Bush, John Robert, Capt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1551A-Weapon Systems Officer
Last AFSC Group
Weapons and Munitions
Primary Unit
1968-1973, MIA Vietnam
Service Years
1966 - 1968
Foreign Language(s)

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Bush, John Robert (Oreo 2), Capt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Ft Walton Beach, Florida
Last Address
Ubon RTAFB, Thailand

Casualty Date
Jul 24, 1968
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Vietnam, North (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
US Air Force Academy Cemetery - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Wall/Plot Coordinates
51W 047

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Association of Graduates USAFAVietnam Veterans Memorial
  2010, Association of Graduates USAFA
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Navigator Observer (basic)
Parachutist (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
3539th Navigator Training Squadron3536th Navigator Training SquadronFighter Weapons School F-4497th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Night Owls
8th Tactical Fighter Wing - Wolf PackUS Air Force
  1966-1967, 3539th Navigator Training Squadron
  1967-1967, 3536th Navigator Training Squadron
  1968-1968, 1525A, Fighter Weapons School F-4
  1968-1968, 1525A, 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Night Owls
  1968-1968, 1525A, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing - Wolf Pack
  1968-1973, MIA Vietnam
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1968-1968 Various Air Missions over North Vietnam
 Colleges Attended 
University of AlabamaUnited States Air Force Academy
  1961-1962, University of Alabama
  1962-1966, United States Air Force Academy
 My Aircraft/Missiles
T-29 Samaritan  F-4 Phantom  
  1966-1967, T-29 Samaritan
  1967-1968, F-4 Phantom
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  May 28, 2019, General Photos2
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

On 24 July 1968, Captain Harley B. Hackett, pilot; and 1Lt John R. Bush, weapons systems officer; comprised the crew of an F4D, call sign "Oreo 02," that departed Ubon Airfield as the #2 aircraft in a flight of two conducting a night armed reconnaissance mission. Capt. T. D. Gill, pilot; and 1st Lt. R. G. Pierce, weapons systems officer; comprised the crew of the lead aircraft, call sign "Oreo 01."

The flight was diverted from its original target area to interdict NVA traffic seen moving through an area known as "Black Route" located north of the major North Vietnamese port city of Dong Hoi. The weather conditions consisted of a cloud overcast with bases ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet, visibility of 6 miles unrestricted with light rain and light winds. The water conditions in the Gulf of Tonkin adjacent to the target area included a calm sea with 1-foot waves and a slow current moving from north to south.

When the flight entered the target area, Capt. Gill contacted the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC) for instructions. He was notified of moving targets on the road and directed Oreo flight to attack them. Capt. Gill told Capt. Hackett to follow him in on an attack pass. As both Oreo 01 and 02 pulled off target, Capt. Gill reported his aircraft had sustained battle damage from enemy anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire. Shortly thereafter, Capt. Hackett declared an in-flight emergency stating they had also been hit by AAA and his aircraft was on fire.

Capt. Gill vectored him to the coast on a heading of 060 degrees. Capt. Hackett and 1st Lt. Bush were able to put the fire out while continuing out to sea. As a safety precaution with two battle damaged aircraft, Oreo 01 and 02 added a greater separation between their aircraft.

At 2004 hours, Oreo 01 was approximately 15 miles off the coast. Because the lead aircraft was experiencing flight problems, Harley Hackett vectored Capt. Gill and 1st Lt. Pierce on a heading to DaNang Airfield, the nearest large US military base capable to handling damaged jet aircraft at night. This was the last radio contact with the crew of Oreo 02.

Within minutes Capt. Gill and 1st Lt. Pierce determined their aircraft was no longer airworthy. After notifying the ABCCC and air/sea rescue, who was already standing by in case their services were needed, both crewmen safely ejected. Capt. Gill was successfully rescued by a SAR helicopter and 1st Lt. Pierce was picked up by a US Navy vessel.

Meanwhile, a Navy aircraft in the area reported seeing a second aircraft crash inverted into the water. In the darkness, no parachutes were seen and no emergency radio signals heard. Visual and electronic SAR operations for Harley Hackett and John Bush were initiated immediately.

Over the next 18 hours ships and aircraft continuously searched the area where Oreo 02 disappeared. The SAR efforts were terminated at 1400 hours on 25 July when no sign of aircraft wreckage or either crewman was found. However, while SAR personnel found no trace of the missing aircrew, they saw enemy fishing vessels operating in and around the search area. At the time the search was suspended, both Harley Hackett and John Bush were immediately listed Missing in Action.

The Phantom disappeared in the Gulf of Tonkin adjacent to Binh Dinh Province, North Vietnam. The location of loss was approximately 5 miles southwest of Hom Gio Island, 11 miles due east of the coastline and 25 miles due north of Dong Hoi.

Under the circumstances, and in spite of Capt. Hackett and Capt. Bush being declared Missing in Action rather then Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered, it is highly likely that both man were killed in this tragic loss at sea. Their only hope for survival would have been if enemy fishing boats picked them up, and that was a slim possibility at best.



I knew John Bush from Boy Scouts.?? We were fellow Eagle Scouts. We were 
both in the Scouts honor society, Order of the Arrow. This group 
promoted camping, Native American lore and service. I was Rifle Range 
Director at BSA Camp Tukabatchee. John was a member of our range staff 
where we taught marksmanship and rifle safety to 11 year old plus 
Scouts.?? We also were counselors for the Marksmanship merit badge and 
certified shooting for the the NRA Junior program marksmanship awards.

I recall John, even then, being very professional and serious. I believe 
his dad was a NCO in the Air Force stationed at Craig Field AFB in 
Selma, AL. John got his Eagle Scout Award while in a troop in Selma.

I know John graduated from A.G. Parrish High School in Selma, I believe 
in 1961.

This photo is from summer 1959 when we would have both been 16. We are 
all holding .22 cal. rifles. We were taking them to the range to setup 
for our 6 week summer camp near Prattville, AL. Legend L-R: Jim 
Robertson, John Bush, Sam Wynden

Jim Robertson
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