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Valley veteran reflects on meeting President George H.W Bush

Posted at 10:15 PM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 00:15:20-05

President George H.W. Bush only served one term as President of the United States; however, he leaves behind an enormous legacy and impact on the country.

Since his passing, politicians and people across the country and paid tribute to the family man who will go down in history as '41.'

Upon learning of his death, Colonel Phil Johnson reminisced on his moment meeting the former President.

"I was only around him for five minutes," Johnson said.

Albeit short, Colonel Johnson got the president's autograph, after Bush gave a speech to U.S soldiers in Somalia.

"He had already lost the election to Clinton in November, and he came over the last week of December," said Col. Johnson, who served in the Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air National Reserves.

The Colonel remembers a short speech.

"Typical stuff. Then he said, I want to talk to the soldiers. So he got off the podium and went to talk to the group and started signing autographs with his left hand."

The outgoing President signed them for 45 minutes.

"So when I got in line and got up to him. The only thing I had for him to sign was my travel orders to Somali," said Johnson. "I gave them to him, and he started to sign them and said, wait, 'Am I signing your orders to promote you to Colonel?'. It was really funny. 'No sir, no sir! Those are not promotion orders,'" said Johnson, laughing.

"And he looked up with a big smile too. It was an insight into his personality; his sense of humor, his down to earth-ness. and his interest in the troops."

The Commander-In-Chief always had a love for veterans, because he was one himself.

"He put his life on the line in World War II. He almost got killed in the ocean there when his plane went down," said Johnson.

Instead, George H.W Bush went on to live a remarkable life that will be remembered in the history books.

"All of the descriptions that you have heard in the past two or three days about him are true," said Johnson.

It was just a five-minute meeting, but Colonel Johnson believes that is all it took for George Herbert Walker Bush to reveal his true character.