10 photos that show former President George H.W. Bush's lifelong dedication to the US military

George HW Bush troops Saudi ArabiaWikimedia CommonsWikimedia Commons

  • Former President George H.W. Bush died Friday at the age of 94.
  • From the time he joined the military on his 18th birthday, the former president dedicated much of his life to serving his country.
  • Bush flew 58 combat missions as a Navy pilot during World War II and was once shot down by Japanese forces.
  • Throughout his political career, Bush remained committed to US service members, often visiting troops overseas during the holidays.
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George H.W. Bush joined the US military on June 12, 1942 on his 18th birthday.

George H.W. Bush joined the US military on June 12, 1942 on his 18th birthday.

Eager to serve, following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 he considered joining the Canadian Royal Air Force, which would have let him join before turning 18, according to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Read more: A Navy fighter inscribed with George H.W. Bush's name will lead an unprecdented 21-plane flyover for the president's funeral

George H.W. Bush became the youngest Navy pilot of the era.

George H.W. Bush became the youngest Navy pilot of the era.

Bush flew the Grumann TBF Avenger, a torpedo bomber that could drop a torpedo or a 2,000-pound bomb.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II.

Read more: Moving photos from George H.W. Bush's state funeral, where every living president, foreign leaders and celebrities paid their respects

He was shot down while on a bombing run off the island of Chi Chi Jima in 1944, and was rescued by the USS Finback.

He was shot down while on a bombing run off the island of Chi Chi Jima in 1944, and was rescued by the USS Finback.

After landing in the water, Bush swam to a life raft. He was attacked by Japanese soldiers on the island, but nearby US fighters strafed them to keep them away, a Navy historian told CBS News. The Finback rescued Bush after four hours on the raft.

After leaving military service, he remained devoted to US troops, and has often visited service members deployed and stationed overseas, even during holidays.

After leaving military service, he remained devoted to US troops, and has often visited service members deployed and stationed overseas, even during holidays.

As vice president, he visited the Korean DMZ in 1982.

As vice president, he visited the Korean DMZ in 1982.

Then Vice President, George H.W. Bush USS Iowa re-commissioned the battleship USS Iowa in 1984

Then Vice President, George H.W. Bush USS Iowa re-commissioned the battleship USS Iowa in 1984

In 1990, President Bush spent Thanksgiving with deployed troops in Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Iraq.

In 1990, President Bush spent Thanksgiving with deployed troops in Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Iraq.

Right down to his socks, former President George H.W. Bush remained dedicated to serving his country until his final days.

Right down to his socks, former President George H.W. Bush remained dedicated to serving his country until his final days.

Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted a photo of the statesman's burial socks, honoring his time as a US naval aviator:

The 41st President will be carried to his final rest wearing socks that pay tribute to his lifetime of service, starting as an 18 year-old naval aviator in war. That legacy is now being carried, in part, by the brave, selfless men and women aboard @CVN77_GHWB. #Remembering41 pic.twitter.com/OabtK756fO

— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) December 3, 2018
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