WWII Vet Francis Bushong Served Aboard USS Nashville

We’re into Day 2 of Military Appreciation Week. Each day this week I’m featuring an excerpt of a story I’ve written from my 10 WWII vet books.

Today is Francis Bushong who served in the Navy.

After you’ve read his story, check out other posts on this blog — it’s full of stories of other veterans!

His full story is told in my book, We Gave Our Best: American WWII Veterans Tell Their Stories.

And don’t forget my Youtube channel with dozens of short videos to grow your patriotism!

Thanks to all of our American veterans for their service to our country!

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After WWII, Francis Bushong married and became a teacher.

Francis Lee Bushong — Navy/ Pacific

On December 13, 1944, while patrolling the Philippines, the USS Nashville was attacked by a kamikaze. When the Japanese plane hit the Nashville midship, it exploded, killing 143 American sailors and injuring nearly 200 others.

Francis Lee Bushong of Decatur, Ind., had been at the stern (back) of the ship during the attack. He was not injured. “The day before, I had stood where the torpedo hit,” he said. “If that kamikaze had hit one day earlier, the explosion would have killed me.”

Despite being heavily damaged, the Nashville managed to provide anti-aircraft fire before reaching an Allied port for repairs.

Twenty-three-year-old Bushong wondered if he would survive the war and if he could kill the enemy when needed when he began military duty in August 1943.

Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco toward Pearl Harbor, he only had to wait a few months until the Nashville’s crew bombarded the beach of Wake Island, providing fire support against the Japanese military.

Bushong was assigned during general quarters to the covered main battery. He helped load shells into the ship’s anti-aircraft guns.

Any doubts about his ability to support his crew members disappeared.

Bushong never forgot his near-miss from death by the kamikaze. He believed his survival was a sign that God wanted him to do something meaningful with his life after the war.

One at least one occasion the Nashville’s crew defended the Australians against the Japanese. “The Australians only had two ships,” said Bushong. “They were thankful for our help.”

In August 1945 the war ended with Japan’s surrender. Bushong, lacking the necessary 85 points needed for discharge, was sent to the Huangpu River area in China to help with the country’s clean-up.

By the time he was discharged, Lt. Bushong had participated in 13 landings.

Back in Indiana, Bushong chose a career he felt would give back to his community – he became a teacher. He taught in Kendallville and Central High School, Anthis Career Center and Indiana-Purdue in Fort Wayne before retiring in 1985.

Bushong and his wife Betty Jane became parents to two children.

“What I saw in the war was hard to talk about for a long time,” he said. “But fighting as a soldier taught me that we should be happy for every day. I’ve spent my life after the war trying to do that. I’d go back and fight for our country today if I could.”

The End

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