NORFOLK (NNS) -- On July 21, 1990, Barbara Bush broke a ceremonial bottle of champagne over the bow of the Navy's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George Washington (CVN 73), officially christening the ship.
Today, the crew of CVN-73 mourn the passing of their ship's sponsor and former First Lady of the United States.
"It was our privilege to have Mrs. Barbara Bush as the ship's sponsor for the nation's finest aircraft carrier. Her legacy will be long remembered by those who have served and will serve aboard USS George Washington. We will always remember her with the honor and distinction that her life's service to our country embodied," said Captain Glenn Jamison, commanding officer of USS George Washington.
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) is named in honor of the 41st President of the United States and Mrs. Bush's husband. Since CVN-77 joined the fleet in 2009, the crew of the aircraft carrier have enjoyed a strong relationship with the Bush family. Like their shipmates aboard USS George Washington, the crew of USS George H.W. Bush is saddened by the loss of the spouse of their namesake.
"Today we join the world in mourning the passing of a truly remarkable person, Mrs. Barbara Bush. A strong and compassionate First Lady, a devoted matriarch and champion of literacy, she graced our deckplates on multiple occasions and treated all who served aboard USS George H. W. Bush like her own family," said Captain Sean Bailey, commanding officer of USS George H.W. Bush. "As we reflect on her inspirational life and many achievements, we endeavor to proudly carry her legacy and her enduring example of devotion to family aboard our ship. She will be truly missed."
As the first commanding officer to take newly commissioned USS George H. W. Bush to sea in 2009, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller forged a close relationship with President and Mrs. Bush. Today, as the commander of Naval Air Forces, he fondly recalls Mrs. Bush's love and devotion to the ship and the Navy.
"For those of us who have had the privilege of serving onboard the ship that bears her husband's name - Mrs. Bush was a source of inspiration. She impacted lives around the world through her advocacy of literacy and she impacted the lives of USS George H.W. Bush Sailors and their families in much the same way. Her sharp wit, humor and sincere love for those who served on her "favorite" ship was clearly apparent. During her visits to the ship, she enjoyed meeting Sailors and their families. During one at-sea period, I'll never forget her donning a chef's hat and handing out cookies, with a big smile and kind message to each Sailor she met. And when at a literacy event attended by CVN-77 Sailors and spouses in Washington, D.C. - as soon as she saw Sailors enter the room in their dress whites, she stopped what she was doing, proclaimed 'The Navy's here!' and greeted them all with joy - making us feel very special. She was the one who was special and she is loved by many people worldwide, whether they were close friends or just those who admired her actions and deeds. She will be missed by many, including those who have served, and will serve, on a ship that proudly honors the Bush name, USS George H.W. Bush."
Today, the American flag flying above both USS George Washington and USS George H.W. Bush are at half-mast in remembrance of the former First Lady. Those flags will remain at half-mast until Mrs. Bush is laid to rest where they will then be presented to the Bush family.