(Source: U.S Department of Defense)
12:00 AM, January 12, 2009
Navy Commissions USS George H.W. Bush with Namesake on Hand
WASHINGTON --- With traditional pomp and circumstance and its namesake on hand, the last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush, was commissioned in Norfolk, Va., today. So what do you give a guy who has been blessed and has just about everything he has ever needed? President George W. Bush, son of former President George H.W. Bush, joked during the ceremony. Well, an aircraft carrier. The story of the USS George H.W. Bush, also known as CVN 77, begins well before its keel-laying in September 2003. It began in the early days of World War II, when the former President Bush was just 18 when he enlisted in the Navy as a seaman second class, his son said. Just days before his 19th birthday, George H.W. Bush became the youngest Navy pilot when he received his wings and commission. The young pilot flew torpedo bombers off USS San Jacinto from August 1942 to September 1945. On Sept. 2, 1944, his plane was hit by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. He went down in the ocean and was rescued by the Navy submarine USS Finback. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals for courageous service in the Pacific theater. Thirty-five years later, he was sworn in as the 41st president of the United States and served two terms. The ship is a fitting tribute to a generation of men with whom my dad was privileged to serve, the president said. Shes also a tribute to a new generation of American soldiers and sailors and Coast Guardsmen and women, airmen and Marines who have stepped forward to defend the United States of America.