George Bush, Former U.S. President

“My Navy service affected my later life in public service. I learned a lot about human nature. I saw men under great stress. I saw men die in front of my eyes. I lost friends. I saw a war in which the military were given whatever they needed to get the job done. I learned a lot about heroism and honor and love of country. I learned about teamwork. I learned about loyalty.

“On September 2, 1944, 53 years ago, I was shot down in combat over a Japanese-held island. I was a scared young man who had just turned 20 years old. Two crewmen were killed. I survived, a submarine out on War Patrol, having picked me up. I have wondered often why me—why was I spared when others died? I’ll never know the answer to this question. I do know that terrifying experience helped me become a man. It strengthened my faith. It made me count my blessings for a loving family and for friends.”