Update at 6:10 p.m. Eastern on Thursday: The Navy performed a record-breaking 21-jet flyover in honor of President George H.W. Bush during burial proceedings. Watch below:
Former President George H.W. Bush is being honored in many ways this week after his death at the age of 94. The U.S. Navy, in which he served in World War II, has something extra special in store, too.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Navy typically honors the dead by flying what’s called a missing man formation. That involves four jets flying in V-shaped formation over a memorial ceremony before one of the planes peels away, signifying the departure of one of their own.
It’s a powerful, ground-shaking symbol.
But according to the U.S. Naval Institute, the Navy will up the ante for Bush by performing a record-breaking 21-aircraft missing man formation.
The aerial display will take place on Thursday at the funeral service for the former president in Texas. On Wednesday, Bush was honored at a large gathering in the National Cathedral in D.C.
His loved ones will attend the Thursday funeral at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. His final resting place for his remains will be alongside the grave of his wife at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.
“Being selected to participate in this memorial [with a flyover] is one of the highest honors a Naval Aviator can receive,” said Rear Adm. Roy Kelley. “In addition to being our president, he was also one of our brothers, flying combat missions off aircraft carriers during World War II. His service to our Navy and nation merits a tribute of this magnitude.”
Thirty F/118-Hornets and Super Hornets flew to Texas on Tuesday to prepare for the flyover. The lead plane has the names “President George H.W. Bush, 41” and “Barbara, First Lady” painted in prominent places on its fuselage.
Upon his death, the Navy shared a riveting video of his Bush’s time in combat: