Newport News, VA - Former President George H. W. Bush, and wife Barbara, listened while their son, President George W. Bush delivered the principal address, October 7, in the Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard during the christening ceremony for the Navy's newest aircraft carrier named for the former President.
Doro Bush Koch, the former President's daughter, broke a bottle of American sparkling wine across the ship's bow in the time-honored Navy tradition to formally christen the ship, which is the last of the Nimitz-class carriers.
The honor was befitting, as aside from serving as America's forty-first President, the elder Bush, now 82, was a decorated naval aviator in World War II.
Bush enlisted as a naval seaman on his 18th birthday in 1942 and held the distinction of being the youngest pilot in the Navy at the time. He received his commission and naval aviator wings before turning 19.
Bush flew the Avenger torpedo bomber in combat from the carrier USS San Jacinto. In September 1944, his plane was hit by enemy fire while making a bombing run during an attack on enemy installations near Chichi Jima. Although his plane caught fire and sustained heavy damage, Bush completed a strafing run on the target.
The former President was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals for his Navy service in the Pacific theater during World War II.
Bush entered public service after leaving the Navy in 1945, serving: as a Texas congressman twice; as the ambassador to the United Nations; as chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to China; as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and for two terms as former President Ronald Reagan's vice president.
As President of the United States Bush led the United States and a coalition of nearly 30 other nations for Operation Desert Storm in 1988, ending Iraq's and Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
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