George H.W. Bush takes a skydive: That's one way to celebrate 90!
Two years ago, George Bush Sr. made a promise that he aimed to keep: When he turned 90 years old, he'd take a plunge.
And he did: The 41st president celebrated by going skydiving one last time Thursday morning.
His granddaughter and TODAY contributor Jenna Bush Hager announced the plan on TODAY. His tandem jump took off from Walker's Point, near Kennebunkport, Maine, where the whole family was gathered.
When the elder Bush turned 88, he told Bush Hager that he had "one more left in me." He dived for his 80th and 85th birthdays, too, making this his eighth parachute jump overall.
Bush Hager's announcement on TODAY came after her interview with President Obama, who talked fatherhood and growing up in the White House. The president also sent a special birthday wish to her grandfather.
"He is as fine a man as I know, and whenever I see him with you guys, you can tell how beloved he is by his kids and his grandkids, and I just want him to know that from the whole Obama family, we wish him all the best,'' Obama told Hager.
Thursday morning, Bush Sr. waited in Kennebunkport, hoping the weather cooperated in order to let him make the jump from 10,000 feet with retired members of the U.S. Army's Golden Knights.
The former president suffers from a form of Parkinson's disease that has mainly confined him to a wheelchair in the past year.
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In 1944, when he was a 20-year-old fighter pilot, his plane was shot down while attacking a Japanese installation on the island of Chi Chi Jima in the Pacific. Bush Sr. parachuted into the open water, suffering only minor injuries before he was rescued by an American submarine. Two other men who were on the plane with Bush were killed.
"You felt being scared sometimes, not all the time,'' he told Bush Hager on TODAY. "When I was coming down in the parachute, I was scared, and I was scared when I was in the water swimming, getting away from the Japanese island. I was scared."
The ordeal sparked his love of skydiving, even though his first jump didn't go so well.
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"I did it wrong,'' he said. "I pulled the ripcord too early and hit the tail of the plane with my head, just (taking a) glancing blow. I've decided that later on, well, I want to do it right. And so that did spark my interest in making another jump, (and) this time getting it correct."
Bush Sr. has tried to live life to the fullest since getting a second chance.
"Well, I'm sure I could have done a lot of things better, but it's been a fulfilling time in my life, and a lot of experiences including being president of the United States,'' he said. "Not too shabby. It was an interesting time, and I enjoyed it all, enjoyed life and all."