COLLEGE STATION, Texas — This week, we have heard some amazing stories from friends and family about the life of former President George H.W. Bush. But it's hard to imagine anyone with a more unique relationship with Bush 41 than the one he had with Retired Sergeant First Class Mike Elliott.
“When you have someone of his caliber," Elliott said, "his life in your hands three different times, two miles above Earth, and you’re about to fall out of an airplane… it gives you a whole new meaning of this person. It made me feel good that he had the confidence in me.”
On three separate occasions, Mike Elliott and the U.S. Army Golden Knights jumped out of a perfectly good airplane with Bush 41.
In 2007, Bush and Elliott jumped for the rededication of the Bush Library. In 2009 and 2014, Bush and Elliott took the plunge for the former President's 85th and 90th birthday.
“Something I distinctly remember is that after the jump at the library, he said, 'just because you’re 80 years old, that doesn’t mean you have to sit around in a corner and sob over yourself,'” Elliott said.
Elliott has even been to the President's home. He was able to celebrate milestones with President Bush and his family, but it's the personal interactions and the way the former President treated veterans that Elliott says he will never forget.
"The most inspiring moment for me," Elliott added, "is when I’m sitting here in his house across from him and having a cocktail and listening to his story about being shot down. It’s one of those things... 'am I really here?' He was not the president at the time, he just spoke as a friend talking to a couple of veterans.”
And seeing the outpouring of support for the 41st President is not surprising to Elliott one bit. He feels that even after Bush has passed, he still finds a way to unite.
“I think the passing of 41, it kind of brought America together this weekend," Elliott said. "The flags at half mast, you turn on the television and everyone is talking about this great man. His great American values. I think that it sends a clear message that he was a decent man.”
And as preparations are being made to lay Bush 41 to rest later this week, Elliott has one more message for his friend.
“I would say, 'Sir… ceiling and visibility unlimited with blue skies. You lived your life well.'”