A Gritty Tribute to George Herbert Walker Bush

No matter your political leanings, one thing we can all agree on is this: George H.W. Bush was one of our grittiest presidents. With the news of his passing this past week, we have been reminded of his acts of heroism and contributions in service to our nation.

On his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the US Navy. By the time he was 20, he already had 58 combat missions under his belt, survived the terror of kamikaze attacks on his ship, and was shot down in an air attack on a Japanese radio station. Here is the citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross that he earned as a pilot during World War II.

For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Pilot of a Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron FIFTY ONE, attached to the U.S.S. San Jacinto, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Bonin Islands, on September 2, 1944.

Leading one section of a four-plane division in a strike against a radio station, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Bush pressed home an attack in the face of intense antiaircraft fire. Although his plane was hit and set afire at the beginning of his dive, he continued his plunge toward the target and succeeded in scoring damaging bomb hits before bailing out of the craft.

His courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Reserve.