41st President George H.W. Bush Leaves an Incredible Legacy

George Bush, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd,, passed away in his Houston home Friday night at the age of 94.

His death came less than eight months after that of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush. President Donald Trump has declared Wednesday as a National Day of Mourning.

Mr. Bush served as vice president under 40th President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989, then was president from 1989 to 1993.

Previously, Bush was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas and an ambassador to the United Nations. He was also chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China and director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Persian Gulf War Hero

Bush will be remembered for many accomplishments over his long and distinguished career.

But perhaps his most memorable moment is his organization of a U.S.-led coalition to chase Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War.

Saddam Hussein had organized the Iraqi invasion of oil-rich Kuwait several months earlier.

Codenamed “Operation Desert Shield,” the war included an air campaign followed by a ground offensive that resulted in the complete withdrawal of Iraqi forces.

Youngest U.S. Naval Aviator

Born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts, George Herbert Walker Bush was raised in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

He was president of his senior class at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He also served on the editorial board of the school newspaper and captained the varsity baseball and soccer teams.

The 18-year-old enlisted in the U.S. Navy following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, becoming the country’s youngest naval aviator to that date.

In 1944, his task force was involved in the victorious Battle of the Philippine Sea. It was one of the largest air battles of World War II.

‘Why Had I Been Spared?’

During a mission on September 2, 1944, Bush piloted one of four Grumman TBM Avengers of Torpedo Squadron 51. They were attacking the Japanese installations on Chichijima, an island about 150 miles north of Iwo Jima.

His plane was hit by anti-aircraft flak and the engine caught on fire. After completing the attack, they flew several miles from the island before having to bail out.

Bush waited four hours in an inflatable raft while several fighters flew overhead protecting him.

Finally, the USS Finback submarine rescued him. After learning that some of his comrades had been killed during the mission, he asked, “Why had I been spared and what did God have for me?”

Bush then served briefly in the Philippines before being reassigned to a training wing for torpedo bomber crews at Norfolk Navy Base in Virginia. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in September 1945 following the Japanese surrender.

Bush Meets “The Babe”

Bush, who had married Barbara Pierce in 1945, then attended Yale University, where he was elected president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

A left-handed first baseman for the Yale baseball team, he served as captain and led his team to the first two College World Series. During his senior year, he met the retired Babe Ruth.

In 1948, he received a bachelor of arts degree in economics in an accelerated program at Yale.

Among the six children he fathered with Barbara was George W. Bush, who served two terms as the 43rd U.S. President, and Jeb Bush, who was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.

Oil Tycoon Enters Politics

Following his graduation from Yale, Bush moved his family to Texas. He began his oil business career as an oil field equipment salesman for Dresser Industries.

In the early 1950s, he started one oil company and co-founded another. He served as president of the Zapata Offshore Company from 1954 to 1964, then as chairman.

Now a millionaire, Bush entered politics in 1963 when he was elected chairman of the Harris County (Texas) Republican Party.

After losing an election for the U.S. Senate, he later got a seat in the House of Representatives from the 7th district of Texas in 1966.

From CIA Director to President

Bush served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, then was named CIA director by President Gerald Ford in 1976. He restored the agency’s credibility after a variety of accusations regarding unauthorized activities.

With Democrat Jimmy Carter now in the White House, Bush became involved with the First International Bank in Houston and was later a part-time professor at Rice University’s Jones School of Business.

Although Bush lost to Reagan in his campaign for the Republican nomination for president in 1980, he was selected as vice president.

After two terms as VP, Bush was elected president over Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988. The lopsided electoral college count was 426 to 111 in Bush’s favor.

Super Bowl LI Coin Toss

Among the many accolades and awards Bush received over the years were the Distinguish Flying Cross and three Air Medals for his service in World War II.

He was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1990. The next year, Bush was presented with the Lone Sailor award by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation.

He received honorary degrees from many colleges and universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, College of William & Mary and Washington College.

After recovering from pneumonia, Bush tossed the coin during the midfield ceremony immediately prior to Super Bowl LI in early 2017 in Houston, Texas.

Promoting Volunteerism

Bush, whose wife, Barbara, passed away in early 2018 at the age of 92, is survived by his children.

His legacy includes the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the west campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Bush was known for his Christian faith. He spearheaded the creation of the Points of Light Foundation in 1990. It seeks to help find private solutions to social problems, especially through volunteerism.

A Man Worthy of Honor and Remembrance

As mentioned, tomorrow will be a National Day of Mourning for the man who lived longer than any president in U.S. history. His body is lying in state until tomorrow morning, when it will be taken to the National Cathedral for a service.

Then Mr. Bush’s body will be flown back to Houston for a service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where he was a member. He will then be interred on the grounds of his presidential library.

41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush will be remembered fondly by millions of people around the world.

During tomorrow’s Day of Mourning, I encourage you to take your own moment of silence to remember this man and his legacy.

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