HOSPITAL APPRENTICE FIRST CLASS
ROBERT EUGENE BUSH, USNR (DECEASED)
Robert Eugene Bush was born in Tacoma, Washington, on 4 October 1926. On 5 January 1944, at age 17, he dropped out of high school and enlisted as an apprentice seaman in the U. S. Naval Reserve, Class V-6, at Navy Recruiting Station, Seattle, Washington.
He trained at the Naval Training Station, Farragut, Idaho, and at the Naval Hospital Corps School there. He served at the Naval Hospital, Seattle, before further training and service with the Training Detachment (Field Medical School Battalion), Fleet Marine Force Training Center, Camp Pendleton, California. During his training he was promoted to seaman second class, and then to hospital apprentice second class. On 10 February 1945, HA2c Bush transferred to Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. He was temporarily advanced to hospital apprentice first class on 1 March.
Hospital Apprentice First Class Bush landed with 1st Marine Division during the invasion of Okinawa on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945. On 2 May, HA1c Bush’s platoon was pinned down by enemy gunfire and its lieutenant wounded well forward of the rest of the unit. Disregarding his own safety, HA1c Bush moved into the open to administer life-giving aid to the Marine. Perilously exposed on a ridge top during a Japanese counteroffensive, HA1c Bush’s own life was in jeopardy as he drew enemy gunfire and grenades. He suffered several wounds, including the loss of his right eye. Undeterred, he established an I.V. in his patient and then used the Marine’s rifle to neutralize the threat posed to his platoon by the onslaught of enemy soldiers. His actions in battle earned him the Medal of Honor.
Hospital Apprentice First Class Bush was treated for wounds received in action aboard the USS Relief and at several military hospitals before being honorably discharged from Naval Hospital, Oakland, California, on 26 July 1945. He traveled to Washington, D.C., with his new wife while on their honeymoon to receive the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman two days before he turned 19. He then used the G.I. Bill to finish high school in 1946 and later studied at the University of Washington.
Mr. Bush became a successful businessman, buying a small lumber company and building it into a multi-million dollar business over the next fifty years. He also served as President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society from October 1971 to November 1973.
Mr. Bush passed away at an assisted-living facility in Tumwater, Washington, on 8 November 2005 due to kidney cancer. He was 79.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, his awards include the Purple Heart Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Also, Bush Branch Medical Clinic on Okinawa and Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital in Twentynine Palms, California, were named in his honor in July 1988 and May 2000, respectively.
Navy Medal of Honor recipients serving with Marine units at the time of award