By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Dec. 6, 2018) Berlin resident Mike Wiley last week marked the passing of 41st U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush on Nov. 30 by sharing a story and photos of the time they met.
Wiley was a shift lieutenant at Anne Arundel County Fire Station 23 when Bush was vice president under Ronald Reagan.
“The passing of former President and Vice President George H. W. Bush reminds many of us that were stationed at 19 and 23 of his visit around 1985,” Wiley said. “He attended an event at an estate in 19’s first due area … near the former Westinghouse Complex at the Bay Bridge.
“On the day of the event, both Engine Companies 19 and 23 had their staffing increased by overtime from three to five personnel,” he continued. “The foam pickup tubes in use at the time were pre-connected and five-gallon foam cans were set up. I had to go down the day before to the landing site and be instructed on how to open the VP’s emergency door.”
Wiley said the landing went well, but fire company personnel were instructed to “not go near the dignitaries.” Still, several of them planned to take pictures.
“We were previously told it was OK to bring our cameras,” he said, adding that as Bush stepped out of the helicopter, fellow firefighter Carl Titcomb began snapping photos.
“A Secret Service agent came up to Carl and said, ‘give me your camera.’ Carl and I both had visions of him opening our cameras (pre-digital days of course) and pulling the film out and holding it up to the sunlight. At that time he said, ‘stand over by Mr. Bush and I will take your picture.’ In addition, the staff photographer took a group shot of us plus individual pictures of each of us with Bush,” Wiley said.
“It was quite an honor to be involved with something like that and I think we were all just very excited about it – both crews from both stations,” he added.
Wiley, a lifelong Democrat, said photos of the former Republican president and vice president hang on the wall of his home.