Honored to serve his country
Prineville resident Eric Bush originally joined the Oregon National Guard at the suggestion of a high school friend.
"He talked me into enlisting. I was always interested in military service," he recalls.
So after graduating high school in 1984, he signed up later that year, choosing the Army National Guard over other branches of military service because it enabled him to stick around home while still serving.
More than 30 years later, Bush has ascended to one of the highest ranks in the National Guard, receiving a recent promotion from one-star brigadier general to two-star major general. The new rank was made official during a Saturday ceremony in Clackamas.
"I am obviously humbled and honored by being selected to be promoted to the rank of two-star major general," he said. "I never in a million years ever thought I would be able to do or have the opportunity to achieve rank at this level."
Bush was assigned in July 2013 to U.S. Forces Korea, shortly after he attained the rank of one-star brigadier general, and worked there until 2016, when he was reassigned to U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"These job assignments that I get outside of the state, they are for a set duration of time," he explained. "Essentially, at the end of that duration of time, you are either hired to work in another position or you retire."
After almost two years at U.S. Pacific Command, he was selected for another position back in Korea, only this time the work required he be a two-star major general. Bush had already met all the other benchmarks for promotion, and the new assignment made him eligible for the upgrade in military rank. He began the new job as Deputy Combined Rear Area Coordinator for U.S. Forces Korea this past February. The assignment will last three years.
"I'm in an interesting position where I work directly for the four-star commander at U.S. Forces Korea," Bush said of his new assignment. "I am his representative to the South Korean Army — or the Republic of Korea — Second Operational Command, which is one of three four-star Army commands in the South Korean Army. I work as a liaison to a four-star South Korean Army general and his command. I am essentially responsible for everything that goes on between the U.S. military, all branches of service, and the South Korean military in the southern two thirds of South Korea."
Bush said that in his position, he is operating at the strategic level, the highest level, of the U.S. Department of Defense. He sits in on meetings with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, representing his superiors.
"I have met the vice-president. I have met the former South Korean president," he said. "When you have those opportunities and operate at that level, your input, your thoughts, and the information you give to the commander and the people who ultimately have to make these big, high-level strategic decisions, matter."
Contributing to that effort and having the opportunity to serve in the U.S. alliance with South Korea is very rewarding, Bush added. He points that they are great people, and he really enjoys being a part of all of the success they have had as a partner with the United States.
Bush, who is now 52 and married with three adult children, has called Prineville home since moving to the community from Bend in 1990. He worked for the Prineville Police Department from then until 2014.
"Living and working in Prineville has been a real blessing. I have gotten a tremendous amount of support from this community," he said. "Everything that I have done and everything that has happened to me in the last 28 years since I moved here has prepared me for what I am doing today."