Proposal to honor Portage war hero 25 years after his death

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PORTAGE (WKOW) — It was 1993 when U.S. Army Ranger SSG Daniel D. Busch was planning to return to his hometown of Portage Wisconsin after serving overseas to see his newborn baby and his wife, but his trip home was cut short.  At the age of 25, Busch fought and died in Somalia during the operation many know from the Acadamy Award winning movie “Black Hawk Down.”

Busch was an Army Ranger and member of the U.S. Special Operations Delta Force who fought in Mogadishu, Somalia during Operation Gothic Serpent, when his helicopter was shot down by enemy fire. Busch continued to fight providing fire to protect his team, but moments later received a fatal gunshot wound on October 3, 1993. Now, 25 years later his heroism will be honored in a different way.

State Representative Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) introduced legislation this week to designate a portion of State Highway 33 the “Staff Sergeant (SSG) Daniel D. Busch Memorial Highway.” Busch was a constituent of the 81st District who gave his life in service to his country.

SSG Busch left behind his young wife, Traci, and his infant child, Mitchell.

“He was all for God, country, and family,” said Traci Winius, Busch’s widow.

Busch enlisted in the Army at 18 and quickly shot up in rank. He became the youngest person enlisted — at the time — to qualify as a member of Delta Force and the youngest to become a Sniper.

“He was persistent and never gave up and wanted to do what’s best always for everyone and want to be on top,” said Winius.

Busch’s mother, Ginny Johnson said her son had plans to come home and was applying for law enforcement jobs.

“Not a day goes by without thinking about him,” said Johnson.

Johnson remembers the last time she saw her son’s face, a memory still so vivid of them fishing in Baraboo. It was a moment which Johnson will never forget, hearing her son sound uneasy.

“He talked to me and said, ‘Mom, I don’t think I’m coming home,’ and I said, ‘yes you will Dan. I have faith,’” she said.

Her faith is still strong today, but when looking back to the day he was killed in battle is heartbreaking no matter how many days go by. Busch met his newborn son Mitchell briefly when he was born. Mitchell, now 25-years-old, still learns every day about who his father was.

“Growing up I always got to hear stories about him so that’s how I got to know who my father was,” said Mitchell. “It’s always in the back of your head, ‘what if he was still alive, how would things be different.'”

Those who served with Busch are also remembering his heroic actions. Jim Smith was with Busch when their helicopter was shot down. Smith helped Busch get to a medical tent where he took his last breath.

Without his fast actions we would have all been surely killed,” said Smith. “I did all I could do to protect Dan and safeguard his life. A great man was lost that day.”

Others who knew Busch said he was a loving family man who was dedicated to his job. Before being sent to Somalia, Thomas Satterly was a fellow teammate of Busch. Satterly said his commitment and energy to service was “unmatched.”

Dan was as selfless and humble as a soldier comes, disciplined and dedicated to his country, devoted to his family and his brothers in the Unit where he served and sacrificed his life,” said Satterly.

The Army posthumously awarded Busch the Silver Star and a Purple Heart. Fast forward to today with help from family and friends, they hope to see a plaque in his honor on HWY 33 between Portage and Baraboo.

No state funds will be used to for the highway designation. Private contributions will help raise money for the project. Busch’s friends and family made a Gofundme page to raise funds for the plaque.

The bill (LRB 0725) has bipartisan support.

Emilee Fannon

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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