ABC’s Jon Garcia and Yazhou Sun report:
When former president (and WWII Navy man) George H.W. Bush jumped out of a helicopter to celebrate his 90th birthday today, a U.S. Navy supercarrier – USS George H.W. Bush – did something special at sea.
An aerial shot of the carrier – along with a birthday letter to the former president – was uploaded to its official Facebook page, showing flight deck crews making up a colorful image: 41= 90.
The carrier’s celebration of the 41st president of the United States turning 90 was a joint effort by several different flight deck crews, including the famous “skittles” – those flight deck crew members who wear brightly-colored jerseys as they launch and land aircraft off the ship. Green is the maintenance personnel, red is the ordnance men, yellow is the plane directors, white is the medical personnel, and blue is plane handlers.
The crew planned ahead. The photo was actually taken April 13 from a Seahawk helicopter while in transit in the Arabian Sea, “before it got too hot,” a Navy spokesman said. The carrier set off on a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in February.
The ship is the only Navy carrier with a living namesake and Captain Andrew J. Loiselle said the crew usually sends Bush 41 birthday greetings but knew they needed to do something special for the 90th.
“He’s still feisty and for the little amount of time I’ve gotten to know him, it’s been an honor,” Loiselle said. The former president keeps up with ship operations by getting weekly reports through his staff, Loiselle said.
It took 7 years to build the 97,000-ton carrier and it was commissioned in 2009. It is home to some 6,000 Navy personnel and cost about $4.5 billion to build, according to the ship’s Navy web page.