Charles Vernon Bush, 1st black US Air Force Academy grad, dead at 72

The first African-American graduate from the United States Air Force Academy has passed away.

According to Tri Lakes News, Charles Vernon Bush was 72 when he died in his Lolo, Montana home Monday, losing a battle with colon cancer.

“The United States Air Force Academy is saddened to learn of the passing of one of our most notable graduates Chuck Bush,” academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould said about the 1963 graduate.

During his time at the academy, Bush distinguished himself as a squadron commander, debate team member, and Cadet Wing champion rugby team player.

After graduating, he received a master’s degree from Georgetown University, attended Air Intelligence Officers School and served at Westover Air Force Base.

Bush, who became fluent in Vietnamese, was assigned to Vietnam to serve as an intelligence officer in 1967. When he returned to the United States a year later, he became the chief of technical analysis at the Headquarters Air Force Special Projects Production Facility at Westover.

He also served as a diversity consultant for both the Air Force and the Air Force Academy.

“Mr. Bush’s courage and commitment to enhancing diversity in the United States military will pay itself forward for many generations,” Gould added. “The academy family is truly proud to call Mr. Chuck Bush one of our own.”

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