The "Punk in Chief"
jcraven at clark.edu
Wed Dec 12 15:41:00 MST 2001
From: "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American
President", by J.H. Hatfield, Soft Skull Press, N.Y. 2001
"Junior lost his deferment from induction into compulsory military service.
Four years at Yale had helped him avoid the draft, but now he was suddenly
faced with the possibility that he would join the ranks of the other
half-million American youth in Vietnam, who were dying at the rate of 350 a
During the 1960s, however, many of George W's generation who joined
considered it an option to outright evasion of the draft. Overall, National
guard members had only a remote chance of ending up in Vietnam. Throughout
the war, only 15,000 of the more than 1,000,000 of the Guard and reserves
were sent to fight in the Southeast Asian country...
Speaking of himself in the third person, Bush later said, ' Yeah, I mean one
could argue that he was trying to avoid being the infantryman but my
attitude was I'm taking the first opportunity to become a pilot and jumped
on that and did my time.'..
Junior told Roland Betts, one of his classmates from Yale, that while he
wasn't particularly enthusiatic about enlisting in the Guard, he 'felt that
in order not to derail his father's political career he had to be in
military service of some kind.'..
In 1968, the national waiting list for Guard slots contained approximately
100,000 names. Although there are no records of how long the Texas waiting
lists were at the time, Retired Major General Thomas Bishop, who was the
state's adjutant general in the late 60s, stated there were lengthy waiting
lists in Texas. ' We were full', he flatly stated. In addition, Dale Pyeatt,
associate director of the National Guard Association of Texas, was quoted in
the press as stating: 'There were definately waiting lists. There wasn't any
question about that.'..
Although pilots were in demand in Vietnam, Tom Hail, a historian for the
Texas Air National guard noted that records from the era did not show a
pilot shortage in the Guard squadron. Hail, who reviewed the unit's
personnel files for a special Guard museum display on Bush's service, stated
that his unit had 27 pilots at the time he initiated his application for
enlistment. While that number was two short of its authorized strength, the
unit had two other pilots who were in training and another waiting a
transfer. Hail asserted that there was no need to fast-track applicants...
Four months before enlisting, Bush reported to Westover Air Force Base in
Massachusetts, a recruiting office near the Yale campus, to take the Air
Force Officers Qualification Test. While scoring 25 percent for pilot
aptitude on the screening test--'about as low as you could get and still be
accepted', according to Retired Colonel Rufus G. Martin, a former Guard
personnel officer--and 50 percent for navigator aptitude in his initial
enlistment test, Bush scored 95 persent in the 'officer quality' section,
compared with the current-day average of 88 percent...
His Guard application form asked for 'background qualifications of value to
the Air force.' Bush wrote 'None". Another question he had to answer was
whether he was interested in an overseas assigment. Bush checked the box
that said: 'do not volunteer...'
However Staudt [former Guard commander, Retired Brigadier General General
Walter "Buck" Staudt] did admit to the "Houston Chronicle" in 1988 that
George W's wealthy background 'indirectly' helped him qualify for one of the
hard-to-fill officer slots, noting that most young men didn't have the
financial 'flexibility that would allow them to take off for the training
the positions required.' which was typically more than a year.
Evidently Staudt was so pleased to have a Texas congressman's eldest son in
his Guard that he later staged a special ceremony so he could be
photographed administering the oath, instead of the captain who actually had
sworn Bush in. Later, when Junior was commissioned a second lieutenant by
another subordinate officer, Colonel Staudt once again staged a special
ceremony in his office for the cameras, this particular time with Bush's VIP
father flying in from Washington to pin the bars on his son...
After the senior Bush refused to take questions and his campaign chairman,
James A Baker III admitted to CNN that Quayle ' was assisted by his family '
in joining the [Indiana] Guard, George W, in an attempt at damage control,
met with the press and suggested it was enough that Quayle had not fled to
Canada as was the case with multitudes of American draft evaders. ' The
thing that's important, I want you all to remember,' Junior told reporters,
'he didn't go to Canada. Let's keep it in generational perspective.'
...[NOTE: Both Bush and Quayle were both members of organizations actively
promoting the widening of the Vietnam War and were active in those
Since the National guard is run by the state, with its adjudant general
chosen by the governor, there are any number of ways that someone could have
intervened on behalf of privileged young men like Bush or Bentsen.
'Obviously the governor, lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the house
had a lot of influence on the National Guard ', said a former personnel
officer in charge of a Texas squadron. ' And if you look at that list,
you'll see besides George W. Bush, many sons of politically prominent Texas
families who just happened to get into the Guard--regardless of the waiting
...When asked how he got into the military reserves unit, Junior jokingly
but evasively replied, ' They could sense I was going to be one of the great
pilots of all time.' ...One Vietnam veteran and delegate to the Republican
National Convention in 1988, did not see the humor in George W's response. '
While the Bush boy defending the Texas-Mexico border from bandits in his
F-102 fighter jet, I was watching my buddies get their brains blown out by
the VC (Viet Cong),' said James Johnson, a wheelchair-bound double amputee
who lost both ofh his legs in the Tet Offensive in 1968. ' As Terry Kent
Reed, a former Nam vet and author once said, 'As a nation, you should never
test your very best, while at home you leave the rest.' [Footnote: One of
Bush's rivals for the Republican nomination in 2000, Senator John McCain,
also said he slept better at night as a POW in Vietnam for five-and-a-half
years knowing that George W. was protecting the coast of Texas from
Veterans have also noted that Bush, who enlisted in May 1968 as an airman
basic, received his second lieutenant's commission only a few months later,
one of the most rapid rank ascensions in military history...An Adjudant
General's Department manual from the time listed numerous qualifications
required for commissioned officers, which for the most part, Bush lacked: a
high school education, 18 months of military service, including six months
of active duty, and completion of officer training. A separate Guard
pamphlet titled "Take Command, Apply for OCS", detailed three ways for
Guardsmen to become second lieutenants: a 23 week officer training program,
a nine-week training 'reserve component special officer candidate course,
or completion of eight weekend drill periods and two summer camps...
