Robert Eugene Bush
Robert Eugene Bush of Tacoma, Washington, was the youngest member of the U.S. Navy in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor. At the age of 18, he was awarded the medal for heroic actions “above and beyond the call of duty” while serving as a hospital corpsman attached to a U.S. Marine Corps rifle company on this day in 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa.
Bush joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in January 1944 as an apprentice seaman. He then joined the Naval Hospital Corps. By the invasion of Okinawa, which began on April 1, 1945, he was serving as a hospital apprentice first class and assigned to G Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines.
On May 2, 1945, he was wounded in action by shrapnel from three enemy hand grenades while attending to his wounded platoon commander and at the same time, firing the lieutenant’s rifle to protect the lieutenant, himself, and the rest of the platoon during an enemy attack.
Bush was honorably discharged in July 1945 and presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in October 1945.
After the war, he studied business administration at the University of Washington and founded the Bayview Lumber Company at South Bend in 1951 and Bayview Redi-Mix at Elma, Washington, building both into multi-million dollar businesses. Bush was also active in championing veterans’ causes and served for two years as President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Bush died from kidney cancer in November 2005 at age 79.