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Navy Carrier Named In Honor Of Former President

Navy Newsstand

12/9/2002 4:06:00 PM

From the Navy News Service

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Gordon England officially named the Navy's 10th Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, CVN 77, in honor of World War II naval aviator and former President of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush during a ceremony Dec. 9 at the Pentagon.

"USS George Herbert Walker Bush will serve as a worldwide symbol of our resolve," England said during the ceremony. "It will be a reminder of the 'Greatest Generation.'"

Sen. John Warner of Virginia, a former Secretary of the Navy himself, joined England and the former president for the event. In the senator's comments, he reminded everyone how important Bush's role as a naval aviator in World War II was to people growing up in America then.

"This is a very special occasion, to be able to honor a great American hero whose humility knows no limits," Warner said. "(During World War II) the idol of all of us was those who took the the air. We all looked up most to them."

After unveiling a model of the ship, Bush thanked those responsible for the honor.

"When I was in the Navy, if I saw a lieutenant commander, I thought I had died and gone to heaven if I didn't have to talk to him," he said. "Now, here I stand with (the Secretary of the Navy and Warner), and I am overwelmed and very, very grateful."

Bush went on to deflect any talk of his being a World War II hero.

"I don't believe in being a hero," he said with a laugh. "They asked John Kennedy once why he was a hero. He said, 'Well, they sank my ship.' Well, I'm a hero because they knocked my plane down."

During an attack on enemy installations near Chichi Jima in September 1944, his plane was hit by enemy fire. Although the plane was on fire and heavily damaged, he completed a strafing run on his target before bailing out of the doomed aircraft. Bush parachuted into the sea and was soon rescued by a Navy submarine, USS Finback (SS 230).

Bush's lifetime of service to America began when he joined the Navy on his 18th birthday in 1942 as a seaman. He became the Navy's youngest pilot when he received his commission and was designated a naval aviator before his 19th birthday.

Serving in the Navy from August 1942 to September 1945, Bush flew the Avenger torpedo bomber in combat from the carrier USS San Jacinto (CVL 30).

During his Navy service in the Pacific during World War II, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.

Bush later served in a number of roles for America, including U.S. congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to China and director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Later, Bush served as vice president and president of the United States.

As commander in chief, he led the United States and a coalition of 30 other nations during the Gulf War. The war ended Iraq's invasion of neighboring Kuwait and liberated the people of the small Middle Eastern nation.

He was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Mass., to Dorothy Walker Bush and Prescott Bush. The elder Bush served in Congress from 1952-1962 as a senator from Connecticut.

Bush married Barbara Pierce in 1945. Together, they are the parents of five children and grandparents to 14 grandchildren. They currently reside in Houston, Texas.

At 1,092 feet in length and 97,000 tons, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are the largest warships in the world. They have a flight deck of 4.5 acres and carry an air wing of approximately 75 aircraft. They can travel at speeds in excess of 30 knots.

America's carriers deploy around the globe in support of U.S. interests and commitments, responding to crises in ways ranging from peacetime presence to full-scale war.

England has also designated Bush's daughter, Doro Bush Koch, for the traditional role of ship's sponsor.

The future USS George H.W. Bush is presently under construction at Northrop Grumman Newport News in Virginia. USS George H.W. Bush is expected to join the fleet in 2009.

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