George H.W. Bush Enlists in the U.S. Navy Reserve

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Bush decided to join the US Navy, so after graduating from Phillips Academy earlier in 1942, he became a naval aviator at the age of 18.

After completing the 10-month course, he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve at Corpus Christi, Texas on June 9, 1943, just three days before his 19th birthday, which made him the youngest naval aviator to that date.

On his 18th birthday he enlisted in the armed forces. The youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings, he flew 58 combat missions during World War II. On one mission over the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot he was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire and was rescued from the water by a U. S. submarine. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action.

While several presidents have had aircraft carriers named in their honor, only George Herbert Walker Bush knows what it's like to fight off of one.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bush was a senior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.

Upon graduation six months later, he enlisted in the Navy Reserve and began flight training. The following June, just before his 19th birthday, he received his wings and commission as an ensign, making him the Navy's youngest pilot.