A Life Well Lived

Charles Bush AF academy-grad and professor at AIC

In 1963, Charles Vernon Bush was the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Charles entered the Academy with two African American classmates, reporting as a cadet in June 1959.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1963, Charles received his MA degree in international relations from Georgetown University in June 1964. He then attended Air Intelligence Officers School, and served at Westover Air Force Base in nearby Chicopee, MA where, among his other activities, he taught undergraduate political science courses at American International College.

He became fluent in Vietnamese and was deployed to Viet Nam for one year. Upon his return to Westover Air Force Base, he resumed teaching at AIC.

At the time of his death in Montana in 2012, then-Academy commandant Lt. Gen. Mike Gould said, “Mr. Bush’s courage and commitment to enhancing diversity in the United States military will pay itself forward for many generations.”


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