Navy Hornet inscribed With George Bush’s Name To Lead 21 Jet Largest Ever Missing Man Formation. Thirty U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets Fly to Texas In Preparation for Unprecedented 21-Jet Missing Man Formation.
The US Navy has decided to honor former President George H.W. Bush with a 21-aircraft memorial flyover on Thursday. The missing man formation will be the largest ever, as these formations typically involve no more than four aircraft. These formations typically involve only four fighters.
The former president, a distinguished World War II naval aviator who passed away Friday at the age of 94, will be laid to rest on Thursday at George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station in Texas.
The U.S. Navy has dispatched thirty F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet jets from various units to participate in a massive memorial flyover and missing man formation to honor the life and passing of former President George H.W. Bush. A total of 21 aircraft will be used in the formation flyover with 9 aircraft being used in a support role for the mission.
U.S. Navy Captain Kevin McLaughlin from Newport Beach, California, Commodore of the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, will fly lead position in the massive memorial formation in a VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers” jet., the Navy announced on Facebook. His aircraft has the former president and former first lady’s names inscribed on it. “To be even a small part of this ceremony means a lot to me,” McLaughlin told WTKR-TV.
Capt. McLaughlin’s F/A-18F Super Hornet carries special markings for the memorial flight that read, “President George H.W. Bush, 41” as the pilot’s name on the canopy rail and “Barbara, First Lady” on the systems operator’s position. According to the U.S. Navy, Capt. McLaughlin has over 3,700 flight hours and 875 arrested landings onboard 10 different aircraft carriers.
“A missing man flyover is symbolic of the departure one of the members of our squadron, members of our air wing, and in this case, our Navy,” he explained. “It’s a symbolic final farewell to a great man who left a tremendous legacy of selfless service to his nation and his family behind.”
“Being selected to participate in this memorial is one of the highest honors a Naval Aviator can receive,” Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, told the Virginian Pilot. “In addition to being our president, he was also one of our brothers, flying combat missions off aircraft carriers during World War II. His service to our Navy and nation merits a tribute of this magnitude.”
According to the U.S. Navy, a total of eight squadrons will participate in the memorial formation. The units involved in the giant aerial tribute include Strike Fighter Squadron 103 (VFA-103), the “Jolly Rogers”; Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143), the famous “Pukin’ Dogs”; Strike Fighter Squadron 32 (VFA-32), the “Swordsmen”; Strike Fighter Squadron 83 (VFA-83), the “Rampagers”; Strike Fighter Squadron 131 (VFA-131), the “Wildcats”; Strike Fighter Squadron 105 (VFA-105), the “Gunslingers”; Strike Fighter Squadron 31 (VFA-31), the “Tomcatters”; and Strike Fighter Squadron 87 (VFA-87), the “Golden Warriors.
According to the U.S. Navy, the memorial flyover and missing man formation jets will be over President and First Lady Bush in College Station, TeAS, at 16.15 CST Thursday.
Former President Bush, who passed away on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, was a decorated naval aviator who flew the Grumman TBM-1C Avenger torpedo bomber with Torpedo Squadron Fifty-One (VT-51) from the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto (CVL-30) during WWII. Bush flew 58 combat missions and survived being shot down over the Pacific in 1944. He was also one of the youngest combat aviators in the U.S. military at the time, only 18 years old when he was first commissioned on June 9, 1943.
Former President Bush also served as the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 until 1977 under then-President Gerald R. Ford. Bush was elected 41st President of the United States in 1988 and served from 1989 until 1993.