By Marc Kovac
Sgt. Robert E. Bush Jr. was a helicopter gunner in September 1967 when his squadron came under heavy automatic weapons fire in Vietnam.
With a need to get badly wounded U.S. Marines and others on board the aircraft to safety, Bush fired back with one hand while holding his bullet-torn thigh with the other.
He said he didn’t feel like a hero at the time.
“I was covering my butt, trying to get out of that zone with a planeload of wounded guys, and it was my duty,” he said.
On Friday, Bush, a former Youngstown police chief and current head of Mahoning County Department of Job & Family Services, was among 20 military men who were honored for their service as the newest members of the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor.
The inductions spotlight veterans who put their lives on the line in combat and who received medals for their bravery. Ceremonies at the Statehouse included accounts of heroic acts on the battlefield; half of this year’s inductees were posthumous, with recipients who died in the line of duty.
“These are real stories,” said Brent Greer, who served as master of the ceremonies. “These are heroes. The stories you heard today, we have to remind ourselves that these are real events. They’re not off a movie set, they happened. These are individuals who fought for our freedoms, and their sacrifice reminds us of those who fight for our freedom today.”
Bush served in Vietnam for about 15 months and was injured twice, spending more than a month in the hospital for the aforementioned incident.
“It’s something that you’re called upon to do, maybe not consciously, but it’s for God and country,” he said. “I don’t think you’re looking for any pats on the back ... but circumstances line up, and you’re called upon and you do what you can do.”