BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Wednesday served as a national day of mourning for former President George H.W. Bush, and veterans across the country honored the former commander in chief, who passed away Nov. 30.
That was especially true for dozens of U.S. Navy veterans who served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence before the ship was decommissioned.
At the Golden Nugget, there was a room full of memories about service aboard the Independence. It was a time the veterans will never forget. They also will not forget George H.W. Bush, including Douglas Blevins.
“He was a true patriot. I mean, he dedicated his life to the actual service of the people of the United States. and that’s my greatest memory of him," Blevins said.
Those in uniform felt a close bond to the man who was once commander in chief, as Bush himself served in World War II.
“President Bush had a great respect for all branches of the military, but I think he had a special place in his heart probably for the submariners because they saved his life," said veteran Dan Nichols.
Those thoughts were echoed by all of the men who served on the high seas, including Vance Wallace.
“He respected what we do and did, and he honored the service by his presence also," Wallace said.
The impact of the former president on this country and the veterans has left a lasting impression, according to Dave Gienger.
“He was just a great man. He was quiet; he was humble. He was an asset to this country," Gienger said.
While Bush was the commander in chief for four years, and served a lifetime of public service, if there was one word that came to mind for the veterans of the USS Independence, one way to describe him, it was this:
“Well, he was a gentleman,” said veteran Richard Weston. “I mean his family, his values, his family values, came over into the office. He treated everybody with respect. Didn’t always get the respect I think he deserved.”
The respect the 41st president received was certainly well deserved.
About 200 U.S. Navy veterans who served on board the USS Independence are holding their annual convention on the coast. They’ll be here through Friday morning.