The George W. Bush Military Record
by Jesse Brown
Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs
George W. Bush did not fulfill the military obligations that he committed himself to as a 21 year old in 1968. This happened because he quit flying in 1972 as a 25 year old with over 2 years of flying commitment still required.
The public should know that there have been misstatements and exaggerations on the part of Governor Bush and his staff to attempt to cover-up this lack of fulfillment of a commitment. The public has a right to know what really happened when meeting a military obligation when one seeks the Office of President of The United States.
Al Gore volunteered and served in Vietnam meeting his obligation during the war. George W. Bush chose instead to join the Texas Air National Guard as a pilot but did not fulfill that obligation.
People may well forgive Governor Bush for what he did or did not do "in his youth." People are much less likely to be so forgiving if he is caught not telling the truth and covering up today. The press has an obligation to ask the candidate for a full explanation of his activities back then.
George W. Bush, in his official website information resume lists biographical facts which includes the following:
"Pilot, Texas Air National Guard, 1968-73"
George W. Bush, in his official biography to the National Governor's Association states:
"He was an F-102 fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968-1973"
This is not true! George W. Bush, on August 1, 1972, was suspended from flying status through verbal orders. Further, Major General Francis F. Greenlief confirmed this suspension in a letter of September 19, 1972. Lieutenant George W. Bush last flew an airplane for the United States Air National Guard in April of 1972.
He has in the past and continues to refuse to release his military records to allow the public to judge the circumstances surrounding his suspension. He further continues to cover-up the situation by representing to his fellow Governors and to the public at-large that he was a fighter pilot during 1973, when indeed he was suspended from flying a year before.
There are several other recent instances by Governor Bush and his staff of not telling the truth about his service to his country in the Air National Guard.
I. In his 1999 Autobiography, Governor Bush stated that after becoming a pilot "I flew for several years." This statement is an exaggeration. Bush flew as a pilot from November 1970 to April 1972, 17 months which does not classify as several years. In fact Bush's flying commitment was for 4 years (1970-1974) which would classify as "several years." However he chose not to accomplish his physical in 1972 and was suspended from flying by his supervisors.
II. Governor Bush stated in May 2000 that he was not able to accomplish his physical in 1972 because he was in Alabama and his doctor was in Houston. This is not true on three counts. First, Lt. Bush was not able to use his own physician for his physical. A pilot needs to accomplish his physical with a military physician. Second, being in Alabama was not a problem since there was no scarcity of flight surgeons in Montgomery, given the existence of two separate flying units in Alabama's capital - an Air Force Reserve airlift unit at Maxwell AFB, and an Air National Guard reconnaissance unit at Dannally Field. Indeed from May 1972 to September 1972 Bush was in Alabama so he certainly had time to accomplish his physical. And third, Bush returned to Houston in November and could have accomplished his physical at Ellington Air Force Base.
III. Governor Bush declared that he would have continued flying but they phased out his airplane, the F-102.
This is not true! The F-102 continued in service at Ellington Air Force Base until September 1974, after the time that Bush would have completed his full 6 year commitment. In fact, a second plane, the F-101, did not displace the F-102, but was added to the inventory of his unit. This allowed the unit to establish a second Combat Crew Training School to train F-101 air crews alongside F-102 crews.
Indeed his unit actually was placed in an alert status in 1972, meaning that more pilots were needed as of November 1972 just at the time Governor Bush should have taken his physical.
IV. On May 22, 2000, Bush campaign aide Mindy Tucker asserted that Governor Bush "fulfilled all of his requirements in the Guard. If he missed any drills, he made them up later on."
This response is geared to cover-up the fact that Bush never completed his pilot commitments. He claims he attended some non-flying drills (which are not reflected in his official military records) but these drills were not with his assigned unit and were not in conjunction with his pilot status. Indeed his official annual evaluation states "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report" May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973.
Governor Bush stresses trustworthiness and truthfulness in his campaign. Lieutenant Bush assumed public trust in his military career during wartime. The public deserves an explanation about his actions, both then and now.