• Retired Jacksonville sailor shares memories & personal videos of the late President George H.W. Bush

    By: Tenikka Hughes , Action News Jax


     A local veteran got the chance to meet President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush twice.  

    The retired sailor was able to capture both unexpected meetings on camera and shared her memories and images with Action News Jax.

    Retired Petty Officer 1st Class Kakia Amarh spent 20 years in the Navy.  

    She said meeting late President Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush was the highest honor of her career 
    "I cherish that moment when I met them twice," Amarh said. 

    She shared a photo with Action News Jax showing the first time they met in the summer of 2001.  

    The former president threw out the first pitch at a baseball game in Maine, where the Bush family owns a retreat.  

    In the photo, Amarh stood next to Mr. and Mrs. Bush in a huddle of sailors from the USS Howard. 

    Amarh said, "I also asked if he could come to our commissioning in October in Galveston, Texas - so he said if I invited him, he would be there."

    Weeks after that meeting, our nation was rocked by the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.  

    Amarh and her fellow sailors evacuated their port in Maine and headed out to sea.  

    Bush Sr. visited the USS Howard and talked to sailors about the attacks and their mission. 

    "He gave us the blanket of hope that we needed," said Amarh.

    The former president also presented Amarh and other sailors with awards and invited them to his home.  

    Mr. Bush asked Amarh to drive the boat to take them to his property.

    "I'm getting chills thinking about that moment because it was such a good memory," said Amarh.

    She said the 41st president also gave her permission to film inside his home.  

    She provided Action News Jax with video from inside the Bush retreat in Maine.  

    In the video, the former president complimented Amarh's driving skills on the boat.  

    First Lady Barbara Bush was also there.

    She welcomed the sailors and introduced them to the family's chef, who was a retired Navy chef. 

    When asked about spending time with the Bush family inside their home, Amarh said, "It was welcoming. They were so loving. We really felt at home."

    While at the Bush home, Amarh says former president George H. W. Bush was sharing stories about his plane going down during World War II, when he got a call from his son, the acting president at the time, George W. Bush.

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