How do you measure a man? In America in 1942, the measurement certainly started at joining the service.
George Herbert Walker Bush was a very young man in December 1941 when the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor thrust America into World War II. He was just 18 years old, and still in his Senior year at Phillips Academy in the Northeast US.
That very young Man opted to put his college plans on hold immediately and without hesitation to join the United States War effort as soon as he graduated Phillips Academy in that spring of 1942.
It would be very fair to say that he was a privileged young man, and with college plans already in place, he surely could have continued with his path and probably avoided the war altogether.
But that was not the Man that George Bush was.
He joined the Navy and immediately signed up to be a pilot. After a 10 month training program aboard the USS Sable He was Commissioned Ensign Bush on June 9, 1943. His commission in June came 3 days BEFORE his 19th birthday, making him the youngest Naval Aviator in the US Navy at the time.
Ensign Bush flew Grumman TBM Avengers from the USS San Jacinto in the Pacific Theatre, earning a promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade.
During an attack of the Japanese strongholds at Bonin Islands Lieutenant Bush’s plane was struck by enemy flak, but he still delivered his bombs and torpedoes on target. He was forced to ditch the Aircraft in the sea.
Lieutenant Bush parachuted safely to the sea, but his copilot was killed when his chute failed to open. Bush waited in a life raft until he was rescued by the Submarine USS Finback.
He lived and worked on the Finback for a whole month, participating in the rescue of other downed airmen before returning to the San Jacinto.
Lieutenant Bush took the loss of his fellow airmen to heart. He often wondered why he was saved, when others were not. He wondered if God had a plan for him all along. And he vowed to never forget those brave men.
Before leaving the Navy Bush married his sweetheart Barbara Pierce in 1945. The marriage produced 6 children, although a tragic illness took their daughter Robin before she had a chance at life.
After his discharge from the Navy, Bush enrolled at Yale where he earned a degree in economics. He became president of his fraternity and even played on the Yale baseball team in the first 2 College World Series ever.
After college George moved his family to Texas and entered the Oil business.
With much success in that venture, George Bush turned his attention to politics.
He won his first public office in 1966, and after a long and diverse political Career he became the Vice President of the United States in 1980.
In 1988, after 2 terms as VP, He was elected to the office of President of The United States where he served from 1989 to 1993. George Herbert Walker Bush was the first Incumbent Vice President to be elected to President in 152 years.
His marriage to Barbara lasted until her death in 2018, making them the longest married presidential couple in the history of the nation at 73 years of marriage. The next longest pair was John and Abigail Adams at 54 years.
On November 30, 2018, One Year ago this week, Former President George Herbert Walker Bush passed away at the age of 94.
If we ask again how to measure a man, we must look at the lifetime of service from George H.W. Bush as the highest marks on that rule, along with the lifetime of commitment to his family and his nation.