The Telegraph, Alton, IL., August 09, 2003
WOOD RIVER -- Both of Randy and Barbara Bush’s children will come home soon from duty in Iraq, but the circumstances are almost more than they can bear.
The Bushes’ worst nightmare came true Friday when they were notified that their son, U.S. Army Pvt. Matthew Bush, 20, was discovered dead in his squad’s camp near the Iraqi city of Mosul.
About 11:30 a.m. Friday, a sergeant from the Army Reserve facility in Wood River arrived at the family’s home and told Barbara Bush that her son had been found dead in his barracks early Friday morning.
One of Matthew Bush’s fellow soldiers went to wake him, only to find that he was unresponsive. His mother said officials then notified the reserve unit, which in turn sent the sergeant to her apartment.
"When that sergeant came up to the door, I just fell to the ground. I knew what she was going to tell me. I saw her standing there, and I knew it was going to be about one of my kids," Barbara Bush said. "How does a 20-year-old man go to sleep and then not wake up?"
Matthew Bush joined the Army in January and graduated from basic training in April. He then went to Fort Jackson, S.C., for training to become a heavy-wheel vehicle mechanic. His unit, the first squad of the 4th Infantry Division’s 10th Cavalry, then was transferred to Fort Hood, Texas.
But he is not the only Bush child to serve in Iraq. Pfc. Deann Bush, 19, his sister, is a member of the Army’s 101st Airborne. She joined the Army in July 2002.
"When Matthew saw his little sister graduate from basic training, that was it, he was hooked," said their father, Randy Bush. "I remember him looking at me and telling me that he knew he was going to do this."
His squad, which was shipped to Iraq on July 15, was based in northern Iraq, nowhere near his sister. His mother said he enjoyed the work he was doing there but also noted the stifling heat.
"He never said that he was feeling bad or that anything was ever wrong, but he talked about the heat all the time," she said. "I never wanted either one of my children there. I didn’t want them in the Army, but it’s what they wanted."
Deann Bush has been in a number of regions of Iraq since she first was deployed there in April. Her father said she is with her division on an airfield in northern Iraq, but not for long.
Randy Bush said Army officials are making plans to transport his two children back home.
"Deann is going to escort him home," Randy Bush said. "I didn’t want to have to tell her over the phone, but I had to do it. She had to know."
"She’s coming home right now. We want her here as soon as possible."
Matthew and Deann Bush, both graduates of East Alton-Wood River High School, were close and had what their father called a friendly rivalry.
"Once he saw her walk down the aisle at (basic training) graduation, he said ‘Hey, if she can do it, then so can I’ and that was how they were with each other. They were close, and I don’t think Deann took this very well."
Randy Bush said his children made telephone calls to their parents on a regular basis and that he had spoken with his son Aug. 4. No mention was made about any kind of ailment, but Randy Bush said his son complained about the extreme heat -- which has been as high as 132 degrees in recent weeks.
"Who knows if that had anything to do with his death? We might not ever know what the real cause was," Randy Bush said. "It’s difficult to take right now."
Army officials say an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of Matthew Bush’s death.
Family and friends at Barbara Bush’s apartment Friday said both children wanted to become career soldiers, with hopes of going through college soon.
Memories are keeping family and friends together through this, Randy Bush said.
"He was 20 years old. He had his whole life in front of him to do whatever he wanted," Matthew Bush’s father said as his eyes swelled with tears. "Something just doesn’t seem right, but I guess that’s natural. But no matter what, we’re all extremely proud of both of our kids."
The Telegraph, Alton, IL., August 15, 2003
EAST ALTON -- Preliminary results of an autopsy performed on a local soldier who was found dead in Iraq last week reveal that he probably died from extreme heat, the family told The Telegraph Thursday.
Pvt. Matthew Bush, 20, was found dead Aug. 8 in his barracks near Kirkuk, Iraq, by a bunkmate who tried to wake him. He served in the first squad of the Fourth Infantry Division’s 10th Cavalry.
His father, Randy Bush, said Thursday that his ex-wife, Barbara Bush, spoke with a U.S. Army medical examiner who explained that the cause of their son’s death has not been determined officially, but the preliminary results show sweltering temperatures in the Iraqi desert were the likely reason.
The autopsy was performed by a U.S. Army medical examiner Wednesday in Dover, Del. Matthew Bush’s body was shipped home Thursday and arrived at Paynic Home for Funerals in Rosewood Heights. State officials reported Thursday that the complete autopsy report would not be available for another four to six weeks.
Matthew Bush last had spoken with his parents early last week, and his father said he was complaining about the heat then but did not mention any signs of illness.
"We don’t know what happened for sure, but we think it happened because of how hot it was over there," Randy Bush said. "He said it was hot over there, but you can’t know when something like this is going to happen."
The Bush family has been inundated with condolences and support from other family members and friends, but political leaders from both the state and federal levels offered assistance other people could not.
U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, and Eric Schuller, policy adviser for Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, have been in contact with the Bush family on a daily basis since Matthew Bush’s death.
"This is not very easy for anybody," Costello said. "I’m a parent myself, and my son served 10 months in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the first (Persian) Gulf War. I can just only imagine what they have been going through. I was on pins and needles for 10 months while my son was over there.
"We want to provide for the family as much as we can," he said. "We have an obligation to provide all the information possible."
Schuller called Barbara Bush this week to express his condolences, and that is when the Lieutenant Governor’s Office got involved.
"Barbara indicated she was experiencing some difficulty in getting at least the preliminary results of the autopsy," Schuller said. "She wanted to know something about his death before the funeral. She wanted some sort of closure."
Matthew’s sister, Pfc. Deann Bush, 19, was serving with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne in Iraq when her brother was found dead. Upon learning of his son’s death, Randy Bush immediately asked Army officials to have her returned to her family as soon as possible. Randy and Barbara went to Nashville, Tenn., to pick her up and bring her home earlier this week.
"Oh, we’re all hanging in there, doing about as well as you’d expect us to be doing," Deann Bush said. "It’s been hard, but everybody has been very kind."
Visitation is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Paynic Home for Funerals, 618 East Airline Drive in Rosewood Heights. Funeral services will start at 10 a.m. Monday at the First Assembly of God Church, 781 North Ninth St., in Wood River. Burial will be held immediately after the services at Carter Cemetery in Carrollton with full military honors.
The Telegraph, Alton, IL., August 15, 2003
Pvt. Matthew Bush
EAST ALTON Pvt. Matthew D. Bush, 20, died at 6:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 8, 2003, in Kirkuk, Iraq.
He was born Dec. 4, 1982, in Alton to Barbara A. (Carter) Bush of Wood River and Randy D. Bush of East Alton.
He graduated from East Alton-Wood River High School and was proudly serving his country in Iraq as a private in the U.S. Army.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by a sister, Deann Bush, who is also serving in the U.S. Army; a brother, Phillip Bush of East Alton; his maternal grandmother, Rita Carter of Bethalto; his paternal grandmother, Betty Landers of Wood River; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Paynic Home for Funerals in Rosewood Heights.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the First Assembly of God Church in Wood River. The Rev. Mark Palenske will officiate.
Burial will be at Carter Cemetery in Carrollton with full military honors.
Memorials may be given to the Army Relief Fund or to the 5A’s Animal Shelter in Alton.Submitted by: Allen Handling