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Bush Pledged to Serve in Guard, Then Failed
to Show Up

On departing the Texas Air National Guard for Cambridge, Massachusetts, to attend the Harvard Business School, George W. Bush signed a document that said:

"It is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit...If I fail to do so I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months."

He had eight months to go to fulfill his service obligation. The Boston Globe, which uncovered this pledge, reported on the same day of September 2004 as Dan Rather's "60 Minutes II" exposé (adjacent story) that Bush then never signed up with a Boston-area unit. But the media chased after the claim of forgeries and fraud rather than the substance of Bush's service record. The Globe's efforts were eclipsed.

The pledge was standard issue for guardsmen. In return for permission to relocate, guard members pledged to find and join a unit there and continue service.

The Globe was at the forefront in shredding claims by President Bush that he fulfilled his service obligation. In addition to the article published concurrent with the "60 Minutes" program, the newspaper had placed online a dozen articles from its ongoing investigation going back to May 2000. Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, had told The Washington Post in a 1999 interview that George W. Bush had joined a Boston area Air Force Reserve unit to complete the eight months remaining in his six-year contract with the U.S. military. Confronted with its findings, The Globe quotes Bartlett as saying, "I must have misspoke".

The Globe's probe into Bush's disappearances during a 6-year requirement followed a month in which the media was entirely distracted by a smear campaign against Kerry's service record. Squabbling over whether or not Kerry should have gotten Purple Hearts, versus documents attesting to Kerry's brave and honorable service, the media had managed to completely ignore the George W. Bush cover-up of his own service. To Bartlett, the Globe and "60 Minutes" reporting was just "dirty politics" 55 days before the election, whereas the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth takedowns of John Kerry 80 days before the election were apparently just good, clean fun.

Bush’s Years of Living Dangerously

In a February 8th interview in 2004 on NBC's "Meet the Press", George Bush told Tim Russert, "I served in the National Guard, flew F102 aircraft, got an honorable discharge, put in my time, proudly so." But had he – fully – put in his time? There are questions about whether he served at all during the last two years of his six-year commitment.

The Pentagon refused to release his complete service record which left the media to ferret out pieces of the missing puzzle. Apart from the failure to report in the Boston-Cambridge area, there was the Alabama question.

During his 6-year service commitment span, Bush went in May 1972 to Alabama to work on a political campaign of interest to his dad. Just as required in his transfer to Cambridge, he would have needed to sign up with Alabama's guard while away from Texas. Neither The Boston Globe nor the Associated Press could come up with any evidence that Bush reported for duty in Alabama that summer and fall. "To my knowledge, he never showed up," then-base commander, Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, told The Globe "If we had had a first lieutenant from Texas, I would have remembered.'"

Neither his administrative officer at the time, Kenneth Lott, nor the then-squadron operations officer of the Alabama Guard have any recollection
of having seen Bush, according to The New Republic. In fact, no one who served at the Alabama unit remembers a George W. Bush at all. Neither do his attendance records for 1972 remember him — the numbers down the right column of the insert at left are points earned by attending each weekend session — 4 points per weekend — and they show zero for Bush from May through September. Perhaps more to the point, he could not have attended sessions in Alabama those five months without having been officially transferred — the military is punctilious about such matters — and his transfer from the the Texas Guard to an Alabama squadron was not approved until September 1972. That raises the question of whether Bush simply left in May for Alabama without clearance from the Texas unit and that his absence was simply papered over months later.

Federal law stipulated that a Guard officer miss no more than 10% of training sessions in a fiscal year, and absences beyond that could not be carried forward or backward to other years. Air Force policy required that a missed session be made up within a span of 15 days before a planned absence to 30 days after. A Guardsman in violation of these limits was subject to various punitive measures, chief among them a transfer to active duty for up to 24 months. These rules were adhered to with added stringency for pilots, owing to the high taxpayer cost of their training.

Failure to report outside these limits was classified as absence without leave (AWOL), and Bush failed to report for a five-month stretch beginning in May 1972. White House insistence that these missed sessions were made up at later dates would have violated the 15- and 30-day limit cited above. In any case, no subsequent attendance records support the White House claim.

In that "Meet the Press" interview, Bush said, "There may be no evidence but I did report. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been honorably discharged". First, the military keeps meticulous daily records of the whereabouts of everyone (this writer typed such "morning reports" around that time). Second, dishonorable discharges are so damaging to one’s future that honorable discharges are routinely given and are no proof of continuous service. On that, the White House sought to mislead an unknowing public; one needed to almost commit murder to earn a dishonorable.

More Regulations Violated

In the first half of 1973, according to attendance records below, Bush was twice allowed to cram three weekends into a single month — in advance of the two months following January and July, when he would not attend at all. This was in violation of the 15- and 30-day regulation if, indeed, he attended at all. The Boston Globe reported that nobody connected with the Texas unit recalls seeing Bush during these cram sessions, leading to suspicions that Bush was given credits for active duty he did not perform. That looks to be the case from the following:

George W Bush asked to be discharged from the Texas Guard to attend the Harvard Business School in a letter dated Sep. 5, 1973. That resulted in his transfer from the protective cocoon of the Texas Guard to the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, the national headquarters that had no interest in coddling Texas' favorite sons.

ARPC had already demanded of Texas on June 29 that, "ratings must be entered on this officer", for whom neither mandatory evaluations nor medical exams were on record for over a year. The Texas unit had on 3 May 1973 written in an Officer Effectiveness Report that, "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit", that he had "cleared this base on 15 May 1972".
Yet simultaneous with these documents, as well as for months before and after, the Texas unit was awarding Lt. Bush attendance credits — the "12"s and "4"s seen at left. Texas would finally report to ARPC that George W Bush was "not rated for the period 1 May 72 through 30 Apr 73".

Was Bush a Deserter?

Once ARPC in Denver conducted its standard performance review and discovered that the Texas Guard could not account for Bush’s whereabouts for an entire year,and that Bush’s ratings and medical records were not up to date, it could not rate him, as shown below, and could only classify him as a "non-locatee",
its euphemism for deserter. This was reinforced by the Center's many attempts during the remaining nine months of his obligation to find George W. Bush through written communications to a number of addresses. Bush never filed an address with Denver; Denver did not know where he was.

This led to ARPC transferring Bush to “Inactive” status as a “non-locatee” around Jan. 30, 1974, an action that would transfer him to his local draft board in Houston for induction into active service. That, of course, never happened. More than anyone, researcher Paul Lukasiak doggedly pursued the issue.of Bush's military service. He concluded,

"If, as the record indicates, 'strings were pulled' after the Houston draft board found out about Bush’s situation, it would behoove the string-pullers to involve as few people as possible in 'cleaning up' Bush’s records. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the last three documents found in the Bush files have one name, and one name only, associated with them,"

That one name was a Capt. Kostelny, who, interestingly, signed none of them.

None of Our Business

Bush answered "Yeah" when Tim Russert asked in the Feb. 8 "Meet the Press" interview if he would allow to be released "pay stubs, tax records, anything to show that you were serving during that period". The White House then quickly released a sheaf of documents (including Bush's Yale transcript with the grades blacked out) that included military records that entirely skirted the controversial 1972-73 period.

In early July, in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from numerous newsgathering organizations, the Defense Department announced that microfilmed payroll records in Denver covering Bush’s disputed service period had been inadvertently destroyed. There had been no mention of this alleged mishap when the White House released its dossier in February after the Russert interview, even though payroll records for the period were conspicuously missing. Defense then deflected any further questions, saying they would require a new FOIA application.

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