Robert E. Bush, 79

Robert E. Bush died Nov. 8 near Olympia, Wash. He was 79.

He earned the Medal of Honor during World War II fighting on Okinawa, where he lost an eye – and nearly his life – while treating a wounded Marine Corps officer and holding off charging Japanese troops at the same time. He was one of 482 Navy corpsmen on Okinawa, six of whom who received the Medal of Honor.

The loss of an eye made it difficult for him to earn his private pilot’s license, but he persevered. He played ping-pong to regain hand-eye coordination, which served him well, although it took several years of training for the FAA to approve his license.

A logger’s son, Bush was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1926. He left school in 1943 to join the Navy Medical Corps. After the war he finished high school and in 1951 he bought a lumber yard for several hundred dollars. He turned it into a multimillion dollar building materials enterprise before retiring in the mid-1980s.

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