Assignments in the US Navy became stepping stones towards the presidency of 6 US presidents starting with John F. Kennedy in 1961 to George H.W. Bush in 1989. The US Navy is known to develop men of strong character and moral fiber because of its emphasis on training, education, and mentorship. Kennedy served as a lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II. His Patrol Torpedo Boat 109 was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. Kennedy acknowledged that the brush with death shaped him to become the man he was destined to be. His heroism, when he rescued 11 of his crew, earned him a Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart. More importantly, his actions endeared him to a generation of Americans.
Service in the US Navy was also the hallmark of the military career of the 38th US President and University of Michigan college football star, Gerald Ford Jr. Fresh from his graduation from the law school of Yale University, he enlisted in the US Navy after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Gerald Ford served onboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey in various capacities as antiaircraft battery officer, assistant navigator, and Athletic officer. Attaining the highly-coveted rank of lieutenant commander upon his discharge from active service in 1946, Gerald Ford Jr. was awarded numerous commendations for his stint in the war such as the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic-American Campaign Medal with one silver star and four bronze stars, the American Campaign Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two bronze stars.
George H.W. Bush enlisted as a US Navy torpedo bomber pilot and held the rank of Lieutenant. With his plane on fire after being hit by a Japanese anti-aircraft barrage, Bush made it back after 4 hours of floating at sea. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.