This Day In History: June 12

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The first Bush president, George Herbert Walker Bush, is born in Milton, Massachusetts. Bush served in the Navy during World War II and survived a harrowing ordeal when his torpedo bomber was shot down over the Pacific. Bush drifted in the water for several hours until a U.S. submarine picked him up. He was later awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in combat.

After the war, Bush married Barbara Pierce, attended Yale University, worked in the oil business and then devoted his life to public service. After serving two terms as a U.S. representative from Texas, he served in several diplomatic and intelligence capacities, including U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (1971), chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973), chief envoy to the People’s Republic of China (1974) and briefly as director of the Central Intelligence Agency from January 1976 to January 1977. In 1980, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan chose Bush to be his running mate; Bush went on to serve two terms as vice president. In 1988, Bush won the presidency and presided over the end of the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. and led America in the 1991 defeat of Saddam Hussein during Operation Desert Storm.

Bush was the father of another president, George Walker Bush, and of Jeb Bush, the two-term governor of Florida. Barbara Bush died on April 17, 2018, in Houston, Texas. George H.W. Bush died on November 30, 2018, also in Houston.