LaPlace Airman to receive commendation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

By LEONARD GRAY Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Civilian workers at military bases are common around the world. Sometimes, however, civilian workers need a good deal closer watching; and that’s where Senior Airman Gregory Bush Jr. came in during his service in Iraq.

Bush, 24, of LaPlace and a graduate of East St. John High School, arrived on June 9 as part of a security detail to Talil Air Base. There, he found a handwritten index-card system to keep track of civilian employees and other people with business on the base.

At the same time, a number of Iraqi civilians were “double-dipping” in services and aid offered, using false identities. Bush’s job – clean it up.

Bush wrote and implemented a computer software program which logged in civilian employees, contractors and refugees accepting aid, many of them improperly.

“You’d be amazed how many pull that off,” Bush said in a telephone interview this week.

The new program logs people in and out, literally to the second, bringing base security to a whole new level, he said.

Bush is the son of Lynette and Greg Bush Sr., a retired lieutenant colonel, of LaPlace. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1998.

“It was so well cross-referenced and comprehensive that the system is being used at several bases under CentCom,” his mother said.

Bush’s hard work and dedication to duty has not gone unrecognized. He will receive his promotion to sergeant in June and is up for receiving a special commendation for his achievement in forwarding the U.S. postwar efforts in Iraq.

Bush left Iraq on Nov. 13 and is now stationed at Hickam AFB in Honolulu, where he is now enjoying the holidays with his wife, Charlene, and their infant son, Hadden.

Asked about conditions in Iraq, Bush said he never had to face a combat situation, and only felt threatened once. However, the vast majority of Americans have no inkling of condition. “I never imagined this stuff,” he said, “but it’s better than I thought it would be.”

Back home, Bush’s parents are proud of their accomplished son, who is carrying on a family military tradition.

“It’s a little embarrassing,” the Airman said.