From Naval History and Heritage Command Website:
Upon hearing of the Pearl Harbor attack, while a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, George Bush decided he wanted to join the Navy to become an aviator. Six months later, after graduation, he enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday and began pre-flight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After completing the 10-month course, he was commissioned as an ensign in the US Naval Reserve on 9 June 1943, several days before his 19th birthday, making him one of the youngest naval aviators.
After finishing flight training, he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51) as photographic officer in September 1943. As part of Air Group 51, his squadron was based on USS San Jacinto in the spring of 1944. San Jacinto was part of Task Force 58 that participated in operations against Marcus and Wake Islands in May, and then in the Marianas during June. On 19 June, the task force triumphed in one of the largest air battles of the war. During the return of his aircraft from the mission, Ensign Bush’s aircraft made a forced water landing. The destroyer, USS Clarence K. Bronson, rescued the crew, but the plane was lost. On 25 July, Ensign Bush and another pilot received credit for sinking a small cargo ship.
After Bush was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on 1 August, San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. On 2 September 1944, Bush piloted one of four aircraft from VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chi Chi Jima. For this mission his crew included Radioman Second Class John Delaney, and Lieutenant Junior Grade William White, USNR, who substituted for Bush’s regular gunner. During their attack, four TBM Avengers from VT-51 encountered intense antiaircraft fire. While starting the attack, Bush’s aircraft was hit and his engine caught on fire. He completed his attack and released the bombs over his target scoring several damaging hits. With his engine on fire, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member on the TBM Avenger bailed out of the aircraft. However, the other man’s chute did not open and he fell to his death. It was never determined which man bailed out with Bush. Both Delaney and White were killed in action. While Bush anxiously waited four hours in his inflated raft, several fighters circled protectively overhead until he was rescued by the lifeguard submarine, USS Finback. During the month he remained on Finback, Bush participated in the rescue of other pilots.
Subsequently, Bush returned to San Jacinto in November 1944 and participated in operations in the Philippines. When San Jacinto returned to Guam, the squadron, which had suffered 50 percent casualties of its pilots, was replaced and sent to the United States. Throughout 1944, he had flown 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded San Jacinto.
Because of his valuable combat experience, Bush was reassigned to Norfolk and put in a training wing for new torpedo pilots. Later, he was assigned as a naval aviator in a new torpedo squadron, VT-153. With the surrender of Japan, he was honorably discharged in September 1945 and then entered Yale University.
Former Lieutenant George Herbert Walker Bush,
US Naval Reserve Transcript of Naval Service
|12 June 1924||Born in Milton, Massachusetts|
|13 June 1942||Enlisted in US Naval Reserve|
|5 August 1942||Reported for Active Duty|
|8 June 1943||Honorably Discharged|
|9 June 1943||Ensign, US Naval Reserve and continued on Active Duty|
|1 August 1944||Lieutenant (junior grade)|
|18 September 1945||Released from Active Duty under honorable conditions|
|16 November 1948||Lieutenant|
|24 October 1955||Resignation accepted under honorable conditions|
|SHIPS AND STATIONS|
|US Naval Air Station, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Instrn)||June 1943 – August 1943|
|Naval Air Operational Training Command Carrier Qualification Training Unit US Naval Air Station, Glenview, Ill. (Instrn)||August 1943 – August 1943|
|Air Force, US Atlantic Fleet, US Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. (Instrn)||August 1943 – September 1943|
|Carrier Aircraft Service 21 (Instrn)||September 1943 – September 1943|
|Torpedo Squadron 51 (Naval Aviator)||September 1943 – December 1943|
|Air Force, US Atlantic Fleet, US Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va.||December 1944 – February 1945|
|Torpedo Squadron 97||February 1945 – March 1945|
|Torpedo Squadron 153(Naval Aviator)||March 1945 – September 1945|
|Headquarters, FIFTH Naval District||September 1945 – September 1945|
PERSONAL DECORATIONS Distinguished Flying Cross.
Air Medal with two gold stars in lieu of subsequent awards
Presidential Unit Citation awarded USS San Jacinto (CVL-30)