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George H. W. Bush: Patriot, Statesman, President

George H. W. Bush: Patriot, Statesman, President
Joint services military honor guard carry the flag-draped casket of the remains of President George H.W. Bush during a departure ceremony to Washington D.C. at Ellington Field on December 3, 2018, in Houston, Texas. Bush, who died on November 30, will lie in state in Washington before returning to Houston for his funeral on Thursday. (David J. Phillip - Pool/Getty Images)

By Monday, 03 December 2018 02:42 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When I reflect on the “Greatest Generation,” I’m always amazed at the selflessness that characterized them. Men and women stood tall, rolled up their sleeves — fought in Europe and the Pacific and saved the world from tyranny.

They knew the stakes; they understood their mission in combat or back home — and fought or worked to support the war effort.

In my view, President George H. W. Bush truly personifies that generation.

Perhaps service to country was instilled in him by his father Prescott Bush, who had served in World War I — and who had his own distinguished career in both politics and business.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bush enlisted in the Navy and became a Naval Aviator at the age of 18. Upon completion of a ten month course Bush was assigned to a torpedo squadron as the photographic officer. Later in 1943 he was promoted to Lieutenant and piloted the Grumman TBM that attacked Japanese installations in the Bonnin islands, specifically the Island of Chichijima.

During the mission the Avengers encountered very intense anti-aircraft fire. Bush’s plane was hit by flak and his engine caught on fire. But Bush and his crew continued on and released their bombs over their target, inflicting several damaging hits on the enemy. Still in peril, Lieutenant Bush flew several miles away from the island when he one other member of his crew bailed out of the plane. Sadly the other man’s parachute did not open.

It is unclear which of Lieutenant Bush’s crew bailed out with him as both men were lost in battle that day. It was reported that Bush waited for at least four hours that day in a life raft while several fighters circled overhead until he was rescued by a lifeguard submarine. During 1944 Bush flew 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Home from the war, he got married and earned his college degree. After college he became a successful wildcatter in the oil business and was a millionaire by age 40. He went on to become a congressman from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican national committee, Director of the CIA, and in 1980 ran for president in the Republican Party primary and was subsequently nominated as Ronald Reagan’s vice presidential running mate.

After President Reagan and he were elected, he was one of President Reagan's most trusted, ablest advisers. Never seeking the limelight, Bush gave advice privately to President Reagan. And in him, Reagan found a loyal soldier and friend.

After being elected President in his own right in 1988, President Bush successfully prosecuted the mission to bring to justice Manuel Noriega — the drug dealing Dictator of Panama. And in a mere 100 hours Bush successfully led the coalition against Saddam Hussein pushed Iraq’s military out of Kuwait and back to Baghdad. President Bush also presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall.

While in office, the county experienced a mild recession but, by mid-1992, the country had the lowest interest rates inflation in years but unemployment was the highest it had been since 1984.

In the 1992 Presidential election Bush lost to Bill Clinton by a 43-to-37 percent margin. It should be pointed out that Independent Candidate Ross Perot got 19 percent of the popular vote. In the opinion of most political observers, this cost Bush a second term.

But think about this…

What would a second term Bush presidency have looked like?

For sure, Bush’s first concern would have been for the country, and as president, would have continued to conduct himself with honor and grace.

Every day we lose more of the “Greatest Generation,” and with the passing of America’s 41st president we are reminded of their selflessness, patriotism, and love of country.

Marc Rotterman worked on the national campaign for Reagan for president in 1980. He currently serves as senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation. He is the host of "Front Row" on UNC-TV and The NC Channel. Follow him on Twitter @FrontRowmarc. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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When I reflect on the “Greatest Generation,” I’m always amazed at the selflessness that characterized them. Men and women stood tall, rolled up their sleeves — fought in Europe and the Pacific and saved the world from tyranny.
george hw bush, president
Monday, 03 December 2018 02:42 PM
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