted to Lieutenant JG.
On September 2nd Bush flew an Avenger aircraft to attack Japanese facilities on the island of Chichi Jima. Encountering heavy anti aircraft fire, his plane was hit and his engine caught fire. He struggled to complete his mission by dropping the bomb over the target. Both of his crew members were killed in action and he was forced to bail out and float for hours before being rescued by the submarine Finback. He returned to the San Jacinto in November. He continued flying missions in support of the American invasion of the Phillippines.
In all, George Bush flew 58 combat missions, logged 1,208 hours of flying time and made 126 carrier landings. He returned to the United States at the end of 1944 where he served at Norfork Navy Base as torpedo bomber instructor and later as the commander of torpedo bomber squadron VT-153. He was honorably discharged in Septemeber 1945. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 3 Air Medals and a Presidnetial Unit Citation.
The above information on President Bush is courtesy of: The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
The photos in this blog were taken with a Nikon D750 with the Nikon 28-300mm lens. I set the picture control on Vivid so I could punch up the color since it was an over cast day.