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liveoaktx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-25-04 10:42 PM
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Bush's Payroll Records show this article from 2002 is still true

While Americans were dying in Vietnam and demonstrating in America, our hawkish President did neither. He went AWOL!
By Frederick Sweet

Amid a constant beating of the war drums at The White House, President George W. Bush has been urging everyone to join him in a regime changing invasion of Iraq to eliminate Saddam Hussein. Americans are still waiting for Bush to make a convincing case while he questions everyone's patriotism who hesitates to pick up a weapon and head to the Middle East just because he says so.

This Commander-in-chief talks tough as he plans to send other people's children off to fight in a bloody war with Iraq. But what was Bush's military deportment in uniform at the height of the war in Vietnam?

Lt. George W. Bush's October 1, 1973 discharge papers from the Texas Air National Guard reveal that, although under the Guard rules he had originally signed up for six years of service obligation, this fighter jet pilot had only "completed 5 years, 4 months, and 5 days toward this obligation." Signed by his commanding officer Major Rufus Martin, Bush's discharge papers also note that at the time of his discharge he was "not available for signature."

Twenty-seven years later, in a Boston Globe interview with Medal of Honor winner, Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska), he expressed disgust at the newspaper's findings that George W. Bush had sidestepped National Guard duty for several months between 1972 and 1973. Bush was safely tucked away in Texas, and Kerrey had been fighting in Vietnam. A riled up Kerrey said this lapse amounts to Bush being AWOL -- absent without leave.

''It upsets me,'' Kerrey said in the interview, ''when someone says, `Vote for me, I was in the military,' when in fact he got into the military in order to avoid serving in the military, to avoid service that might have taken him into the war. And then he didn't even show up for duty.''

Today, National Guard soldiers could be sent to Iraq if Congress authorizes Bush's war. They say goodbye to their families and turn their lives upside down when they are sent overseas. Yet, when Bush made his six-year commitment to the Guard, he knew that he'd never be shipped overseas to fight in Vietnam. But that wasn't good enough for George W. Bush. The records show that between June 1972 and October 1973 he didn't even bother to show up for Guard duty in Texas or Alabama. At best he was AWOL.

Bush enters the Texas National Guard

Immediately upon graduating from Yale University in May 1968, Bush applied to the Texas Air National Guard. This move was common among draft-aged men from well to do families. Remember Dan Quayle? He joined the Indiana National Guard during the war in Vietnam Nam.

In 1968, some 350 Americans were being killed in battle each week in Vietnam. To avoid getting shipped overseas to fight in the Vietnam War, Bush joined the Guard and stayed home. In spite of the fact that vying for entry into the Guard were 500 people ahead of him, Bush was accepted the same day that he applied. Although scoring a bare minimum 25 percent on one of his entrance exams, he had been chosen over several hundred others who tried to get into the Texas Guard. How was this possible?

The former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives had testified under oath that he was contacted by a Houston businessman, Sid Adger, and "asked to recommend George W. Bush for a pilot position with the Air National Guard," and that the Speaker called General James Rose and "did so."

This testimony came out of a lawsuit alleging that the State of Texas had allowed GTech to keep its lucrative lottery contract in exchange for former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes' silence about helping Bush get into the Texas Air National Guard.

During some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War, Lt. Bush took a leave of absence from the Guard to work on Edward Gurney's Florida senatorial campaign. He had also taken time off from the Guard in 1970 to work on his dad's congressional campaign. But from May to November 1972, Bush Jr. went to Alabama to work on a U.S. Senate campaign for the Republican Party. This is when he deserted the National Guard.

Bush grounded, AWOL in Alabama

In April 1972, Bush made his last flight for the Texas Air National Guard before moving to Alabama for the Senate campaign. Col. Rufus G. Martin, the personnel officer in charge of Bush's 147th Fighter Group in Texas, promised him a light load in Alabama by suggesting that he apply for a transfer to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base near Montgomery. But in 1970 Bush had been trained as a fighter pilot and the 9921st had no F-102 fighter-interceptors for him to fly.

On May 24, 1972, Bush adopted Martin's suggestion and formally applied for a transfer to do his equivalent training at the 9921st Squadron in Montgomery. According to a November 2000 investigative report by The Boston Globe, when Bush filled out his application on May 24th this was well after he had already moved from Texas to Alabama. Oddly, on his transfer request Bush noted that he was seeking a "no pay" position with the 9921st. Two days later, the commanding officer at the Montgomery unit, Lieutenant Colonel Reese R. Bricken, accepted Bush's request for temporary duty under his command.

Back in Houston, Bush's superiors rubber stamped approval of Bush's transfer to the 9921st in Montgomery. But a higher authority, the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado, disapproved of the transfer, noting that Bricken's unit didn't have regular drills or any aircraft for Bush to fly. He was a pilot that had undergone lengthy and expensive training costing the Pentagon and American taxpayers millions of dollars. It made no sense to send a pilot to a base that didn't have aircraft. His transfer request was rejected.

''We met just one week night a month. We were only a postal unit. We had no airplanes. We had no pilots. We had no nothing,'' Bricken explained during his interview with The Boston Globe in 2000.

Rejecting Bush's transfer request, the Director of Personnel Resources at the Denver headquarters noted that he had a "Military Service Obligation until 26 May 1974." As an "obligated reservist," Bush was ineligible to serve his time in what amounted to a paper unit with few responsibilities.

