SEBRING — The Republican Party of Highlands County will honor the late President George H.W. Bush on Dec. 13 with a eulogy.

Kathy Rapp, chair of the Highlands Republican Party, said former Sebring mayor George Hensley will give a eulogy of Bush at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 at Inn on the Lakes, during the organization’s regular meeting.

The late 41st President of the United States died Friday at age 94 at his Texas home. He was born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924, was a student leader at Phillips Academy in Andover and enlisted in the armed forces on his 18th birthday.

The youngest pilot in the U.S. Navy when he received his wings, he flew 58 combat missions during World War II. During one mission over the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot, he was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and rescued from the water by a U.S. submarine.

Of nine airmen who escaped their planes after being shot down during bombing raids in September 1944 on Chichi Jima, a tiny island 700 miles (1,100 km) south of Tokyo, eight were captured. Bush, then a 20-year-old pilot, was the only one to evade capture.

He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action.

When he returned, he married Barbara Pierce. They had six children: George W., Robin, John (known as Jeb), Neil, Marvin and Dorothy.

Robin died at age 3 from leukemia, an event that defined and ultimately strengthened the Bush’s marriage.

Barbara Bush died earlier this year in April.

According to whitehouse.gov, Bush started a career in the oil industry of West Texas after graduation from Yale University, and eventually became interested in public service and politics, serving in the Senate, as vice president to Ronald Reagan, and then as president for one term immediately after Reagan.

His presidency played a critical role in reunifying Germany and oversaw the first Gulf War.

Hensley is a retired captain in the U.S. Naval Reserves. Hensley earned that rank in 1980, the same year he ran for and won a Sebring city council seat.

He served five terms and ran for mayor in 1998, an office he held until retiring in 2014.

The local event to honor Bush is set to take place upstairs in the Royal Palm Room, Rapp said.

Dinner will be served from 5-6 p.m. before the event, Rapp said. Attendees will pay for their own meals and order off the menu, she said, but Inn on the Lakes has asked that organizers give a head count.

Rapp said people will need to make a reservation by calling the Highlands County Republican headquarters at 863-402-5456 or by calling her directly at 863-381-1390.

The youngest pilot in the U.S. Navy when he received his wings, Bush flew 58 combat missions during World War II. On one mission over the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot, he was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and was rescued from the water by a U.S. submarine.{/span}

He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action.

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