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First Black Air Force Academy Graduate Dies

In this Aug. 14, 2012 photo, a ground crew member climbs down the ladder of a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, which was built in 1958, at Kadena Air Base on Japan's southwestern island of Okinawa. For decades, the U.S. Air Force has grown accustomed to such superlatives as unrivaled and unbeatable. Now some of its key aircraft are being described with terms like decrepit. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

By// Mariah Craddick

Charles Vernon Bush, the first African-American to graduate from the Air Force Academy, died at his home in Lolo, Mont. on Nov. 5 after battling colon cancer, according to Tri Lakes News. He was 72.

Bush graduated from the academy in 1963 and went on to receive his Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Georgetown University. He later attended Air Intelligence Officers School and taught political science courses at American International College while serving at Westover Air Force Base.

While in the Air Force, Bush received several honors including 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 of our most notable graduates, Chuck Bush,” academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould said in a statement. “Mr. Bush’s courage and commitment to enhancing diversity in the United States military will pay itself forward for many generations.”