Bush wound up in a kind of military administrative limbo from May until September 5, 1972. Any other, politically unconnected, junior officer would have promptly returned to his home base in Texas in May, but not Lt. George W. Bush. He didn't even bother to reapply for a transfer to an Alabama Guard unit until September. This time, it was for another non flying role with the 187th Air National Guard Tactical Reconnaissance Group at Dannelly Air Force Base near Montgomery, Alabama.

Many months before Bush submitted his September 5th transfer application from Alabama, the Texas Air National Guard must have reminded him to take his mandatory annual physical examination by July 26, 1972, his 26th birthday. He was required to take his physical for continuing his pilot status but he chose not to show up for it. Bush had been trained to fly F-102 fighter-interceptors, yet none of the Alabama Air National Guard units had those airplanes. Apparently, he had concluded by May 24th that his move to Alabama would make the mandatory physical exam "unnecessary." But there may have been other reasons.

Quite a few Bush critics have speculated that he feared undergoing the physical exam for pilots because the Air Force conducted blood tests for substance abuse. By 1972, such tests were being carried out for alcohol and narcotics. In later years, Bush admitted to alcohol abuse but denied snorting cocaine.

On Aug. 1, 1972, Bush's commander in Houston, Col. Bobby W. Hodges, ordered him grounded for "failure to accomplish annual medical examination." His critics claim this should have triggered a formal board of inquiry. But Hodges said in a recent interview that this was unnecessary because Bush accepted the penalty and knew "he couldn't fly again until he takes a physical."

In Bush's September 5th request, he asked permission to transfer his duties for September, October, and November 1972 to the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery, Alabama. Permission for his transfer was granted, and he was ordered to report to Lieutenant Colonel William Turnipseed on "7-8 October 0730-1600, and 4-5 November 0730-1600." But he never showed up. Neither General Turnipseed nor his administrative officer at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Lott, had any recollection of Bush ever having reported to them, they said during their November 2000 interviews with The Boston Globe.

''Had he reported in, I would have had some recall, and I do not,'' Turnipseed had commented to the Globe. ''I had been in Texas, done my flight training there. If we had had a first lieutenant from Texas, I would have remembered .''

Thus Turnipseed and his former administration officer Lott both confirmed that Bush did not report to the Tactical Recon Group as he had been directed in his transfer orders.

Bush AWOL in Texas

During 1972 and 1973, many draft eligible young men either went to prison or defected to Canada to avoid combat in Vietnam. That year, after electioneering in Alabama while AWOL from the National Guard, Bush returned home to Texas. But he didn't bother showing up for his Guard duties at the Texas Guard either. Seven months went by until Bush's superior officers at Ellington Air Force Base in Texas had to acknowledge that Bush had been missing from duty. Major Rufus Martin was unable to complete his annual evaluation for Bush covering the year from May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973.

In Bush's annual evaluation report for the twelve month period from May 1972 through the end of April 1973, of the two supervising officers at his Texas unit, Lieutenant Colonel William D. Harris Jr. wrote, "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report." Harris noted in the comments section of the evaluation that Bush had "cleared this base on 15 May 1972, and has been performing equivalent training in a non flying role with the 187th Tac Recon Gp at Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama."

Bush's second supervising officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian had written in his annual evaluation report, "I concur with the comments of the reporting official."

"Where Were You Governor Bush?"

In 1995, the Air National Guard unit in Houston honored governor Bush for flying an F-102 fighter-interceptor during the Vietnam War years until his discharge in October 1973. Then in 1999, in his autobiography A Charge to Keep, Bush recounts the thrill of his pilot training in 1970. He writes, ''I continued flying with my unit for the next several years.'' But after being certified as a fighter pilot in July 1970, he could not have been flying for "several years," especially after July 26, 1972. He had been grounded for failing to take his physical exam and he was continuously on the ground in Alabama during several months, campaigning for the GOP. In the final 18 months of his military service, between 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all. His grounding had never been rescinded.

On Friday, November 3, 2000, two reporters, George Lardner Jr. and Howard Kurtz, described in their Washington Post article a conference call among two Congressional Medal of Honor winners, Democratic Senators Bob Kerrey (Neb.) and Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), and then presidential candidate George W. Bush. They had been speaking by phone to a veterans rally in Nashville led by Senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.), a decorated Vietnam veteran, and the reporters were invited to listen in to conference call.

"Where were you, Governor Bush?" Inouye asked. "What about your commitment? What would you do as Commander-in-Chief if someone in the Guard or service did the same thing ?" Kerrey questioned Bush on how he had immediately gotten into the Guard "even though there were 500 people ahead of him" at a time when "350 Americans were dying every single week in Vietnam."

In 2000, Bushs presidential campaign aides claimed that a report in The New York Times confirmed Bush had in fact served a single day -- November 29,1972 -- with the Alabama unit. If this is true then it means that for a period of six weeks beginning in the first week of October in 1972, Lieutenant Bush ignored direct orders from his headquarters to report for duty. But as indicated above, both Gen. Turnipseed and Lt. Lott stated that Lt. Bush had never reported for duty to the Alabama Air National Guard. At best Bush had been AWOL. At worst, he had been a deserter during the Vietnam War.

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