An American Hero

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 062024
 

Given the patriotic theme of this week, I wanted to repeat a blog from a few years ago about one of the men who fought to give us the freedoms we have in the country.

On a trip through South Bend, Washington, I stopped to pay my respects to an old friend. Bob Bush owned the first office I rented for my first newspaper in Grays Harbor, Washington, a lifetime ago. He was a successful businessman who gave me some valuable advice that has served me well over the years. “Avoid negative people, they’ll drag you down every time. Associate with winners, not losers. And never take business advice from anybody who isn’t doing better than you are.”

Bob, who has since passed on, was a true American hero, the youngest sailor to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II, as an eighteen year old Navy corpsman. His hometown of South Bend erected this memorial to him, and Tom Brokaw included a chapter about Bob in his excellent book The Greatest Generation.

Bob was a very nice man who was proud of his service but never bragged about it, just acknowledged that yes, it happened. Here is Bob’s Medal of Honor citation:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Medical Corpsman with a rifle company, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Jima, Ryukyu Islands, 2 May 1945. Fearlessly braving the fury of artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire from strongly entrenched hostile positions, Bush constantly and unhesitatingly moved from one casualty to another to attend the wounded falling under the enemy’s murderous barrages. As the attack passed over a ridge top, Bush was advancing to administer blood plasma to a marine officer lying wounded on the skyline when the Japanese launched a savage counterattack. In this perilously exposed position, he resolutely maintained the flow of life-giving plasma. With the bottle held high in one hand, Bush drew his pistol with the other and fired into the enemy’s ranks until his ammunition was expended. Quickly seizing a discarded carbine, he trained his fire on the Japanese charging pointblank over the hill, accounting for six of the enemy despite his own serious wounds and the loss of one eye suffered during his desperate battle in defense of the helpless man. With the hostile force finally routed, he 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. His daring initiative, great personal valor, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in service of others reflect great credit upon Bush and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”

Like most real heroes, Bob seldom talked about what happened that day on Okinawa. The only time I know of him recalling what happened was in an interview when he said, “The first grenade took my right eye out, and I put my arm up to hold it off and got some fragments in the other eye. Got a lot in my eye and shoulders. They hit me with three hand grenades in a matter of seconds. I was firing on them with [the lieutenant’s] carbine. Every time I saw a Japanese head pop up, I could see the star on their helmets, I’d fire one round a foot below where I saw that head come up, because I knew I couldn’t miss, I’d get ’em on the way down.”

Bob had dropped out of school to join the Navy, and after recovering from his wounds he returned home to join his high school graduating class and marry his sweetheart, Wanda.

He once told me that his biggest regret about all of it was that he lost an eye during the battle and the Navy would not let him return to duty. He felt bad that there were other GIs and Marines who needed a good corpsman and he would not be there to help them.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of Tinder Street, the first book in my Tinder Street saga. Chronicling the days leading up to World War I and the events that followed, Tinder Street is the first book in a saga that will take readers from rural farms to a major industrial city in the Midwest, across an ocean where German U-boats lurk waiting for a target to come within range of their deadly torpedoes, to the bloody trench warfare of France, and home again. And of how, back at home, the soldiers of a victorious Army try to put their experiences behind them and pick up the pieces of the lives they once had, to look toward a future bright with promise. Lucas Morgan was one of those soldiers, a man who hated the thought of killing, but did his duty. A duty that would haunt him long after the last shots were fired.

This is also the story of the simple working class people who built America. Farmers, factory workers, streetcar conductors, midwives, and public servants. Their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, and how these people who struggled together to build a better life for themselves and their children changed a place named Tinder Street to Tender Street, a reflection of one family’s devotion to their neighbors. This series is one I have wanted to write and have researched for years.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 30 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. This one is courtesy of longtime reader Rick Devoy.

Thought For The Day – Heroes don’t have the need to be known as heroes, they just do what heroes do because it is right and it must be done. – Shannon A. Thompson

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  One Response to “An American Hero”

  1. Thank you for sharing the story of Bob.

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