Former President and Legionnaire George H.W. Bush passes at 94

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Former President and Legionnaire George H.W. Bush passes at 94

Obviously everyone has heard this innumerable times already, but we lost the last combat experienced President this past weekend. 

National Commander Brett Reistad:

“The American Legion is saddened by the passing of a great Legionnaire, former President George H.W. Bush. His stoic leadership during the Gulf War was admired by not just by the troops that he led, but by world leaders around the globe. As a young man he served heroically in World War II. It marked the beginning of an entire lifetime dedicated to public service. He inspired Americans to give back to their communities with his ‘Thousand Points of Light’ program.  The American Legion was proud to present our highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, to President Bush in 1991. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Bush family and his many friends.”

It's his early life as a pilot that was the centerpiece of an excellent story in Stars and Stripes today, which you should read:

George H.W. Bush died on Friday, just a week before the country marks the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — an event that would change his life.

Bush was a high school senior on Dec. 7, 1941. He was walking on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, when he heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. According to Bush biographer and presidential historian Jon Meacham, Bush wanted to serve immediately.

"After Pearl Harbor, it was a different world altogether," Bush would later recall for Meacham's biography, "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush."

Later Bush would be shot down over the pacific...

At dawn on Sept. 2, 1944, Bush was slated to fly in a strike over Chichi Jima, a Japanese island about 500 miles from the mainland. The island was a stronghold for communications and supplies for the Japanese, and it was heavily guarded. Bush's precise target was a radio tower.

Around 7:15 that morning, Bush took off through clear skies along with William G. White, known as "Ted," and John "Del" Delaney. Just over an hour later, their plane was hit. Meacham wrote that smoke filled the cockpit and flames swallowed the wings. Bush radioed White and Delaney to put on their parachutes.

"My God," Bush thought to himself, "this thing is going to blow up."

Anyway, go read the piece, it is excellent. 

CBS Sunday News did a good piece on his life which includes the footage from the Submarine when he was saved (the grainy picture at the top of this post is that moment):

President Trump has designated Wednesday as a National Day or Mourning, and flags will remain at half-staff for 30 days.

Rest in Peace Comrade.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.