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WWII veteran reflects on military service ahead of 93rd birthday

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CLIFTON FORGE (WSLS10)--  It's been 71 years since the end of World War Two and as this weekend approaches, a local veteran is looking back on his service-- ahead of his 93rd birthday. Everette Bush is one of just over 17,000 WWII veterans in Virginia that are still alive to tell their stories.

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He's part of a small number of veterans, known as the Greatest Generation. There are just under 700,000 WWII veterans still alive nationwide out of the more than 16,000,000 that served.

Bush traveled all around the world as part of the Flying Tigers, a group of fighter pilots that defended China against Japanese forces during the war. It's travel he started daydreaming about as early as fourth grade.

"They had those big geography books back then and reading about China and all of that, I said 'Boy, that's where I want to go,'" he says. "I was working at Radford and I got a notice, a draft notice, so I enlisted in the Air Force. It was the Army Air Force in that day, and they shipped me on from Radford to Camp Lee."

And from there his travels began. He was stationed all over the West Coast before eventually traveling to Burma and China. He even had the opportunity to fly over the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt. But Bush says his favorite plays was home. He was happy to be back in the United States and eventually in his home state of Virginia once WWII came to an end.

During his time as a pilot, Bush says he had a few close calls-- including two plane crashes that he was able to recover from. When he thinks about his favorite memory of flying, that trip was one here in the U.S., years after he had retired from the military. He says on a visit to Ohio, he was able to show off for his four kids.

"The guy [at the airport] knew me and he said, 'Hey Tiger, want to take it for a little ride?'" Bush laughs. "And I said, 'Yeah, that'd be nice.' So we flew down next to bowling green and all around. I took the kids riding there... They still bring it up now."

As one of the few remaining men from his squadron, Bush says the yearly reunions have come to an end. He still celebrates his fellow pilots fondly though, with pictures and articles displayed throughout his kitchen.

This weekend, the celebrations will be all about Everette Bush, as he celebrates his 93rd birthday in Clifton Forge.