Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Bush, Robert E.

Bush, Robert E.

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Hospital Apprentice First Class, USNR, (1926-2005)

Robert Eugene Bush was born on 4 October 1926 in Tacoma, Washington. In 1944 he left high school to enlist in the U.S. Navy Reserve and subsequently served as a Hospital Apprentice First Class. On 2 May 1945, during the battle for Okinawa, he was a Rifle Company Medical Corpsman with the Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, Fifth Marine Division. While attacking the enemy, a Marine Officer fell wounded in a fire-swept location. Bush, who had been assisting other wounded Marines, went to the officer's exposed postion and administered blood plasma amidst the perilous battle conditions. As the Japanese counterattacked, he courageously remained with the disabled officer, firing back with one hand while holding the plasma bottle in the other. Despite his own serious injuries, Bush continued to provide aid until his patient was evacuated. For his "conspicuous gallantry" on this occasion, he was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on 5 October 1945, during "Nimitz Day" celebrations at the White House in Washington, D.C. He was the youngest World War II Navy man to receive the Medal of Honor.


During the following decades Bush was a successful businessman in Washington State and worked on behalf of military veterans. Though his combat injuries left him with only one eye, he qualified as a private pilot and flew his own airplane. Robert E. Bush died on 8 November 2005 and is buried at Fern Hill Cemetery, Menlo, Washington.


Concerning his Medal of Honor, Bush reportedly commented: "This medal wasn't given to me because I'm the greatest guy who came down the pike. We had thousands who lost their lives who were certainly identifiable as being able ... to receive the Medal of Honor. But perhaps it wasn't properly documented. So, I look at it as though I'm a custodian for those who died." (quoted from his obituary in the "Washington Post", 10 November 2005).


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