George HW Bush National Cathedral Funeral PA

George HW Bush's Funeral Takes Place In Washington

George HW Bush was the last US President to experience combat, serving in World War Two.

George HW Bush National Cathedral Funeral PA

The flag-draped casket of former President George HW Bush is carried by a joint services military honour guard from the US Capitol (Picture: PA)

World leaders have packed into the National Cathedral in Washington DC for the funeral of the former American President and Second World War veteran George HW Bush.  

The 94-year-old passed away last week at his home in Houston, Texas, seven months after the death of his wife, Barbara.

A viewing for the 41st president at the hushed Capitol Rotunda closed on Wednesday morning, and his coffin was carried to Washington National Cathedral for a state funeral.

George Bush Lying In State DVIDS
Nearly 4,000 military and civilian personnel took part in George HW Bush's state funeral (Picture: US Department of Defense)

The ceremony caps three days of remembrance by dignitaries and ordinary citizens as they honour the Republican president who oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, only to lose a re-election in a generational shift to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.

The four living ex-presidents - Jimmy Carter, Mr Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama - were all at the service, and Bush Jnr delivered one of the eulogies.

President Donald Trump also attended.

George Bush body brought to St Andrew's Air base 03122018 CREDIT US Dept of Defense
George Bush's casket arrives at St Andrew's Air Base, MD. near Washington DC (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Born in 1924, Mr Bush joined the US Navy on 13th June 1942, the day after he turned 18.

He completed 10 months of pre-flight training and was commissioned as the youngest pilot in the Navy on 9th June 1943.

He was posted to the Pacific where in August 1944 he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade.

The following month he encountered anti-aircraft fire whilst piloting an Avenger light bomber.

The plane was hit, bursting into flames, but Bush completed his mission; releasing his bombs and damaging the target.

Bush then successfully bailed on the aircraft, but the other two crew members did not survive.

"We were trained to complete our runs no matter what the obstacle," he recalled in later years.

He was awarded America’s Distinguished Flying Cross and footage of him being pulled out of the water would later feature in some of his political campaigns.

Elected as US President in 1988 to succeed Ronald Reagan, Bush was Commander in Chief when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

“Well, all right, George, but this is no time to go wobbly," was Margaret Thatcher’s instruction to him after he delayed military intervention to seek the approval of the United Nations.

In the end, the United States and her allies waged a desert war that lasted 100 hours; Iraqi troops were ejected from Kuwait and hostilities ceased on 28th February 1991.

Allied forces commander General Norman Schwarzkopf declared the mission a "spectacular success".

George Bush in Saudi Arabia 25111990 CREDIT US Dept of Defense
George Bush meets US troops in Saudi Arabia in November 1991 (Picture: US Department of Defense).

His approval ratings soared into the 90s but support for his administration dwindled in the run up to the 1992 Presidential election and he was defeated by Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton.

Now, over two and a half decades later, the body to the 41st President has been returned to Washington DC to lie in state, where long lines of Americans, including many soldiers, have filed past to pay their final respects.

Among them was former US Senator Bob Dole; the 95-year-old also served in World War Two and came to the Capitol Rotunda in a wheelchair to honour his fellow veteran. An aide helped Mr Dole into a standing position and, once steady, he saluted.

President Trump has declared today a day of national mourning and flags across the United States have been lowered to half-mast.

After the funeral the late President’s body will be flown to Texas and interned alongside that of his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Robin, who died aged three of leukaemia in 1953.