My happiest national news item at year’s end was word that former President George H. W. Bush, one of my fellow World War II Navy veterans, had been released from intensive care for a nagging bronchial condition but remained in a Houston hospital. A number of other well-known WWII vets had not been as fortunate last year.
My affinity with Bush — a.k.a. 41 (being the 41st President) –has virtually nothing to do with his politics. It stems from us both being young Navy officers (I, a little older) who served together aboard ships in Task Force 38 in the heat of the America’s naval air war in the Pacific. Bush was a carrier-based pilot of a cumbersome Avenger torpedo-bomber and I a gunnery officer on a destroyer (USS Stephen Potter).
We DDs guarded the carriers and one of our missions was to be assigned to rescue downed pilots or crewmen from our fleet. (Once, strangely, we were detached to investigate a downed Japanese pilot bobbing on the sea after being spotted by a scout plane.