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January 12, 2005

Bush's National Guard Service--A Summary

Patrick Sullivan, in a comment at Kevin Drum's weblog, has a nice summary of George W. Bush's military career. I don't know if it's all correct, but it seems reasonable.
In a nutshell, here's the military career of George W. Bush:

1. Over Christmas vacation 1967, Yale senior Bush decides he wants to fulfill his military obligation by becoming a fighter pilot (emulating his WWII bomber pilot father).

He discovers that his hometown ANG unit has openings for fighter pilots. He introduces himself to the appropriate recruiter, Cliff Staudt. Who must have had the recruiter equivalent of a wet dream when a Yalie, physically fit, with a WWII pilot father, who also happens to be the area's congressman walks in and asks about signing up. There are Texas ANG pilots from this group flying in Vietnam at the time.

2. Bush passes his tests about the same time as the North Koreans seize the Pueblo, and the North Vietnames and Viet Cong launch the Tet Offensive. 14,000 Americans die in Vietnam that year. He is accepted in May, just before he graduates. He serves a few months as an enlisted man in Texas while he awaits a slot in Georgia for flight training.

3. He graduates in the top half of his flight class, and is sent to Ellington AFB for his F-102 training in late '69. After he is qualified on the F-102 in 1970 he, along with three other pilots, volunteers to fly in Vietnam. Two of those are accepted, Bush and Fred Bradley, having fewer cockpit hours are not.

4. Bush flies with distinction--according to his annual fitness reports--through April 1972. When--with the Vietnamization of the war well along and pilots fighting for cockpit time in the states--he decides to get on with his life. He takes a job with a Senatorial campaign in Alabama, meaning he has given up flying. He gets the permission of his superior officers to do this.

5. He works in Alabama through November, and his candidate loses to a Democrat. He serves week-end duties at the AFB base in Alabama-with several eye witnesses remembering him being there.

6. January 1973; the Vietnam war officially ends, and our POWs return home. Spring and Summer of 1973 he resumes duties in Houston, building up enough points for the entire year by July (iirc). Applies for a routine out 'early out' to go to Harvard Business School. 'Early out' granted, and Bush is discharged-- HONORABLY--on October 1, 1973.

End of story. Perfectly normal career. No political influence needed, as it mirrors the experiences of thousands of other men whose fathers were carpenters or bus drivers.

Posted by erasmuse at January 12, 2005 10:11 AM

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