- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2005

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Robert Eugene Bush, who received a Medal of Honor for bravery in tending to the wounded while under enemy fire at Okinawa, died Nov. 8. He was 79.

Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw wrote about Mr. Bush in his best-seller “The Greatest Generation,” about the men and women shaped by the Depression and World War II.

“He was one of my very favorite people,” Mr. Brokaw said in a voicemail he left for the family. “He was a great man. He was a great model for all of us.”

Gov. Christine Gregoire ordered flags lowered to half-staff around the Capitol on Thursday.

A Navy corpsman, Mr. Bush received the nation’s highest military honor for treating wounded Marines on May 2, 1945, at Okinawa — the longest and bloodiest battle in the Pacific Theater.

According to the citation for his medal, Mr. Bush — just 18 at the time — braved enemy fire to tend to the wounded, and was administering plasma to a wounded officer when the Japanese launched a savage attack. He kept the plasma bottle in one hand as he fired at the enemy first with his pistol, then with a discarded carbine when his own ammunition ran out.

Though seriously wounded, the citation said, Mr. Bush “calmly disregarded his own critical condition to complete his mission, valiantly refusing medical treatment for himself until his officer patient had been evacuated, and collapsing only after attempting to walk to the battle aid station.”

Mr. Bush lost an eye and was shipped to Hawaii for treatment, then sent home.

Mr. Bush was born in Tacoma on Oct. 4, 1926, and dropped out of high school at 17 to enlist.

After he returned from the war, he graduated from high school and married his school sweetheart, Wanda Spooner. He and his bride traveled to the District that fall, and he received the Medal of Honor from President Truman on Oct. 5, 1945.

Mr. Bush devoted his career to building Bayview Lumber Co. into a multimillion-dollar business.

His military service was recorded at monuments and buildings in South Bend, Wash.; in Twentynine Palms, Calif.; and at Okinawa.

His wife died in 1999. Survivors include two sons, Mick and Richard; a daughter, Susan Ehle; and eight grandchildren.

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