James Emerson Bush, Jr. – Captain, United States Army Air Corps

Courtesy of His Classmates
United States Military Academy Class Of 1943

James Emerson Bush, Jr.
11 November 1921 – 27 May 1944
Died when shot down by Japanese Zeros over Shinshow, China, aged 22 years
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia



James Emerson Bush, Jr.  (“Bushie” to his family) now rests in peace in Section 34, Grave 2403, of Arlington Cemetery. His West Point ring, with a touch of magic, brought him there from an obscure grave in Shinshow, China.

“Bushie” was the first of three sons of Colonel and Mrs. James Bush to graduate from West Point. From his earliest days he had two loves —  West Point and sports. He was a natural leader. In sandlot sports he was the pitcher, the quarterback, the  leader-of- the-team sort of guy. In school he was the popular scholar. He won a scholarship to Cranbrook School (1937–1939), where he excelled in sports, academics, and  curricular activities. He won a competitive appointment to West Point from Michigan, entering a month after graduating from Cranbrook.

At West Point, “Bushie” survived the shock of plebe year and grueling yearling  academics, and, at his earliest opportunity, began to fall in love — with one young lady after another. But his final love was the Air Corps.

Completing his aviation training in South Carolina, “Bushie” qualified in P-47s and volunteered for service in Europe. Instead, he was assigned as an instructor until he finally broke loose by volunteering for P-40s with the Flying Tigers in China. In the fall of 1943 and in the spring of 1944, he led his Chinese wingman in forays against the Japanese. On the fateful day of 27 May 1944, Captain Bush, age 22, was shot down by Japanese Zeros over Shinshow, China.

Three years later, a West Point graduate, Harold H. Ruth, Class of 1945, was walking down a street in Seoul, Korea. He noticed a young native wearing what looked like a West Point ring. He apprehended the Korean, turned him over to local authorities, and alleged what appeared to be theft of jewelry from a U.S. officer stationed in Seoul. When the authorities tried to track down the “James E. Bush” whose name was inscribed in the ring, they were shocked to find that the owner had been killed three years earlier. Intensive interrogation of the prisoner revealed that the Korean had been a prisoner of the Japanese in China, had seen “Bushie’s” plane shot down, and was on the burial detail which dug the shallow grave and robbed the body of the ring.

The most amazing part of the story is that the Korean was able to lead the  Quartermaster graves registration team from Korea back into China — back to the shallow grave — and back out with “Bushie’s” remains shortly before Mao’s communist forces overran the area for good. Recovery would have been impossible had it not happened in time! So a fine airman now lies among his comrades at home.

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