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The Code Word Family Members Used To Mark George H.W. Bush’s Death Tells Its Own Story About His Life

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Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

Following the death of former President George H.W. Bush on Friday, the acronym CAVU began to appear in social media posts and hashtags commemorating his life and service to his country.

CAVU is an aeronautical meteorology term that stands for the phrase “ceiling and visibility unlimited,” and because of his time spent serving as a naval aviator, that phrase held special meaning for Bush.

ATLANTIC OCEAN - JULY 14: In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, former President George H.W. Bush looks at a display of his former ship, the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto (CVL 30), in the tribute room of the aircraft carrier that bears his name, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 14, 2010 in the Atlantic Ocean. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush spent their time onboard watching flight operations, touring the ship and visiting with the crew. The George H.W. Bush is conducting training in the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by Nicholas Hall/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

ATLANTIC OCEAN – Former President George H.W. Bush looks at a display of his former ship, the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto (CVL 30), in the tribute room of the aircraft carrier that bears his name, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 14, 2010 in the Atlantic Ocean. Nicholas Hall/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

CNN’s Jamie Gangel explained that the former president had a plaque featuring that acronym in his office, noting, “He always felt it represented his life. The sky was the limit, and he had everything.”

Bush himself gave an interview in 2006 with CNN’s Larry King, reading part of a letter he had sent to his children just before the start of the Gulf War.

CAVU was the kind of weather we Navy pilots wanted when we were to fly off our carrier in the Pacific. We had little navigational instrumentation, so we wanted to CAVU, ceiling and visibility unlimited, and because of the five of you whose hugs I can still feel, whose own lives made me so proud, I can confidently tell my guardian angel that my life is CAVU and it will be that way until I die. All because of you.

According to CNN’s report, Bush’s family passed the word of his death amongst themselves using a code word. “CAVU” was that code word.

The late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, also a naval aviator, received well-wishes including the acronym CAVU when he passed several months earlier.

 

 

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