Richard E. Bush, 79, who died of congestive heart failure June 7 at his home in Waukegan, Ill., received the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor. The medal was for actions during World War II on Okinawa, where he had been severely wounded taking a hill and then, awaiting medical treatment, clasped an enemy grenade to save other injured Marines nearby.
A veteran of several bloody Pacific campaigns, Cpl. Bush was awarded the Medal of Honor for his work in combat on April 16, 1945. He had been charged with leading a squad of men from the 4th Marines, 6th Marine Division, in the final battle against the Japanese for control of Mount Yaetake, which oversaw a strategic crossroads on Okinawa.
The enemy held a mountain fortress and constantly sprayed fire at the Americans. Cpl. Bush took his men up the rocky ascent and over the ridge and had started to push the Japanese from their entrenched positions.
Too wounded from gunfire to push farther, Cpl. Bush and others were evacuated to protective rocks near the scene of combat. Suddenly, a Japanese hand grenade popped out of the sky and landed near the wounded men.
"Cpl. Bush, alert and courageous in extremity as in battle, unhesitatingly pulled the deadly missile to himself and absorbed the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his body, thereby saving his fellow Marines from severe injury or death despite the certain peril to his own life," his Medal of Honor citation read.
He lost several fingers of his right hand and sight in his right eye. He had so much metal in his body that he could not have magnetic resonance imaging done at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota a few weeks ago.
Richard Earl Bush, the son of a farmer, was born in Glasgow, Ky. He joined the Marine Corps in 1942 and later finished high school.
In an interview in 2000, Cpl. Bush said his father had advice for the future war hero and his brother as they were about to enter military service: " 'Let me tell you something. If either one of you comes home with a medal, I'm going to beat you to death.' He was concerned about our welfare and our safety. My father had a saying, 'He who fights and runs away, lives to run away another day.' "
Cpl. Bush also was a recipient of the Purple Heart.
After the war, he handled claims work for the Veterans Administration in the Chicago area until retiring in 1972.
His wife, Stella Ramsden Bush, died in 1989. A daughter, Judith Smith, died in 1995.
Survivors include his son, Richard Bush Jr. of Long Grove, Ill., and two grandsons.