First African-American AFA Graduate Passes Away

By: news Email
By: news Email

The first African-American to graduate from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs has passed away.

Charles Vernon Bush died on Monday at his home in Montana. He was 72 years old. Bush graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1967. He served in Vietnam as an intelligence officer. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and had a successful career in business.

11 News posted his story on the KKTV Facebook page and in just a few hours more than 28,000 people clicked the like button as a tribute to him.

Here is the full News Release from the Air Force Academy:

Charles Vernon Bush, Class of 1963, entered the Academy with his two African-American classmates, reporting as a cadet in June 1959. He distinguished himself as a squadron commander, a member of the Academy's debate team, and a member of the Cadet Wing champion rugby team.

Having received academic course credits from Howard University, Bush was accepted into a special joint Academy/Georgetown University Masters program, commencing with graduate courses in his senior year, which included his oral comprehensives in the Russian language.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1963, Bush received
his Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Georgetown
University in June 1964, and was inducted in to the Georgetown chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society.

He then attended Air Intelligence Officers School, and served at
Westover AFB, Mass., where, among his other activities, he taught
undergraduate political science courses at American International College.

After becoming fluent in the Vietnamese language at Sanz Language School, in Washington, D.C, he was assigned to Vietnam in 1967as an intelligence officer.

In Vietnam, he was responsible for the deployment and operations of
six intelligence teams operating from a number of sites, including Saigon, Bien Hoa, Nha Trang, Pleiku, Da Nang and Can Tho. The teams were involved with significant intelligence operations, particularly involving the attack on Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and the defense of the Marines and South Vietnamese at the Battle of Khe Sanh.

Returning to the United States in May 1968, Bush was again assigned
to Headquarters Air Force Special Projects Production Facility, at Westover AFB, as chief, Technical Analysis Division. He resumed teaching political science courses at American International College.

In 1970, Bush resigned his commission, then attended Harvard
Business School, majoring in Finance. He spent the rest of his professional career in numerous business enterprises, serving as manager and senior corporate executive in such companies as Merrill Lynch-White Weld Capital Group, Max Factor, and Hughes Electronics.

Included among his many distinguished business and academic
activities, Bush was an Academy Falcon Foundation Trustee, and a guest lecturer at the Academy's Department of Management. He was a diversity consultant for both the Air Force and Air Force Academy.

Bush received many accolades in both his military and civilian
careers. While in the Air Force, he received the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

"The United States Air Force Academy is saddened to learn of the
passing of one our most notable graduates, Chuck Bush," said Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, Academy Superintendent. "Our hearts go out to Tina, Chip, Kyra, Bettina and all of the Bush family.

"A member of the Class of 1963 and the first African-American
graduate, Mr. Bush's courage and commitment to enhancing diversity in the United States military will pay itself forward for many generations," Gould continued. "The Academy family is truly proud to call Mr. Chuck Bush one of our own."


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