George H.W. Bush joined the US military on June 12, 1942 on his 18th birthday.

Eager to serve, following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 he considered joining the Canadian Royal Air Force, which would have let him join before turning 18, according to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.


George H.W. Bush became the youngest Navy pilot of the era.

Bush flew the Grumann TBF Avenger, a torpedo bomber that could drop a torpedo or a 2,000-pound bomb.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II.


He was shot down while on a bombing run off the island of Chi Chi Jima in 1944, and was rescued by the USS Finback.

After landing in the water, Bush swam to a life raft. He was attacked by Japanese soldiers on the island, but nearby US fighters strafed them to keep them away, a Navy historian told CBS News. The Finback rescued Bush after four hours on the raft.

After leaving military service, he remained devoted to US troops, and has often visited service members deployed and stationed overseas, even during holidays.

As vice president, he visited the Korean DMZ in 1982.

Then Vice President, George H.W. Bush USS Iowa re-commissioned the battleship USS Iowa in 1984

In 1990, President Bush spent Thanksgiving with deployed troops in Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Iraq.

Right down to his socks, former President George H.W. Bush remained dedicated to serving his country until his final days.

Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted a photo of the statesman's burial socks, honoring his time as a US naval aviator:

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