GEORGE H.W. BUSH VISIONARY OF OFFSHORE DRILLING
George H.W. Bush (George Herbert Walker Bush) was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. He graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts in 1942, then enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Seaman Second Class. Receiving his wings and commission in June 1943, while still 18 years old, he was the youngest pilot in the Navy at that time and flew up to 58 missions in the Pacific Theater. Promoted as Lieutenant, Bush piloted one of four Grumman TBM Avenger aircraft from VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichijima. Hit by flak Bush had to bail out from his plane in fire and was rescued by the lifeguard submarine USS Finback. In November 1944, Bush participated in operations in the Philippines until his squadron was replaced and sent home to the United States. He served until the end of the war, then attended Yale University. Graduating in 1948, he moved his family to West Texas, where he entered the oil business becoming a millionaire by the age of 40. George Bush brought his unique vision and entrepreneurial spirit to offshore drilling, founding Zapata Offshore Co. in 1955. He astutely ordered an unproven Le Tourneau 3-legged jackup rig, the Scorpion, which was only the sixth jackup rig in the world. In 1957 he introduced the Vinnegaroon, the 7th jackup in a worldwide fleet of eight. Bush ordered 3 NOLA drillship conversions in 1959 when there were only two other full-capability floating rigs. In 1962, the Zapata drillship Sidewinder entered service. Only one other floater had entered service since 1959. One of the early offshore risk takers, Bush played a key role in enabling these developments by creating the organization that made them work. In 1989, he became the 41st president of the United States.
George H.W. Bush died in Houston on November 30, 2018, aged 94.