WW2 Pilot George H.W. Bush
Born to privilege the son of Prescott Bush, a banker and US senator who had served in the army during WW1, George Bush was in his senior year at prep school when Pearl Harbor was bombed. As soon as he could after graduating, he enrolled in the Navy on his 18th birthday. Like so many other young men, he wanted to take the fight to the Japanese and decided to postpone college. He wanted to fly the Avenger. Three days before his 19th birthday he was commissioned as an ensign in the US Naval Reserve, having completed a 10-month aviation course and became the Navy's youngest pilot.
On Sept. 2, 1944, having flown several successful missions and being promoted to Lieutenant JG, Bush piloted one of four Avengers on a critical mission to knock out Japanese radio towers on Chichijima. Flak from ground defenses was intense and Bush's plane was hit, catching the engine on fire. He was still able to drop his bombs and get the plane over water before bailing out with one of his three-man crew. The other man's chute failed to open, but Bush splashed down with only a surface injury to his head. He was able to find his life raft and avoid enemy capture for four hours before being rescued by the USS Finback (SS-230) a Gato class submarine.
Bush was the sole survivor of his 3-man crew.