George Herbert Walker Bush, who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993, was born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924, to Prescott and Dorothy Walker Bush.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Bush enlisted in the United States Navy on his 18th birthday. When he received his wings, he became the youngest aviator in the U.S. Navy at the time. Bush flew 58 combat missions during World War II. On one mission over the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot he was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and was rescued by a U.S. submarine. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action. Bush was the last of the U.S. Presidents to have participated in World War II.
Following the war, Bush attended Yale University, graduating in 1948. The family eventually moved to West Texas, where Bush entered the oil business. Soon after founding his own oil company, Bush became involved in politics. He was defeated in his first election for the U.S. Senate in 1964, but won election to the House of Representatives in 1966. He was re-elected in 1968, but was defeated for election to the Senate in 1970.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed Bush as ambassador to the United Nations, and in 1973, Bush became the chairman of the Republican National Committee. The following year, President Gerald Ford appointed Bush as chief of the Liaison Office in China and later director of central intelligence. Bush ran for president in 1980, but was defeated in the Republican primaries by Ronald Reagan. However, Reagan chose Bush as his running mate, and Bush was the 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989. As vice president, Bush had responsibility in several domestic areas, including federal deregulation.
In 1988, Bush won the Republican nomination for president and, with Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana as his running mate, defeated Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the general election.
During his presidency, Bush faced a dramatically changing world, as the Cold War ended after 40 bitter years, the Communist empire broke up, and the Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union ceased to exist; and reformist President Mikhail Gorbachev, whom Bush had supported, resigned. While Bush hailed the march of democracy, he insisted on restraint in U.S. policy toward the group of new nations.
In other areas of foreign policy, President Bush sent American troops into Panama to overthrow the corrupt regime of General Manuel Noriega, who was threatening the security of the Panama Canal and the Americans living there. Noriega was brought to the United States for trial as a drug trafficker.
Bush’s greatest test came when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and then threatened to move into Saudi Arabia. Vowing to free Kuwait, Bush rallied the United Nations, the U.S. people, and Congress and sent 425,000 American troops. They were joined by 118,000 troops from allied nations. After weeks of air and missile bombardment, the 100-hour land routed Iraq’s million-man army.
In January 1945 he married Barbara Pierce. They had six children – George W, Robin (who died as a child), John (known as Jeb), Neil, Marvin and Dorothy.
References: “Homes of the Presidents,” by Bill Harris, and “Flyboys: A True Story of Courage,” by James Bradley.
To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-895-3592.