George Bush Plane

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By: Dr. Linda Miller

At the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum August 28, 2018, Ron (guide), Dr. Linda Miller, Pauline Wagon (Hawaii DAR), Donna Nielson (Hawaii DAR) and Judge Lee Koury wore a shirt he designed for the 2016 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

They all received a complimentary private tour from the museum. In this picture they are standing with the George Bush plane in the far background. Dr. Miller contributed to the restoration of an identical TBM Avenger plane like the one that George Bush flew during his combat missions. They also have a Bush Stearman which is the aircraft that the young George Bush made several solo flights in during Primary Training.

According to a release by the Museum: “Six months and five days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, George H.W. Bush enlisted in the Navy. it was June 12,1942, his 18th birthday and he became Seaman 2nd Class. After a 10-month course that included his solo in a Stearman biplane, he was commissioned as an ensign. He became the youngest Navy pilot to earn his wings in World War Ii. In September of 1943 he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51). In 1944 his squadron was based on the carrier USS San Jacinto. Promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade) on August 1, 1944, Lt. Bush continued his service on the San Jacinto, which undertook operations against Japanese forces on the Bonin Island. He was one of the four in his squadron to pilot a Grumman TBM Avenger aircraft. On September 2,1944, Lt. Bush’s squadron was tasked with attacking radio installations on Chichijima. During the attacks, the Avengers came under intense anti-aircraft fire. The engine of Lt. Bush’s Avenger caught fire, yet he continued the attack and successfully released his bombs over the target. He was credited with several damaging hits. After the attack, Lt. Bush was able to fly his failing plane, which was on fire, several miles out to sea away from the island. He and his crewmates bailed out. Tragically, the other men’s parachutes did not open. After several hours in the sea, Lt. Bush was rescued by the submarine USS Finback.

Later in a Grumman TBM Avenger, George JW Bush returned to the San Jacinto. By the end of his service, he had flown 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three air medals and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the San Jacinto.”