George Herbert Walker Bush was born to a wealthy and politically engaged family as the son of Senator Prescott Bush. He was born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924. He. Bush went to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, which is a prestigious boarding institution. After meeting at a Christmas dance in 1941, he began dating his future wife, who was then known as Barbara Pierce. Bush was only 17 years old at the time, and Barbara was just 16 years old. In January 1945, they tied the knot.
Bush joined the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday, becoming the Navy’s youngest pilot during WWII. He flew carrier-based torpedo bomber aircraft and completed 58 combat missions as a combat pilot throughout the conflict. When his jet was hit on a bombing run in the Pacific, Bush came close to dying. He was promptly rescued by a U.S. Navy submarine when he managed to flee the flaming plane. For his WWII service, Bush received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Following the war, Bush attended Yale University and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1948. Later, he relocated to Midland, Texas, where he made a name in the oil and petroleum business.
Early Political Career
In 1963, the young Bush became the chairman of the Harris County Republican Party. He waged an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas the following year. On the other hand, Bush didn’t take long to make his way into Congress; two years after his unsuccessful Senate run, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served two terms. Bush went on to become the United States ambassador to the United Nations in 1971, the Republican National Committee’s chairman during the Watergate affair, the United States’ envoy to China, and in 1976, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Bush then set his sights on the presidency of the United States, but he failed to obtain his party’s candidacy in 1980, losing to Ronald Reagan. On the other hand, Bush would soon be in the White House as Reagan’s vice-presidential running mate. Reagan defeated Democrat candidate Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election. In 1984, he was re-elected, with Bush as his vice president for both terms.
Bush finally ascended to the White House in 1989, defeating Democratic contender Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election and becoming the first sitting vice president to be elected president since 1837. “Read my lips: No new taxes,” Bush famously said during his victory address at the 1988 Republican National Convention.
During his administration, Bush handled foreign relations deftly during a difficult period in the country’s history. Bush responded to the dissolution of the Soviet Union just months into his first term by overseeing the removal of Panamanian tyrant Manuel Noriega from office by the U.S. troops. Soon after, Bush responded to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait (August 1990) by forming a national coalition and launching a military operation to force Hussein out of the oil-rich country. Bush’s handling of the invasion of Kuwait is widely regarded as his most significant presidential achievement.
As the invasion began, Bush stated the American people, saying, “All reasonable efforts to seek a peaceful conclusion have now been expended by the 28 countries with forces in the Gulf region. We have no choice but to evict Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. We will not fail, and we are resolved to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons capability. His chemical weapons facilities will also be destroyed. Saddam Hussein’s artillery and tanks will be mostly destroyed. Saddam Hussein’s soldiers will depart Kuwait; that is our goal.”
Life after presidency
Bush made numerous public appearances after his eldest son, George W. Bush was elected president in 2000, frequently to speak in support of his son. He supported various political issues in addition to being a devoted and caring father. In 2005, he teamed up with former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic candidate who lost him in the 1992 election, to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast region, particularly Louisiana and Mississippi. In its first few months, the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund garnered more than $100 million in donations.
President Barack Obama awarded Bush, Sr. the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Deteriorating Health and Death
An 88-year-old Bush was sent to a Houston, Texas, hospital in November 2012 to be treated for a bronchitis-related cough. Bush was also diagnosed with lower-body parkinsonism that year, a disorder that has forced him to use a wheelchair.
In July of the following year, the former president appeared to be in excellent spirits. According to photos distributed to the press, Bush shaved his head in honor of a Secret Service agent’s young son fighting against leukemia. Bush and the First Lady also contributed to a special fund to cover the boy’s medical costs.
After suffering shortness of breath, Bush was taken to Houston Methodist Hospital in December 2014. He was hospitalized for two months in 2013 after contracting bronchitis. Bush tried skydiving on several milestone birthdays since leaving the White House, despite his health struggles over the years. His most recent jump was in June 2014 to commemorate his 90th birthday. For his 80th and 85th birthdays, he had already parachuted.
In July 2015, the 91-year-old former president collapsed and shattered a vertebra in his neck at his vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
George H. W. Bush passed at his Houston home on November 30, 2018, after a struggle with vascular Parkinson’s disease. Since Gerald Ford’s death in late 2006, he was the first U.S. president to pass away in nearly a decade. At the time of Bush’s death, he was considered the longest-serving U.S. president in history, having lived for 94 years and 171 days.
President Donald Trump announced a National Day of Mourning shortly after Bush’s death. Trump ordered all flags across the United States and its territories to be lowered to half-staff for 30 days after his death. The state burial of George H. W. Bush took place over four days from December 3 to 6, 2018, and was the formal funerary ceremony of the United States government. The event drew about a dozen world leaders.