George H.W. Bush Paid His Respects at ABMC Sites during his Lifetime

President George H.W. Bush, who died on November 30, 2018, paid his respects at multiple ABMC cemeteries during the course of his lifetime. As vice president he visited North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia in 1981, and Luxembourg American Cemetery in 1984. Later, as president, he and Barbara Bush visited Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in 1989. Visiting the cemetery during Memorial Day weekend, Bush delivered remarks during the ceremony. “As I reflect on this scene, and anticipate the dynamic and forward-looking Europe of the 1990s, I think of generations of young people on both sides of the Atlantic who have grown up in peace and prosperity,” Bush said. “With no experience in the horror and destruction of war, it may be difficult for them to understand why we need to keep a strong military deterrent to prevent war, and to preserve freedom and democracy.”

As a World War II naval aviator, Bush brought a unique perspective to his time in office. He flew 58 combat missions and logged more than 1,200 hours of flight time. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to his carrier the USS San Jacinto. His bomber was shot down on September 2, 1944 during a mission over the Bonin Islands in the Pacific. Crew members from the USS Finback rescued Bush from the water that day, however, other members of his crew did not survive.