William Douglas Bush, Jr. – First Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Courtesy of his Classmates: United States Military Academy, Class of 1949

08 July 1924 – 26 March 1951
Killed in Action in Korea
Aged 26 years.

WILLIAM DOUGLAS BUSH.  You need meet him only once and you would never forget him. He stood six feet one, weighed two hundred pounds and was every inch a man. His coal-black hair, strong features, and strict military bearing commanded a second look anywhere. And the sparkle and devil-may-care look in his eye with his determination and do-or-die attitude, made him indispensable on any team. His loyalty, leadership, and devotion to his friends made him loved by both his men and comrades.

This was William Douglas Bush. Jr. as he was and still remains in the hearts of his friends and loved ones alike.

Doug was born on 8 July 1924 at Tampa, Florida, where he attended grade school. At the age of twelve he was enrolled in Castle Heights Military School and thus was started early on his military career. He had attended Vanderbilt University for only a short while when, in 1942, he entered the service as a private in the Army. The following year he went to OCS and to paratroup school at Fort Benning, Georgia. There he received his commission and paratroup wings and went overseas with the 82nd Airborne Division with which he made 2 combat jumps. He was made a first lieutenant after his first jump and fought through the battle of the Bulge before being returned to the United States to attend the USMA Preparatory School at Cornell University for several months and entered West Point in July, 1945.

At West Point Doug excelled in sports and military leadership. At one time or another he played varsity football, track, soccer, lacrosse, boning, and gymnastics. During his First Class year he was a cadet captain and company commander. As company commander Doug displayed those qualities of leadership which were destined to make him a superior leader on the field of combat.

While at West Point Doug met his future wife, Carolyn Thomas of Washington, D. C. They met at a dance at Camp Buckner during his yearling year and were married on 8 June 1949 in Washington.

Doug was graduated into the Infantry, but be had his heart set on flying. He spent the first week after his graduation and marriage haunting the halls and offices of the Pentagon, filling out applications and requests for transfer to the Air Force – all to no avail. Knowing there was one man who could help him, he made a personal call on General Bradley, then Chief of Staff of the Army, at his home at Fort Myers, Virginia.

After some difficulty he was ushered in to see the General. When Doug left he had the General's verbal order for his transfer to the Air Force along with six of his classmates who were in the same situation. This visit with General Bradley made a profound impression on Doug. It was his greatest ambition to make a record of which the General would be proud.

At the end of graduation leave Doug and his bride reported to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, for basic pilot training. He ate and slept flying every moment and made up his mind to become a fighter pilot. Here again his ambition met head-on with a regulation that prohibits six foot one inch fighter pilots. However when the orders were cut, six foot one inch Bush was among those destined for jet school at Williams Air Force Base.

It was at Williams Air Force Base that a son, William D. Bush, III, was born to Carolyn and Doug.

Flying the F-80 at jet school just whetted Doug's appetite for bigger and better things to come. He graduated number one in his class and was assigned to the 335th Fighter Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base, flying F-86 Sabres. On 11 November 1950 the squadron left for Japan and then to Korea, He flew 10 combat missions on the squadron commander's wing before his squadron was pulled back to Japan after Kimpo Airfield was overrun.

On the way to rejoin his squadron he ran into several of his old comrades from the 82nd Airborne and heard about the jump that they were planning for Good Friday. He then arranged for a thirty-day leave and permission to join the airborne operation. Doug jumped from the plane of a classmate who reported him to be in good spirits prior to the jump and to have landed safely. He was on the ground three days successfully carrying out his mission. The following is an account of his last days as written to his wife by a classmate:

“We jumped near Munson-ni on March 23rd. After a day in that vicinity we moved over to the east to the area north of the key city of Uijongbu to link up with friendly units coming up from the south. The fighting was bitter. Late in the afternoon of March 26th our ‘I' Company was trying to fight up Hill 228 overlooking the main road leading up to the 38th parallel. Doug called in plane after plane on the dug-in enemy postions on top of the hill. Just before dark ‘I' Company was thrown back with heavy losses. Doug left his radio operator and went forward on the pretense of observing the effect of his air strikes. It is my belief that he was looking for a chance to take over a portion of the battered company, as word – later proved incorrect – had come down that ‘I' Company – had lost all its officers. Part way up Hill 228 a single mortar fragment caught Doug under his right arm. He died before anyone could get to him. Under the cover of darkness his body was carried down off the hill along with the brave men who died with him. In his pocket was a small Bible. To the best of my knowledge Doug's body is now buried at the U.N. cemetery near Pusan awaiting eventual shipment to the United States.”

No, we who knew him will never forget him. And to each of us who has had the satisfaction of his friendship, although we sorrow at his parting, we are proud to have known him. He had a flaming spirit and a redoubtable courage which have inspired us all and which are exemplified in the following statement, which Doug made to a classmate when he was a cadet. “You know, I want to fly for the Air Force, but my first and true love is the Parachute Infantry. Someday I will return to the Troopers to lead them in battle and again experience the exhilarating feeling of hurtling down into the fray.” What better epitaph can be written of a man who was every inch a soldier.

John A. Poulson and William H. Spillers, Jr.

Willliam Douglas Bush, Jr.
Tampa, Florida
Born July 8, 1924
First Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force
Service Number 19673A
Missing in Action – Presumed Dead
Died March 26, 1951 in Korea

A member of the United States Military Academy Class of 1949, Lieutenant Bush was a decorated veteran of World War II.

In Korea, he was a pilot of a F-86 Sabrejet fighter bomber with the 335th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Group.

He was listed as Missing in Action against the enemy on March 26, 1951.

For his leadership and valor, Lieutenant Bush was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star for Valor, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the Republic of Korea War Service Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.


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