West Milford man remembers late President George H.W. Bush

| 12 Dec 2018 | 12:58

WEST MILFORD – Among those who met and fondly remember the late President George H. W. Bush, is a West Milford retired United States Navy man who served in the military for 20 years.
George Patrick Durr of West Milford was attached to the US Naval Forces Fifth Fleet Command in Manama Bahrain as an executive close protection officer for Vice Admiral Charles Moore Jr. in the spring of 2000.
The local Navy man was among those assigned with the job of keeping former President George H. W. Bush safe when the president visited Bahrain and other bases throughout the Middle East that year.
“President Bush (41) had a good handshake and looked me right in the eyes when he asked for my name and where I was from,” Durr said. “He asked about my family and how my mom and dad were doing. He said they must be very proud of me. I replied that was true – my family is very proud of what I’m doing.”
Former President Bush said he always treated security people well because at any given moment they were willing to sacrifice their lives for his.
“I ran a 9-man Security Detail for President Bush, his wife, and all flag level officers,” Durr said. “Heads of State and visiting dignitaries and celebrities on the USO tours who came overseas needed us to keep them safe.”
He said he was selected by his peers to drive President Bush from the airport to the base, and that all dignitaries in the Middle East had to be transported in armored vehicles in case of an attack.
“We drove an armored Mercedes Benz 500 in which all of my officers completed the Anti-Terrorism Driving Course at Mercedes Benz in Stuttgart, Germany, as well as at several other driving schools including Bill Scott Raceway in Summit Point West Virginia and ITI in Richmond Virginia as well as the Army Protective Services School at Fort McClelland in Alabama and Robert L. Oatman in Towson Maryland,” Durr said.
At the airport in Bahrain, the Navy vehicles were staged next to the aircraft that brought President Bush in, he said.
When Bush came out of the plane he was greeted by the American Ambassador and Admiral Moore. The president was escorted to the waiting vehicle by secret service people.
“Once the door was secured we started moving,” Durr said. “There were four Bahrain Highway Patrol motorcycles leading, followed by the lead vehicle, an armed Chevy Suburban, carrying NCIS personnel, me, in the second vehicle, and behind me was another armed Chevy Suburban with Navy Seals at the doors and in back ready to engage if we fell under attack.”
Durr said the drive back to the base from the airport went off without any problems, and the conversation in the back seat between President Bush and Vice Admiral Moore was pleasant and professional.
When the group arrived at the base they went right to the Admiral’s Office where President Bush was greeted by the Admiral’s Chief of Staff, Durr said. "After small talk, the president wanted to take photos with our security team starting with me first," he said.
He said the photo was taken and afterward he waited around until it was time to leave.
His mother, Adele Durr, said she and her late husband, William (Bill) Durr of Adelaide Terrace, took special pride in their son’s military achievements.
President George H.W. Bush died at age 94 in Houston, Texas on Nov. 30. After lying in state at the US capital and funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, Bush had a service at the Houston Church where his family worshiped. His remains were taken by a special funeral train to the Texas A & M University and he was buried at his presidential library there. Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, died in April.