The Times, Nov 12, 2009
The story of how this Veterans Day in Tualatin was proclaimed “Navy Airman Bushnell Day” is one of community dedication.
It was more than 39 years ago that 21-year-old Tualatin resident Brian Bushnell, a Navy Airman, went missing when his E2A Hawkeye airplane caught fire during a routine into Vietnam and disappeared on its way back to the USS Coral Sea over the Gulf of Tonkin. At the time, there was no local news coverage.
Earlier this summer, the National League of POW/MIA Families made request of the city of Tualatin to find more information about Bushnell as part of their project to document and honor 1,777 missing-in-action servicemen and prisoners of war from the Vietnam Era. Bushnell was one of only 68 soldiers the group had little to no information on.
The city passed the request on to Tualatin Historical Society President Yvonne Addington, who worked to locate photos of Bushnell, as well as family members. She eventually found two photos, and located Brian’s brother Scott Bushnell in Lake Forest Park, Wash. She also learned that Brian attended Tualatin Elementary School and graduated from Tigard High in 1968.
Working together with the Tualatin VFW Post 3452, Addington brought the matter to the City Council, who officially proclaimed at Monday night’s meeting that this Veteran’s Day, Nov.11, 2009, would be in honor of Brian Bushnell.
“I’m kind of stunned by everything that’s going on,” said Scott Bushnell, who spoke briefly at the council meeting about his brother’s honor. “At the time of Brian’s death, Vietnam was not a popular thing … It would have been better to honor the vets from Vietnam at the time, but it’s better late than never.”
Addington said that she relished the opportunity to help honor a Tualatin veteran, especially since he wasn’t recognized at the time of his death.
“I couldn’t understand why I didn’t know Brian Bushnell,” said Addington, who served as Tualatin city manager during that era. “I didn’t like the feeling that no one here had honored him.”
In addition to the official city proclamation, two spots in the city will now bear Bushnell’s name. There will be an engraved brick with Bushnell’s name in the Tualatin Heritage Center garden and a plaque hanging in the Tualatin VFW Post, 18820 S.W. Boones Ferry Road.
“I have written so many letters to so many towns and most of them go unanswered,” said Candace Lokey of the National League of POW/MIA Families in thank you note to Addington. “If every town responded the way Tualatin has – these men would never be forgotten. I wish every town had a mayor like yours. I wish every town had a person like you. Every military member that has given their life deserves to be remembered and honored for that sacrifice. Their families need to know that their loved ones were appreciated. Tualatin has done that.”