The Navy honored naval aviator and former President George H.W. Bush with the largest 21-aircraft missing man formation Thursday.
Plane at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth participated in a 21-aircraft flyover Thursday over the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets were flown to Fort Worth from Oceana, Virginia, for the Thursday ceremony in College station. People who live near NASJRB likely heard an increased level of activity around the base leading up to the planes' departure Thursday as they rehearsed the flyover.
“This is unprecedented and takes a lot of coordination to get this many airplanes and so many people on board, but to us it’s a blessing to be able to do this,” said Capt. Kevin McLaughlin, the commander of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. McLaughlin will fly the lead plane in the formation, which has been inscribed with "President George H.W. Bush '41'" on one side and "Barbara 'First Lady'" on the other.
"This is an honor. He is the true definition of humble servant leader," McLaughlin said. "He served in War War II as an aviator. He devoted the rest of his life to a career in service, culminating in the presidency of the United States, and even afterwards continued to serve in various roles both in and out of government. There is no individual that I would submit that naval aviation respects more than President Bush and this is really a small token of our appreciation and frankly the least we could do."
USNI News, which covers maritime news, reported the size of the flyover was unprecedented and reflected Bush's record as both a naval aviator and president. At the age of 18, six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Bush enlisted in the Navy and became one of the youngest naval aviators in history. After being shot down during a bombing mission in 1944, Bush was rescued by a submarine and returned to flying as soon as he could. He went on to complete 58 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Bush's funeral was Thursday at 10 a.m. at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston. Following the service, a train carried his casket from Houston to College Station, where the flyover took place.