Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Bush the Draft-Dodger?
It really bothers me that a coward like George W. Bush spent the Vietnam War training to fly old and useless planes in Texas while John Kerry was heroically risking his life in combat and got three purple hearts!
- Jennifer Braun
Yesterday I stuck up for John Kerry military record, so today it's time to take a look at George W. Bush's service history.
I've been bothered by disparaging comments on Bush's military record like the one above, frankly, because there was a certain aspect of familiarity and truth to them.
Let's go back to February 1971. There I was with a draft number of 77 and ready to lose my student deferment that spring upon graduating from Stevens Tech. I asked my friend Al (draft number 69) what he was doing, and he replied, "... joining the Army Reserve unit in Jersey City." Well, in 1971, that seemed like a much better idea than being drafted, so I tagged along with Al, passed the physical, and trudged down to a run-down reserve center at Caven Point to swear to "... serve and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies..." as a Private E1, United States Army Reserve.
By 1971, it looked like there was little chance of sending Army reservists to Vietnam, so yes, you might say it was my legal way of avoiding the draft.
And yes, it worked. I never was even remotely in danger of being sent to Vietnam. In fact, as a "Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic," the most dangerous assignment I ever had was as assistant deputy firewatch guy at Indiantown Gap, PA during summer training the weekend of the Bicentenial.
But what about George W.? Did he really skate out of danger and duty as easily as I did, or is there more to it?
After all, strapping on a F-102 Delta Dagger interceptor is a little more unhealthy than me buckling up in my 1973 Chevy Nova. And 1968, when W enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard, was far different, Vietnam-wise, far worse, that is, than 1971.
So last night, just out of curiosity, I Googled on the non-phrase, "F-102 safety", and found this very interesting article, F-102, Vietnam & George W. Bush .
You should read it in it's entirety - it's not very long. But the crux of this non-political article can be summarized by this paragraph near the end:
Bush has been criticized for avoiding service in Vietnam, though the evidence proves that the Texas Air National Guard and its F-102 pilots were serving in Vietnam while Bush was in training. Bush has been criticized for using his family influence to obtain his assignment, but the evidence shows that he successfully completed every aspect of the more than two years of training required of him. Bush has been criticized for pursuing a safe and plush position as a fighter pilot, but the evidence indicates the F-102 was a demanding aircraft that claimed the lives of many of its pilots even on routine missions. Bush has also been criticized for deserting the Guard before his enlistment was complete, but the evidence shows he was honorably discharged eight months early because his position was being phased out.
Well, I think that's good enough for me. My conclusion is that like John Kerry, George W. Bush also served honorably, did more than what was required of him, and even exposed himself to a degree of risk during the Vietnam period.
Now Mother Jones, www.awolbush.com, and others in the kum-ba-yah crowd may still have their axes to grind, but I'm satisfied. Let's drop this whole military service thing and finally get to discussing policy and real issues
"I've been to war. I've raised twins. If I
had a choice, I'd rather go to war."
- George W. Bush, Houston Chronicle, January 2002
Links to this post: