Bill L. Burkett LTC (ret) writes, "I have reviewed the assumptions that Lukasiak had to use through the first 63 months of Bush's career - before Bush just quit and was transferred to an obvious records hold - and believe that his conclusions are correct... Was 1LT George W. Bush AWOL? The use of terms such as Deserter or AWOL have often been used as the focus of debate rather than the actions and inactions of 1LT Bush, to the discredit of the actual events and their impact. Documentation has refuted all claims that 1LT Bush continued to meet either the published regulations requirements for satisfactory drill participation, or the orders of his commander LTC Jerry Killian who later within the Officer Evaluation process notes that 1LT Bush was not available or seen during that rating period - a period of twelve months. Failure to appear as ordered is certainly considered as Absent without Leave."
Lukasiak Study Proves Bush Was Legally AWOL
Bill L. Burkett LTC (ret)
Air National Guard Commanding Officer
Re: "Deserter: The Story Of George W. Bush After He Quit The Texas Air National Guard" by Paul Lukasiak
I have reviewed the assumptions that Lukasiak had to use through the first 63 months of Bush's career - before Bush just quit and was transferred to an obvious records hold - and believe that his conclusions are correct.
I am still reviewing to make sure that the discipline of use of regulations (Title 10 of US Code versus Title 32 of US Code) was fully in line in every detail. The point of this discipline and its absolute requirement is that sometimes Title 10 regulations apply for active duty only and there are separate regs for the same subject under Title 32. Title 32 regulations would have been applied to 1LT Bush at any point throughout his career except while he was on active duty for a period longer than 30 days - which in this case primarily speaks of his flight training school.
This is an easy mistake to make either with or without malice.
The analysis of months 63-72 is going to largely be speculative at best. But there are numerous excellent points made within his findings that indicate that without a doubt there was complicity from individuals and possibly commanders or staff at Camp Mabry to provide a cover; or more for 1LT Bush. I have noticed the rationale applied by Al Lloyd within his interviews has been that Bush just got tired of coming to drill and just quit. That may be true from the perspective of 1LT Bush. However, it does not explain the reasons for inactivity and failure to do what was right under the law and regulations by his superiors including the Adjutant General of Texas.
So let me answer the appropriate questions directly:
1. Lukasiak's work properly applies the uniform regulations of the Department of the Air Force and the national Guard Bureau to establish and conduct a detailed analysis of the service records of 1LT Bush.
2. Lukasiak properly applies a progressive records review that is developed from a detailed review of 1LT Bush's records. Within this foundation, he has properly developed a method to understand clearly the detailed methodology applied by the Texas Air National Guard within its proper recording, and found that for the first four years of a six year contract commitment, 1LT Bush performed to official standards; and that the Texas Air National Guard applied all normal standards to document satisfactory service.
3. Irregularities are first noticed within year five of 1LT Bush's records and are correctly detailed within Lukasiak's work. He correctly notes that during a five month period, directly correlating to a period in which the administrative file indicates that 1LT Bush had requested to first attend drill in Alabama [which was denied due to incompatible occupational code]; later to have requested a transfer to Alabama [which was never effected by records of the file]; and later completed no training at all. A later period of almost back-to-back drills as recorded both within drill performance certificates and payroll records were exactly calculated to meet the absolute minimum number of "retirement points" required rather than to meet the absolute minimum of training required for satisfactory drill participation. This certainly was not a coincidence, but rather indicates either a calculated effort on behalf of 1LT Bush or a scheme that included others. There are other questionable inconsistencies noted by Lukasiak.
After reviewing the work, I believe that the minimum and now fully documented findings are:
1. 1LT George W. Bush, the Texas Air National Guard and the Department of the Air Force fully concur through submitted documentation that:
a. 1LT Bush met all minimum standards of performance; including both inactive duty for training and active duty years 1-4 of his six year contract commitment.
b. 1LT Bush failed to meet the minimum satisfactory drill participation requirements of 48 single unit training assemblies (SUTA) inactive duty and 15 days of annual training per training year, with the year beginning in the month of the airman's birth. 1LT Bush in fact, completely failed to train as ordered for a five consecutive month period in Year five of his contract commitment and therefore was 20 SUTA's short of his minimum satisfactory training contract for said year. Claims by campaign officials have not been substantiated by 1LT Bush, the Texas Air National Guard or the Department of the Air Force or by official and complete records provided through a privacy release by the airman. Further there has been no record presented of any effort by the airman to have his records corrected with documentation provided by an alternate source such as tax returns or other documentation through the records correction process; notably the Air Force Board for the Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR).
c. 1LT Bush also failed to meet the minimum satisfactory training requirements of his contract during year six of his contract; without documentation of any sort, completely ceasing showing up for drills or active duty with the Texas Air National Guard as ordered. After month 62 of his 72 month contract, 1LT Bush was placed in a records hold awaiting discharge, a process not accorded to other soldiers or airmen under a time of War or pursuant to the regulations as cited within the study of Lukasiak.
Was 1LT George W. Bush AWOL? The use of terms such as Deserter or AWOL have often been used as the focus of debate rather than the actions and inactions of 1LT Bush, to the discredit of the actual events and their impact. Documentation has refuted all claims that 1LT Bush continued to meet either the published regulations requirements for satisfactory drill participation, or the orders of his commander LTC Jerry Killian who later within the Officer Evaluation process notes that 1LT Bush was not available or seen during that rating period - a period of twelve months. Failure to appear as ordered is certainly considered as Absent without Leave.
It would be interesting to see the actual morning reports for the unit which have been destroyed and see how the training NCOs carried Bush for pay. The only options are Absent, Absent excused, Absent Leave, Absent without leave, split training, or present. Since we have determined that he was not present for training or pay, we are all guessing about his status until we see that he had requested a transfer, then a split training certificate. This is purely speculation on my part, but I believe he may have initially been carried as Absent excused (which does not relieve him of his contract training responsibility) on the morning report while the unit was under the impression that he was trying to get a transfer.
I am sure that after that status changed through both inaction and confusion by the lieutenant, that the status was changed for a couple of months to split training authorized. But in both cases, and especially in split training status, an airman or lieutenant clearly understood that he was ordered to make contact with the receiving unit, conduct training as ordered and insure that such training was documented with a split training certificate. Further, whenever 1LT Bush reported in to the receiving unit, he would have been noted on the morning report as "split training" and the associated copy of the training certificate signed by the receiving unit commander would be forwarded for pay purposes.
Having been a commander, it seems totally impossible that if 1LT Bush met any of these requirements or showed any effort whatsoever, that LTC Jerry Killian would have made his now famous remarks on the Officer Efficiency Report. To answer the question unequivocally, was 1LT Bush AWOL? In exacting terms, the answer is yes. 1LT Bush was not present for duty as ordered, he was therefore absent without leave (AWOL).
I have found no documentation from LTC Killian's hand or staff that indicate that this unit was involved in any complicit way to either cover for the failures of 1LT Bush, or to provide him pay or certification for training not completed. On the contrary, LTC Killians' remarks are rare, indeed, especially considering that 1LT Bush was known clearly as a congressman's son and had utilized his position as such, to gain a favor of his failure to train while in Alabama. I have to believe that earning that favor was completed by false pretenses also due to LTC Killian's officer evaluation comment.
Documentation of complicitous activity may have surfaced within the flurry of drill training activity following the Alabama period. The exact and irrefutable evidence of such is not convincing, yet to me based upon a review of the same records, though there are serious changes within the methodology employed both at the unit and at State headquarters for 1LT Bush. It could be argued that this could have occurred by a wake up call at all levels sounded by LTC Killians comments and the justifications he would have been required at higher levels of command to make such comments.
This is my preliminary comments. I hope to have more detail within my verification of the files especially on all months past month 56.