NASIC reflects on service, honor and duty

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Zachary Wilson
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center Public Affairs

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush passed away last week at the age of 94 and the federal government observed this week as a time of mourning by direction of President Donald Trump.

Additionally, December 7 marks the 77th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor by Japan on U.S. military members and civilians that left over 2,300 killed and over 1,000 wounded and sunk four battleships, destroyed 159 aircraft with nearly the same number damaged. The attack also handed the United States of America a devastating strategic blow that nearly crippled the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.

Through the ashes of that cataclysmic event Americans of all walks acknowledged they were engaged in a global conflict that would forever change the face of the world. Among those were former President George H.W. Bush, who immediately enlisted after the attacks and become the Navy’s youngest aviator at 18. At the time, Bush was preparing to attend Yale University and was the son of U.S. Senator Prescott Bush. However, once he heard the call to service he immediately deferred his admission and went to war.  

I was scared but I was willing. I was young, but I was ready. I had barely started living when I began to see men die,” he said later.

Bush saw action throughout the Pacific theater with 58 combat missions and surviving two crashes. It was after one of those crashes in 1944 where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after an attack on a Pacific atoll where he ditched in the sea and was later rescued by a U.S. submarine.

Through his service, President Bush and millions of U.S. service members like him demonstrated resolve, sacrifice and resilience in the face of adversity. They set an example for all members serving today, especially our team here at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, who work each day to ensure we prevent the same strategic surprise that devastated the U.S. military and brought our country into war nearly eight decades ago.

But his time in the Navy was not the end of the future President’s story. He went on to business after war in the Texas oil industry before serving as a U.S. Congressman, eventual United Nations Ambassador, Central Intelligence Agency head, Vice President and finally, President of the United States.

As the 41st U.S. President, Bush presided over the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the eventual collapse of the Union for Socialist Soviet Republics. He oversaw the subsequent end of the Cold War, the liberation of Eastern Europe and led a coalition of 100 nations to liberate the Kingdom of Kuwait from Iraq in the Gulf War.

While much will be said this week about his political and personal legacy, as a military organization it is appropriate we reflect on the former president’s legacy of service and duty. Just as millions of other Americans chose, Bush chose a life of duty and service and gave of himself each time he was called. This week we honor that service and pay our respects to a true American Hero.

 Fair Winds and Following Seas, Sir.