2006-11-16 / News

Community band says 'bon voyage' to young veteran and French horn player

By Michaela Kennedy

Bethany Busch Bethany Busch In the wake of Veterans Day, Jamestown is saying farewell to U.S. Navy Officer Bethany Busch, who leaves this week for training before deployment to Iraq in December. Busch has contributed her musical talents to the Jamestown Community Band and made friends here in the last four years.

"I was stationed in Newport from January to July of 2002," Busch says, adding that she joined the Jamestown band and played trumpet during that time.

Busch was sent back to the Naval War College last year. "I love it here. It's so beautiful," she says. Busch hoped to return to the Newport area someday, and was happy to come back. "Now I play French horn in the band," she points out.

Busch thought her posting in Newport would last two or three years. She looked for a home to buy, knowing that the Narragansett Bay area was a great vacation spot where she could invite her family. A week after she bought a condominium last June. However, Busch received orders to go to Iraq.

The young officer is quick to note that she would rather go than watch as one of her shipmates leaves a spouse or children. "I don't think anyone is ever happy about it, but I am proud to serve while I am still single. Someone has to go. It may as well be me," she says. The upcoming tour will be her second stint in the Middle East. Busch has already served on two ships out of Norfolk, Va., and the last ship tour went to the Persian Gulf.

Born and raised in McHenry, Ill., Busch has had the notion to serve her country since her teen years, following in the footsteps of her older brother. "I joined the Civil Air Patrol in high school," she recalls.

Graduating from the University of Illinois in 2001, Busch became a commissioned officer. Since then, she has served from operations and engineering to combat systems. "Now I teach international navy officers from all over the world at the Surface Warfare Officers School," she notes, adding that surface warfare is her specialty.

Busch confides that her mom will send her trumpet to Iraq for her. Not enough taps players are available at the memorial services in different parts of the world, so many must settle for a recording. Although it is never a joyful event, "I am happy to have the honor to play taps for soldiers at their memorial," she says.

Busch shows deep gratitude to her family and friends "who are incredibly supportive." She reminds everyone that she is only one of thousands serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas throughout the world, and they all need support, especially with the holidays approaching. "You would be surprised what even a greetings card from a complete stranger can do for a lonely soldier or sailor serving overseas," she says. She has only one request, that people take the time to understand what she is talking about by going online to www.soldiersangels.org.

The Jamestown Community Band held a special dinner for Busch, and also threw a bon-voyage party for her after her last rehearsal. Busch hopes to be back playing in the band next summer.

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