President of the United States
Youngest Naval Aviator in World War II.
President George H. W. Bush was 18 when he decided to enlist in the Navy with dreams of becoming a Naval Aviator. After receiving his wings, he became the youngest Naval Aviator commissioned during World War II. Bush was assigned to Torpedo Squadron 51 aboard the U.S.S. San Jacinto where he flew combat missions in a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber. During an attack against the Japanese-held island of Chichi Jima in 1944, Bush’s aircraft was severely damaged causing the engine to catch fire. Bush continued his attack then ordered his crew to bail out from the burning plane. He was eventually rescued by the submarine U.S.S. Finback and resumed combat operations before returning home with a Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism. After the war, Bush moved to Texas where he started a successful oil and gas company. He served in the U.S. Congress, then as Ambassador to China, Director of the CIA, Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Vice President of the United States before being elected the country’s 41st president in 1988.