George Herbert Walker Bush, the first vice president in 150 years to ascend to the presidency by election, has died at age 94. He was the oldest living former president.
But once he was the youngest aviator in the Navy, enlisting right after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific. Once his plane controls malfunctioned and he had to land in the water. Later, his bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he managed to still drop his carbo of bombs before he ejected. Driving alone at sea on a raft, he was rescued by the USS Finback, a submarine.
Bush was born on June 12, 1924, at Milton, Mass. He grew up in Greenwich and attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover. Before graduation, he decided to enlist and was sworn into the Navy on his 18th birthday.
His first combat mission was over Wake Island.
President Donald Trump has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff for 30 days. Gov. Bill Walker complied and lowered the flags on Saturday.
A state funeral is being arranged. Bush’s remains will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, and Bush at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Trump issued a statement describing Bush ’41 as one who “always found a way to set the bar higher,” whether as captain of the Yale baseball team or being a naval aviator, or serving in Congress, as ambassador to China, the head of the CIA, Vice
“With sound judgement, common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our Nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War. As President, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction,” Trump’s statement said.
“Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family—especially the love of his life, Barbara. His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause. Our hearts ache with his loss, and we, with the American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family, as we honor the life and legacy of 41.”
In his later years, Bush ’41 was loved for his colorful socks. Earlier this year, he touched the nation when he broke down and wept at his wife Barbara Bush’s funeral, as one of his love letters to her was read aloud by their son Jeb Bush. She died in April at age 92, and he was clearly brokenhearted by the loss.
Bush was an avid letter writer and in 2014, a compendium of many of his best letters were compiled in a memoir, “All the Best.”