April 21st, 2008

Parachuting With President Bush

file under Fred Malek, President Bush - Fred Malek @ 4:41 pm
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You may have seen the article the Washington Post business section did on me that appeared in today’s Business Section: “Brokering Power In Business and Politics: Buyout Firm Founder Fred Malek’s Career Spans Nixon to McCain.”

I was amused to see that the piece picked up on one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in my life: Parachuting with former President Bush.  Here’s what the reporter wrote:

Malek, by his admission, is not entirely warm and fuzzy, but he is likable and has a knack for winning people’s trust. He could relax a mouse who was about to be eaten by a cat. In this case, he created a clubby, insider atmosphere, showing off photos from a lifetime of moving in and out of power. There’s Malek with his former executive assistant, Gen. Colin Powell. There’s Malek with his ex-boss, President Richard Nixon. There’s Malek with former president Bush, after parachuting out a plane to celebrate Bush’s 80th birthday. “Did Bush jump, too?” Rued asked. “Hell yeah,” Malek said.

Here are some more details from that jump.

It was June 2004.  President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 80th birthday by parachuting twice onto the grounds of his presidential library.  He made both leaps in tandem with experienced jumpers from the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute team from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  My jump was made a few days earlier along with his son Neil and several of his grandchildren.   The President gave us encouragement and congratulated us on completion. While I’d jumped before when in the Army, I found leaping from a small plane at 13,000 feet terrifying.

First lady Barbara Bush watched the jumps, as well as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Of course, as a Navy pilot during World War II, Bush bailed out of his plane when his torpedo bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire south of Japan.  That was probably his most famous parachute jump of all.  Still, for an 80-year-old, the former President did quite nicely on his 80th.  A moment I’ll always remember and treasure.


Fred Malek President Bush from Washington Post

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