- Former President George H.W. Bush died Friday at the age of 94.
- From the time he joined the military on his 18th birthday, the former president dedicated much of his life to serving his country.
- Bush flew 58 combat missions as a Navy pilot during World War II and was once shot down by Japanese forces.
- Throughout his political career, Bush remained committed to US service members, often visiting troops overseas during the holidays.
George H.W. Bush joined the US military on June 12, 1942 on his 18th birthday.
George H.W. Bush, photographed as a Naval Aviator Cadet circa 1943. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)
Eager to serve, following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 he considered joining the Canadian Royal Air Force, which would have let him join before turning 18, according to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
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George H.W. Bush became the youngest Navy pilot of the era.
George H.W. Bush in the cockpit of an Avenger. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)
Bush flew the Grumann TBF Avenger, a torpedo bomber that could drop a torpedo or a 2,000-pound bomb.
He flew 58 combat missions during World War II.
George H.W. Bush in the cockpit during World War II circa 1943-1944 (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)
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He was shot down while on a bombing run off the island of Chi Chi Jima in 1944, and was rescued by the USS Finback.
George H.W. Bush being rescued by the submarine USS Finback, after being shot down on September 2, 1944. (US National Archives)
After landing in the water, Bush swam to a life raft. He was attacked by Japanese soldiers on the island, but nearby US fighters strafed them to keep them away, a Navy historian told CBS News. The Finback rescued Bush after four hours on the raft.
After leaving military service, he remained devoted to US troops, and has often visited service members deployed and stationed overseas, even during holidays.
Congressman George H.W. Bush visits troops on a visit to Southeast Asia from December 1967 through January 1968. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)
As vice president, he visited the Korean DMZ in 1982.
Vice President George H.W. Bush visits Hill 229 in the De-Militarized Zone on the Korean peninsula on April 25, 1982 (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)
Then Vice President, George H.W. Bush USS Iowa re-commissioned the battleship USS Iowa in 1984
Vice President George H.W. Bush participates in the third commissioning of the battleship USS Iowa on April 28, 1984. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)
In 1990, President Bush spent Thanksgiving with deployed troops in Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Iraq.
Then-President George H.W. Bush was surrounded by military personnel on a Thanksgiving trip to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Nov 22, 1990. (Reuters/Terry Bochatey)
Right down to his socks, former President George H.W. Bush remained dedicated to serving his country until his final days.
Former President George H.W. Bush's casket is carried to the Special Air Mission 41 plane during a departure ceremony at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas, U.S., December 3, 2018. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)
Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted a photo of the statesman's burial socks, honoring his time as a US naval aviator: