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The List: 5 facts about George H.W. Bush

Close-up of George H.W. Bush on battleship deck
Former President George H.W. Bush watches flight operations aboard the USS George H.W. Bush in 2010. Image: U.S. Navy

To help mark the recent arrival of the George H.W. Bush stamp, here are some facts about the 41st president.

1. Public service was part of Bush’s life from the beginning. Bush was the son of Prescott Sheldon Bush, a U.S. senator from Connecticut. He credited his father with teaching him about duty and service, two principles that guided his life.

2. He was a decorated war hero. Determined to serve in World War II, Bush enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a seaman 2nd class on his 18th birthday. Less than a year later, he became the youngest pilot in the Navy. In 1944, while flying over ChichiJima, Lt. (j.g.) Bush’s plane was hit by antiaircraft fire. With his engine on fire, Bush completed his mission before parachuting into the sea. He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

3. The Bushes are a big brood. During the war, Bush commanded an Avenger torpedo bomber that he named “Barbara” after his fiancée, Barbara Pierce. The couple was married in 1945 and had six children: George; Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3; Jeb; Neil; Marvin; and Doro, along with 17 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

4. He made presidential history twice. When Bush was elected in 1988, he became the first person elected president directly from the vice presidency since Martin Van Buren in 1836. Later, Bush and George W. Bush became the second father and son — after John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams — to achieve the U.S. presidency, when George W. Bush took the oath of office as the 43rd president in 2001.

5. He loved words and letters. Bush memorably explained his vision of a nation of volunteers as “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” A prolific letter writer and diarist, he published his bestselling collection, “All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings,” in 1999.

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