View Full Version : R. Bush, WWII Medal of Honor recipient

06-15-04, 07:19 AM
R. Bush, WWII Medal of Honor recipient
New York Times
Jun. 14, 2004 12:00 AM

WAUKEGAN, Ill. - Richard E. Bush, who received the Medal of Honor for leading a charge up a mountain in the World War II battle for Okinawa and then falling on a hand grenade to protect fellow Marines, died last Monday at his home in Waukegan. He was 79.

The cause was a heart ailment, his son, Richard Jr., told the Chicago Tribune.

When he joined the Marines out of high school, Bush, a native of Glasgow, Ky., hardly envisioned himself a war hero, as he recalled four years ago. "I didn't want to get any medals," the Marine Corps quoted him as saying then.

When he and his brother entered the service, he said, "My father said: '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 about our welfare and our safety."

On April 16, 1945, serving with the 4th Marines, 6th Marine Division, Bush was involved in some of the fiercest combat in WWII's Pacific campaign, the fight for Okinawa.

In the face of Japanese artillery fire, Bush, a corporal, led his squad up rocky terrain in the battle to capture the 1,200-foot Mount Yaetake in northern Okinawa, an outpost overlooking two important roads. While participating in the breakthrough to the deeply entrenched inner defenses of the mountain, Bush was seriously wounded and evacuated with others to protecting rocks.

While Bush "was prostrate under medical treatment," as his Medal of Honor citation put it, a hand grenade hurled by a Japanese defender landed amid the Marines. Bush "unhesitatingly pulled the deadly missile to himself and absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his body," the citation said.

The grenade explosion tore several fingers off one hand and cost Bush sight in one eye, according to Heroes of WWII, by Edward F. Murphy.

Bush was later a longtime employee of the Veterans Administration. He is survived by his son and two grandsons. His wife, Stella, died in 1989.

In 1990, Bush recalled his exploits for the Chicago Tribune: "I wasn't out there alone that day on Okinawa. I had Marines to my right, Marines to my left, Marines behind me and Marines overhead. I didn't earn this alone."