He’d had the POW/MIA bracelet for more than 40 years and he’d always wanted to know who the man was whose name was on the POW/MIA bracelet: Capt. John Bush 7-24-68. But he’d never been able to find out – until now. He was 70 years old and he’d just gotten his first laptop computer. So one day his wife said to him, “Why don’t you look it up on Google?” It’s hard to believe, but he wasn’t comfortable doing that. However, his wife was computer savvy and she walked him through it.
He went to Google and typed in the words “Captain John Bush” and pressed Return. In about 0.37 seconds he got a typical Google search results screen with about 21,000,000 results. At first he didn’t know what to do. But Google search results always include related images, and as he looked at the “Images for captain john bush” displayed near the top of the search results, it dawned on him that he had found something.
There were seven images, but one of them jumped out at him. The first two images on the left looked like they were images of someone from the 19th century. The third image was obviously a young man in a 20th Century American military uniform. The fourth image was of a woman from the 18th or 19th Century, while the fifth image was of a POW/MIA bracelet. The sixth image was of a man in a uniform from the early 20th Century, and the last image looked like a mug shot.
So the man who had the POW/MIA bracelet decided that the person in the third image might be the John Bush on the POW/MIA bracelet. So he clicked on the image and it opened a link to the Virtual Wall – John Bush, CPT, Air F… web page.
The man who had the POW/MIA bracelet had no idea what that screen was for, but when he clicked on the “Visit Page” button, it opened the page for John Robert Bush on The Virtual Wall website, and there was the information that the man had been trying to find for more than forty years. It was a remembrance that had been posted by a close friend of John Bush on July 24, 2001, and it explained who John Bush was and how he had been lost in Vietnam. Here is the text of that remembrance.
John Robert Bush
497TH TFS, 8TH TFW, UBON RTAFB, 7TH AF
United States Air Force
Fort Walton Beach, FL
Panel 51W Line 047
The Most Intense Man I Ever Met
“John Bush and I were classmates in Undergraduate Navigator Training (UNT), Class 67-19, at Mather AFB, California. He was short, about 5 feet eight, weighed about 160 pounds, had short cropped dirty blonde hair, a muscular frame and a nose that was longer than most.
“He’d graduated from the Air Force Academy a couple of months before we met in 1966, and he was the most intense person I’ve ever known. He was remarkably intelligent, incredibly competitive and supremely self-confident. He had earned his paratrooper’s jump wings while a cadet, and as a navigator student he used to do all the math on his flight logs in pen, because he knew he wouldn’t make a mistake. That made hand-to-hand combat training very interesting because he and I were always paired up, because we were about the same size and weight.
“It also made classes interesting. Sometimes, the academic program in navigator school seemed to be designed to wash people out of the program. After an exam, the class would gather and the instructor would announce the grades from top down, best score first. The Weather exam was particularly tough, and the tension in the class rose as score after score was announced without John being mentioned. Finally, he was the only one left and the instructor asked, “Okay Bush, what happened?” John sat there silently, waiting for the instructor to go on. We didn’t know what disaster had struck, but we could tell that John had finally messed up. “You know, Bush,” the instructor said, walking down the aisle toward him. “Nobody has ever gotten a hundred on the Weather exam. What happened? You only got a ninety-nine.”
“John had a likeable personality, and he could laugh at himself. John and his wife, Kathy, couldn’t have children, but they had a puppy. One day while we were picking up our hats from the table at the back of the classroom where we always left them, I picked up someone else’s hat by mistake. John knew it was his because the puppy had chewed a hole through the headband. I think he enjoyed the laugh as much as everyone else.
“In navigator school, John finished second in the class, while I finished in the middle of the pack. Rumor had it that our class would not get any choice assignments, so both John and I decided to take a chance and go to Navigator Bombardier Training (NBT) in hopes of getting a better assignment. The rumors were right, no good assignments — transports and tankers, no combat berths.
“In NBT, John and I took turns driving to work. He drove a red Triumph TR6 convertible, and whenever a Bob Dylan song came on the radio, he’d grumble something under his breath and immediately change the station. We also took turns being number one in the class. But in the end he beat me out by 6/10ths of a point, which meant that when the assignments for our class came down, and the instructor wrote them on the blackboard, John got to walk up first and pick the one he wanted. Naturally, he picked the only F-4D slot.
“Prior to 1968, both crewmen in Air Force F-4 fighter bombers were almost always pilots, unlike the Navy and the Marines which regularly used radar observers in the back seat. John was one of the first non-pilots to fly as a GIB (guy in the backseat) of an Air Force F-4D fighter bomber. It was a really choice assignment.
“As close as we were, I never saw John again after graduation. On July 24, 1968, First Lieutenant John Robert Bush, 25, was lost on a mission over North Vietnam. According to the intelligence report I heard the next day; his plane was inverted when it hit the water in the Gulf of Tonkin. He had been flying missions over Laos and North Vietnam for only about six weeks. The pilot was Harley B. Hackett III. Both men were listed as missing in action, but their status was changed to Killed – Body Not Recoverable.
“It’s been 33 years, but I think of John Bush every day.
“A memorial from his Friend, 24 Jul 2001”
Directly beneath this was the address of the person who had posted the remembrance. Miraculously, the person who had posted the remembrance lived about 9 miles away from the person who had the POW/MIA bracelet. He’d had the POW/MIA bracelet for more than 40 years and he’d always wanted to know who John Bush was. Now he knew, but more than that, John Bush’s friend lived just down the road. What are the odds of that happening?
According to the United States Census Bureau’s U.S. and World Population Clock, the population of the U.S. on November 22, 2015, the day the man found the remembrance, was: 322,206,303. That’s 322 million people. Think about that. There are more than 322 million living in the United States, and the person who had the answer to the questions he’d been asking for more than 40 years lived less than ten miles away from him. It must have been meant to be. So he looked up the man’s phone number and gave him a call.
Talk about getting a phone call out of the blue. When the man who had the POW/MIA bracelet told the man who had posted the remembrance 14 years earlier why he was calling, the man who had posted the remembrance had to take a moment to recompose himself because he literally could not breathe.
They talked for a while and then agreed to meet the next day at a coffee shop in the village where the man who had posted the remembrance lived. They talked and sipped coffee for about three hours. The man who had the POW/MIA bracelet gave the POW/MIA bracelet to John Bush’s friend.
How do I know this? I’m the person who now has a POW/MIA bracelet for Capt. John Bush, the best friend I ever had. There are more than 322 million people in the Unites States. What are the odds of picking one at random and having that person live within ten miles of you?