By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman J. Scott St. Clair, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs
USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the Navy's 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, received a visit from its namesake, former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, while underway July 14. Bush and Barbara were escorted on board by Adm. J.C. Harvey, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
During his two-day visit to the aircraft carrier, Bush toured the ship, observing day-to-day operations and spending time with the crew, as well as taking part in a reenlistment ceremony for nearly 60 Sailors, which he said was an honor.
"I am proud of every man and woman on this ship," said Bush. "I was honored to be able to reenlist those who are ready to serve again. I am very emotional about service to country, particularly the Navy. I am very proud of the Navy and extremely proud of this ship. That this ship is named after me knows no bound in terms of my emotion and my pleasure and the honor that I feel."
Commanding Officer Capt. Chip Miller expressed what a huge privilege and inspiration it was to host two individuals who devoted their lives to selfless service.
"What an honor it is to have our special guests on board to see freedom at work first hand," said Miller. "We are so grateful to have them join us at sea to see what we do and how we do our part to defend freedom."
Barbara pointed out how much the aircraft carrier and its crew meant to her and her husband.
"This ship is probably the greatest honor that George Bush ever had given to him," said Barbara. "He and I pray for this crew every single night of our lives. This crew is the greatest, and we are thankful to you for what you're doing and what your families do for all of us."
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Apprentice Sutton C. Hout, of the ship's Air department, was thankful for the opportunity to interact with the namesake of the aircraft carrier.
"It was really exciting to spend time with a former president," said Hout. "It was an honor to meet him. It was great experience interacting with the namesake of this great ship and someone who played such a significant role in U.S. history. It's not every day that you get to meet the 41st president of the United States."
Miller also noted that one of the command's primary goals is to emulate the qualities of its respected namesake.
"We run this ship, and we harp on our guiding principles," said Miller. "President Bush is an example to every single one of us and Barbara is an example that inspires us every day. Our number one guiding principle on board this ship is that, like our namesake, we are professionals who serve our country with integrity. It drives us. It fuels us. George H.W. Bush is a professional who continues to serve his country with integrity."
The former president expressed his confidence and high hopes for the command concerning the aircraft carrier's upcoming maiden deployment and reinforced his gratitude to the military and its service members.
"This ship will do a wonderful job supporting freedom around the world," said Bush. "When this ship deploys, I know that you will carry the flag with great honor, the flag of the United States, a flag of freedom. We are so blessed that freedom works in this country. What a great country this is and what a wonderful thing it is to be an American. We are so lucky to have people serving, all volunteers, volunteering for this country and to be a part of this magnificent ship."
Bush, a former Navy pilot, was stationed on the USS San Jacinto (CVL 30) during World War II and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his combat service in the Pacific in 1944.
USS George H.W. Bush is the only U.S. Navy aircraft carrier with a living namesake. This visit marked the second time at sea for the former president, but was Barbara's first time underway aboard the ship named after her husband.
The Bush's daughter and ship's sponsor, Doro Bush Koch, went underway aboard the ship for a Friends and Family Day Cruise in May 2010.
The entire Bush family has been actively involved in the command and events involving its crew since the ship's commissioning in January 2009.