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President George H. W. Bush - TBF Avenger Pilot

During WW II Lt. (JG) George H. W. Bush was a young Naval Aviator flying TBFs off the carrier USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) in the South Pacific. On September 2, 1944 Lt. (JG) Bush, flying his 46th combat mission, was hit by ground fire while on a bombing mission over a Japanese-held island. Although he was able to bail out, his two crewmen perished. The future 41st President of the United States was rescued by the submarine SS Finback. Lt. (JG) George H. Bush was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three air medals for his bravery during WW II.

Poster Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Navy

Additional facts:

  • Enlisted in U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday - June 12, 1942
  • Earned the "Wings of Gold" Naval Aviator Rating June 9, 1943 at the age of 18 years, 11 months, and 27 days
  • Qualified as carrier pilot on USS Sable August 24, 1943
  • Assigned to VT-51 aboard the new carrier San Jacinto CVL-30 as part of Task Force 58 in May, 1944
  • Doomed flight on September 2, 1944, while attacking Japanese held island of Chichi Jima he was shot down and lost his two crewmen: John Delaney ARM-3C, and Lt. (JG) Ted White, Squadron Ordinance Officer
  • Rescued by the submarine Finback SS-230
  • Returned to his squadron and flew twelve more missions, thereby totaling 58 combat missions.

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