Roland G. Busch, Korean POW

Ken Steinhoff Trinity Lutheran School 1st Grade Scrapbook 1953I was looking at a copy of my first grade scrapbook when the entry for September 22, 1953, caused me to scratch my head. The last sentence said, “Mother and [I] went to the parade for Roland Bushe POW. They took so long in getting ready that I went to sleep in the car.”

It took a little while to track the story down because the Korean prisoner of war was actually Lt. Roland G. Busch.

You can read the whole Missourian story here (some of the microfilm didn’t copy cleanly). In part, it said, “An estimated 3,000 persons gave Roland G. Busch, Jr., a hero’s welcome Tuesday night as the young Navy flyer returned home after 16 months in a Communist prisoner of war camp in Korea. Busch, three times decorated, presumed dead, and newly promoted to lieutenant junior grade, told a crowd in Courthouse Park he just wanted to see some State College Indian football games.

The photo caption said that Lt. Busch was greeted by Mayor Manning P. Greer and the flyer’s family: his mother; Mrs. R.G. Busch, his sisters, Mrs. Gene Olson and Miss Della Lee Busch; his brother, Elwin, and his father, R.G. Busch.The family stopped in Columbia to visit the veteran’s youngest sister, Miss Jacqueline  Busch, a student at University of Missouri.

Pilot dies in crash

A February 18, 1961, Missourian article added details about the flyer’s Korean saga, but also carried the sad news that he had been killed in a plane crash off the coast of California. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. R.G. Busch, 309 South Spanish, were told that his plane collided with the water and neither it nor his body were recovered.

Subject of wartime mystery

“During the Korean Wat, Lt. Busch was the object of one of wartime’s mysteries that was not cleared up until he was finally released from a P.O.W. camp.

“His parents, on May 28, 1952, were notified by the Navy he had lost his life the previous day when his plane crashed into a Korean mountainside. Yet they talked with him only a few days before in a Tokyo hospital and he said he would not be going back into combat because of burns suffered when an anti-aircraft incendiary burst in his plane’s cockpit. It subsequently developed that Lt. Busch had been dismissed from the Tokyo Hospital and returned to his carrier, The Valley Forge, but not on combat flight duty. The ship was to have returned to the States in just a few days on rotation and he was to have come back.

“But in the meantime, his shipboard roommate, now Lt. Cmdr. H..E. Sterrett, Jr., who married one of Lt. Busch’s sisters, was shot down. Lt. Busch asked for flight assignment to join search parties. It was while he was on this mission that his plane was shot down.

“He remained a prisoner of war for 17 months.”

 Here’s my “sailer hat”

Ken Steinhoff Trinity Lutheran School 1st Grade Scrapbook 1953Since it was mentioned above, I guess I should include a photo of me sporting my “sailer hat.”

Side note: Mother has been out in Austin visiting her Granddaughter Kim’s family. She called me from the airport in Austin. “I was sitting here waiting for my flight to be called when a man walked up and asked if I was Mrs. Steinhoff. When I said I was, he said he recognized my photo from the blog.”

She didn’t get his name. They should quit hanging photos of the Most Wanted on post office walls. I think we can do better publishing them here.