Veterans Day Spotlight: George Bush
George Bush graduated from high school on his 18th birthday, June 12, 1942, with World War II raging on two fronts. That same day, although he had been accepted at Yale University, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a seaman second class.
Bush served as a Naval Aviator in World War II, flying Avenger torpedo bombers in the Pacific. He was the youngest Navy pilot in World War II to earn his wings at that time.
Bush was shot down Sept. 2, 1944 during a bombing mission over a Japanese radio station at Chi Chi Jima in the Bonin Islands; Bush’s crew didn’t survive, but he parachuted to safety and was later rescued by the submarine USS Finback. For his service in World War II Bush received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to his carrier the USS San Jacinto.
Photos: U.S. Navy Pilot George Bush in the cockpit of an Avenger, 1942-1945; In Navy Uniform, 1942; Navy Pilot George Bush in VT-51 Avenger, 1944.
On this Veterans Day weekend, and everyday, thank you to all our nation’s veterans!
Did you know JFK had a formal White House visit with a troll? It’s true! Pictured, President Kennedy meets pilot Betty Miller (who completed the first solo flight by a woman across the Pacific Ocean) and “Dammit,” the troll doll who joined her for the trip!
Mrs. Miller received the Federal Aviation Agency’s Decoration for Exceptional Service from the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, Najeeb Halaby (right). (Credit: Abbie Rowe/JFK Library)
May 11, 1967. 5;15 PM-5:25 PM. The American Helicopter Society presents LBJ and Lady Bird with an award in recognition of “your nearly 20 years of pioneering and regular utilization of helicopters for reliable, time-saving transportation in all parts of the world.” Of course, LBJ’s use of the helicopter in the 1948 campaign was especially innovative—and terrifying.
Photos clockwise from top: Signing the Immigration Bill, 10/3/65 (C666-6A-WH65); ‘48 campaign (48-6-7-26); travelling in Malaysia, 10/30/66 (a3440-4); picking up the Humphreys at the Ranch, 11/9/64, and the ‘48 campaign (48-6-7-18).
The helicopter in POTUS history.
Air Force Thunderbirds Flyover
White House photographer Oliver Atkins created this composite photo of two images taken of President Nixon and family attending commencement ceremonies at the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium. They are watching a flyover by the Air Force’s Thunderbirds team. 6/4/1969.
-from the Nixon Library
Bill to Break the Sound Barrier
If you were the first woman to break the sound barrier, who would you pick to fly the chase plane behind you?
Jacqueline Cochran tapped her friend, Colonel Chuck Yeager for the task for her May 18, 1953 flight. A logical decision, since he was the first pilot to break the barrier in 1947.
Here is his final bill for his expenses, including the replacement of dead chickens that stampeded when her low-flying Sabre jet flew over a ranch.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Before they were Presidents -
During World War II, George Bush became a decorated naval pilot who flew torpedo bombers. In 1944, he was shot down over the island of Chi Chi Jima and rescued.
Pictured here is Navy Pilot George Bush in a VT-51 “Avenger,” 1944; and World War II aircraft and ships.
Charles Lindbergh captured the world’s imagination when he flew non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean by himself. Others had flown the distance as teams, but “Lucky Lindy” was the first pilot to do it alone. It took him 33 1/2 hours, between May 20-21, 1927.
Lindbergh was greeted with a hero’s return when he traveled back to the United States. In Washington D.C., President Coolidge welcomed his ship through the Chesapeake and the Potomac rivers with a grand entourage of warships and aircraft.
At the time, Herbert Hoover was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. This photo shows Hoover meeting Lindbergh in Washington D.C. after the trans-Atlantic flight.
-from the Hoover Library
On May 15, 1942, Lieutenant Ronald Reagan requested a transfer to the Army Air Force. As part of the transfer, Reagan was assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit. There, he worked on, and eventually starred in, film shorts to promote World War II efforts.
This movie still of Ronald Reagan in a P-40 airplane is from the Army Air Force training film “Identification of a Japanese Zero.” 1943
Vice President George Bush’s Notes Regarding the Assassination Attempt on President Ronald Reagan, 03/30/1981
This item is a Flight Information Card produced by the 89th Military Airlift Group for use aboard Air Force Two. In addition to information about a flight from Austin, Texas to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, there are notes handwritten by Vice President George H. W. Bush during the flight. These notes record the Vice President’s thoughts after being notified that there had been an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
Winston’s shell. Designer Graham demostrates Winston Churchill’s personal pressure chamber, created to enable him to make high-altitude flights safely. In: Life, 10 Feb 1947.
To protect the precious bulk of Winston Churchill in wartime a special one-man pressure chamber was built for the personal plane which carried him many times across the Atlantic and to Casablanca, Moscow and Yalta. Churchill was warned by his doctors that it was dangerous for a man of his age and physical condition to fly above 8,000 feet. The solution was a pressure chamber complete with ash trays, telephone and an air-circulation system good enough to prevent smoke from the ubiquitous cigar from fogging the atmosphere.