#18 George H.W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) served as the 41st President of the United States (1989–93). A Republican, he had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States (1981–89), a congressman, an ambassador and Director of Central Intelligence; he is currently the oldest surviving President.
Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to Senator Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Bush postponed going to college, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on his 18th birthday, and became the youngest aviator in the U.S. Navy at the time. He served until the end of the war, then attended Yale University. Graduating in 1948, he moved his family to West Texas and entered the oil business, becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.
He became involved in politics soon after founding his own oil company, serving as a member of the House of Representatives, among other positions. He ran unsuccessfully for president of the United States in 1980, but was chosen by party nominee Ronald Reagan to be the vice presidential nominee, and the two were subsequently elected. During his tenure, Bush headed administration task forces on deregulation and fighting the "War on Drugs".
In 1988, Bush launched a successful campaign to succeed Reagan as president, defeating Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis. Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency; military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf at a time of world change; the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later. Domestically, Bush reneged on a 1988 campaign promise and after a struggle with Congress, signed an increase in taxes that Congress had passed. In the wake of economic concerns, he lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton.
Bush is the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, and Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. He is the most recent president to have been a World War II veteran. Until the election of his son George W. Bush to the presidency in 2000, Bush was commonly referred to simply as "George Bush"; since that time, the forms "George H. W. Bush", "Bush 41", "Bush the Elder", and "George Bush, Sr." have come into common use as a way to distinguish the father from the son.