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June 15, 2004

 

 

Richard E. Bush, 79; 
Was Honored for WWII Acts

As a 21-year-old Marine, Richard E. Bush, seen in this circa 1945 photo, earned the Medal of Honor for leading a successful charge during the battle for Okinawa.
By Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer

Richard E. Bush, who earned the Medal of Honor for leading a successful charge and saving fellow Marines during the fierce battle for Okinawa during World War II, has died.

Bush, 79, died June 7 of a heart ailment at his home in Waukegan, Ill.

As a 21-year-old corporal, Bush earned the nation's highest military award for his actions as a squad leader with the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 6th Marine Division, during the April 16, 1945, final assault on Okinawa's Mount Yaetake.

"Rallying his men forward with indomitable determination," the citation read, "Cpl. Bush boldly defied the slashing fury of concentrated Japanese artillery fire pouring down from the gun-studded mountain fortress to lead his squad up the face of the rocky precipice, sweep over the ridge, and drive the defending troops from their deeply entrenched position. With his unit, the first to break through to the inner defense of Mount Yaetake, he fought relentlessly in the forefront of the action until seriously wounded."

Bush may have been down, but he wasn't out.

Pulled to relative safety under some rocks, he was being treated by a corpsman when a hand grenade was lobbed into the group of wounded men.

"Cpl. Bush," the citation continued, "alert and courageous in extremity as in battle, unhesitatingly pulled the deadly missile to himself and absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his body, thereby saving his fellow Marines from severe injury or death despite the certain peril to his own life."

Bush lived, but did lose several fingers and an eye. After the war, he worked for the Veterans Administration, helping veterans file claims for benefits, until retiring in 1972.

The young Marine never intended to become a hero. He didn't even want to leave his Kentucky home.

"I didn't want to get any medals," he said in a statement released by the Marine Corps in 2000 when he attended the dedication of the 6th Marine Division memorial in Quantico, Va. "In fact, when my brother and I were leaving to go into the service, I didn't really want to go. I still have all the splinters in my fingernails from where they came and pulled me off the porch."

His father didn't want either son to risk his life for medals and told them as they left the tobacco farm near Glasgow, Ky.: "Let me tell you something. If either one of you comes home with a medal, I'm going to beat you to death."

"He was concerned," Bush said in 2000, "about our welfare and our safety. My father had a saying, 'He who fights and runs away, lives to run away another day.' "

Bush was one of 14 men awarded the medals by President Truman in a ceremony at the White House on Oct. 5, 1945. He was still recovering from the severe wounds sustained in the April assault.

In his later years, Bush attended several reunions of medal winners around the country. He was among 87 present at Riverside National Cemetery in 1999 for the dedication of its Medal of Honor Memorial. His name appeared with 3,409 others initially listed on the black granite monument.

A widower, Bush is survived by his son, Richard Jr., and two grandsons

 

 

2004, by LATimes.com
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