MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- For Airman 1st Class Jake Bush, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron electro-mechanical technician, July 1 was a seemingly normal Monday.
Just hours after completing a CPR refresher training course, Bush was put in an unlikely situation which required him to put his skills to good use.
He rescued three people from the Missouri River in Ulm, Mont. A native of Randolph, N.Y., Bush set his eyes on fishing on Holter Lake, Craig, Mont., but at 9 p.m., he settled for the short trip to Ulm. Within 10 minutes of reaching the first access spot underneath the Ulm Bridge, Bush noticed something was wrong. "I noticed two girls were struggling in the water about 150 yards away," Bush said. "Then a man ran in and tried to save them. Then I saw all three were having trouble so I immediately ran down to the side of the river and dove in. As soon as I got to them, I realized we were stuck in a whirlpool - a place where the water is deep next to a sandbar."
Bush brought the youngest teenager to shore, who was unhurt at the time. He returned to the water to rescue the two others and brought them to shore.
"Honestly, I didn't think I was going to make it to shore," Bush said. "On the surface, the river looks still but can be deceiving underneath. It took all of me to make sure they made it to the shore." Although the man - Ernest Lamere - was unresponsive, Bush performed CPR until emergency crews arrived. Unfortunately, Lamere passed away July 2, according to Cascade County Sheriff's Office officials, in an article published by the Great Falls Tribune. Wing One would like to convey our deepest condolences to the families affect by this tragedy.
"If I hadn't taken the refresher course that morning, I would have still had the knowledge from taking the CPR course two years ago," Bush said. "But having the refresher knowledge definitely helped." Bush said humbly that he couldn't just stand by; he had to do something.
"I'm not a hero; anyone would have done the same if they were in my shoes," he said.
As Bush's story went viral over the course of the days following the incident, many words of praise echoed through the Great Falls and Malmstrom Air Force Base communities. "I can't begin to describe how proud and grateful I am [of Bush]," said Col. Robert Stanley, 341st Missile Wing commander. "[He] demonstrated for all of us exactly what America needs right now - selfless people who put the needs of others ahead of themselves. Fortunately for us at Malmstrom, there are many others like [him] out there, patiently waiting for [their] moment - that defining instant in time where they make an indelible difference in the lives of those around them."