George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-2018) was Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1992.
He was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, to Dorothy Walker Bush and Prescott Bush (who was a Republican Senator from Connecticut from 1952 to 1962). He graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts on his 18th birthday, June 12, 1942. That same day, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Seaman 2nd Class. Receiving his wings and commission in June 1943 while still 18 years old, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy at that time.
On active duty from August 1942 to September 1945 during World War II, he flew torpedo bombers off the USS San Jacinto. On September 2, 1944, Mr. Bush''s plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire while making a bombing run over the Bonin Island of Chichi Jima, 600 miles south of Japan. Although the plane was afire and severely damaged, he completed his strafing run on the targeted Japanese installation before flying towards sea to bail out. He was able to bail out successfully and was rescued by a Navy submarine, the USS Finback. Tragically, his two crew members were killed. For his courageous service in the Pacific Theater, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.
On January 6, 1945, George Bush married Barbara Pierce of Rye, New York. They are the parents of five children: George, John (Jeb), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy Bush Koch. Their second child, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953. The Bushes have 14 grandchildren.
Following World War II, he entered Yale University, where he pursued a degree in economics and served as captain of the varsity baseball team. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1948. After his graduation, George and Barbara Bush moved to Texas, where he worked as an oil field supply salesman for Dresser Industries. Over the next three years, Bush worked with several Dresser Industries'' subsidiaries, including IDECO (International Derrick and Equipment Company), Security Engineering Company, and Pacific Pumps. During this period, Bush and his family moved several times, living successively in Odessa, Texas; Ventura, Bakersfield, and Compton, California; and Midland, Texas. In 1951, Bush left Dresser Industries.
In 1951, he and John Overbey co-founded a small royalty firm, the Bush-Overbey Oil Development Company, based in Midland, Texas. Two years later he co-founded the Zapata Petroleum Corporation with Overbey, Hugh Liedtke and Bill Liedtke. In 1954, at the age of thirty, he became co-founder and president of a third firm, Zapata Off-Shore. Zapata Off-Shore pioneered in experimental offshore drilling equipment. After Zapata Petroleum and Zapata Off-Shore split in 1959, Bush relocated his family and Zapata Off-Shore headquarters to Houston, Texas.
During his years in Midland, Texas, Bush became heavily involved with civic and charitable activities. He served on the committees for the Midland Exchange Club, Midland Community Theater, and Midland County Unit of the American Cancer Society to name a few. He also served as a ruling elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Midland and managed Midland''s American Legion baseball team. While in Midland, Bush also became involved with politics, working with the fledgling Republican Party in Texas. After moving to Houston, he continued to involve himself with community and civic activities, serving on committees of the Houston Chamber of Commerce and the Mental Health Association of Houston and Harris County. In 1963, Bush was elected chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.
Following an unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat in 1964, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966 from Texas'' 7th District. One of the few freshman members of Congress ever elected to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, he was reelected to the House two years later without opposition. He lost a second campaign for the Senate in 1970.
During the 1970s, George Bush held a number of important leadership positions. In 1971, he was named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He served there until 1973, when he became Chairman of the Republican National Committee. In October 1974, he traveled to Peking, where he served as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office during the critical period when the United States was renewing ties with the People''s Republic of China. While the United States did not have an official embassy in Peking at the time, Bush served as the primary U.S. diplomat to China. As such he held the rank of Ambassador and carried out all official ambassadorial duties, including meeting with Chinese officials, hosting and attending diplomatic receptions, assisting U.S. official visits to China, and providing assistance to U.S. citizens visiting China. In 1976, he was appointed Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by President Gerald Ford. The U.S. Senate confirmed Bush in January 1976 by a vote of 64 to 27. Bush pledged in his confirmation to abstain from political activities, including possible consideration as Ford''s vice presidential running mate in 1976, while serving at the CIA. He honored this pledge and did not attend the 1976 Republican National Convention or participate in Ford''s 1976 campaign. Bush is given credit for strengthening the intelligence community and helping to restore morale at the CIA while Director of the agency. He resigned as director at the end of the Ford administration, leaving his post on January 20, 1977.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan selected George Bush to be his running mate. On January 20, 1981, George Bush was sworn in for the first of two terms as Vice President. In that office, he coordinated Administration efforts to combat international terrorism and wage the international war on drugs. Vice President Bush also piloted a task force on regulatory relief, aimed at reducing government and increasing American competitiveness.
In 1988, George Bush became his Party''s nominee and the American people''s choice to be the 41st President of the United States. President Bush''s leadership proved critical to the resolution of some of the most daunting conflicts of our time. After 40 years of superpower stalemate, historic events became almost commonplace: The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany; the end of the Cold War and the flowering of democracy in Eastern Europe; the emergence of a new partnership with Russia, anchored by the historic arms reduction treaties, START I and START II -- the first-ever agreements to dismantle and destroy strategic weapons since the advent of the nuclear age.
On the international economic front, President Bush sought to seize new opportunities through a policy of free trade, pushing to lower trade restrictions and tariff barriers in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) talks. President Bush''s free trade efforts culminated in the Enterprise for the Americas initiative and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
With the passing of the Cold War came new challenges. Seeking to demonstrate the post-Cold War possibilities for collective security, President Bush marshaled a 30 nation coalition to oppose Iraq''s invasion of Kuwait with Desert Storm. On the domestic scene, the Bush Administration pushed new ideas for educational reform, home ownership, and environmental protection. The Americans with Disabilities Act paved new ground for aiding the disadvantaged, and the revision of the Clean Air Act was deemed to be the most significant environmental legislation ever passed.