In addition to his special commission, the Guard gave Bush immediate and
considerable flexibility. After Basic training at Lackland Air force Base
and his commissioning as a second lieutenant, Junior received what amounted
to a two-month-plus vacation to florida before heading to Georgia for
yearlong flight school. During this time, Bush worked in the political
campaign of Edward J. Gurney, a Republican candidate for the Senate and a
close friend of the elder Bush. He occassionally returned to houston for
weekend Guard duty...
' He basically continued the partying tradition post-college ', said one
former Yale classmate. ' He graduated one day, enlisted in the National
Guard the next, went to basic training in San Antonio for a few weeks, and
then never let his foot off the accelerator of life. He flew jets, drove
fast cars, screwed more women than Hugh Hefner and partied hardy'...
George W addresses his 'reckless' years head on, but not in detail. In
response to direct questions from the media, he refuses to answer questions
about possible illegal drug use, offering instead an all-encompassing mea
culpa. ' I have made mistakes', he repeatedly stated during the presidential
race. ' I choose not to inventory my sins because I don't want anybody to be
able to say, ' Well, the governor of Texas did it, why shouldn't I?' That's
why I have been somewhat mysterious about my past...I'm not going to talk
about what I did as a child [flying F-102s]. It is irrelevant what I did 20
to 30 years ago.'
Former Yale classmates and friends who partied with George W in houston
during his stint in the National guard, filled in the blanks beyond his
vague, Clintonesque admission, saying that he occasionally smoked marijuana
and snorted cocaine.
'We all experimented back then', explained one of his many girlfriends
during that period. ' but you have to remember that George was just living
for the moment. He never dreamed or schemed of running for governor, let
alone president, so he didn't worry in the 60s and 70s about protecting his
future political viability. Poor George, it'll probably come back to haunt
him when he runs for national office.' [footnote: Ironically, a 1970
National guard news release at the time read: 'George Walker Bush is one
member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or
hashish or speed. As far as kicks are concerned, Lieutenant Bush gets his
from the roaring afterburner of the F-102.' ]
For three months in 1972, he lived in Montgomery, Alabama, after receiving a
transfer to the Alabama National Guard so that he could work as a paid
political director of the ill-fated U.S. Senate campaign of another friend
of his father, construction magnate and former Postmaster General Winton
'Red' Blount...[ pp. 37-50 Hatfield]
"Lt. Colonel William Harris Jr. was one of two commanding officers who could
not perform George W. Bush's annual evaluation covering the year from May 1,
1972 to April 30, 1973. They stated in their filing that ' Lt. Bush has not
been observed at this unit during the period of this report.' Fortunately
for George W. Bush, Lt. Col. Harris is not here to verify his 1973
statement. He is dead. Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian was another of George W.
Bush's commanding officers. He cannot testify in a court of law as to George
W. Bush's dereliction of his sworn duty. Lt. Col. Killian is dead."
["Bush Body Count http://www.blk2k.com/bushbodycount/bodies.html ]
In June 1977 he formed his own drilling company, Arbusto Energy ('arbusto'
means 'Bush' in Spanish). Like his father who made his fortune in the oil
business with the money of others, George W. founded Arbusto with the
financial backing of investors, including James R. Bath, a Houston
businessman whom bush apparently first met when they were in the same Texas
Air National Guard unit...In one of the most bizarre footnotes to history,
"Time" magazine described Bath in 1991 as 'a deal broker whose alleged
associations run from the CIA to a major shareholder and director of the
Bank of Credit and Commerce.' BCCI, as it was more commonly known, was
closed down in July 1991 amid charges of multibillion-dollar fraud and
worldwide news reports that the institution had been involved in covert
intelligence work, drug money laundering, arms brokering, bribery of
government officials and aid to terrorists. An accounting commissioned by
the Bank of england finally exposed the extent of BCCI's deficits and
criminal offenses, forcing the bank's eventual collapse...according to "The
Outlaw Bank", an award-winning 1993 book by "Time" correspondents Jonathan
Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, Bath originally ' ' made his fortune by investing
money for (Sheikh Kalid bin) Mahfouz and another BCCI-connected Saudi,
Sheikh bin Laden', allegedly the father of none other than Osama bin Laden,
the man accused by the U.S. government of masterminding the August 1998
terrorist bombings of the american embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which
killed more than 250 people...[Hatfield, pp 54-55]
In 1990, in an attempt to distance himself and his presidential father from
the growing BCCI scandal, George W stated in an interview that neither he
nor elder Bush had ever conducted business with James R. Bath. Junior went
on record at the time as saying that he met the Houston businessman in 1970,
when both were fighter pilots at the Air National guard base at Ellington.
(Interestingly Bush and Bath were suspended from flying in September 1972
for 'failure to accomplish annual medical examinations'.)...A few months
later, however, the release of tax documents and personal financial records
forced George W to admit that Bath had indeed been one of Arbusto Energy's
original investors. Bush said that to his knowledge, Bath's investment was
from personal funds, and no available evidence existed to determine that the
money came from Saudi interests. [Ibid. p. 56-57]
Bush stopped flying in April 1972, and this is the first unexplained
question. In his autobiography, "A Charge to Keep", Bush wrote that he ' was
no longer flying because the F-102 jet I had trained in was being replaced
by a different fighter.'
While it is true that the F-101B would eventually replace the F-102, in 1972
the F-101B was an addition to the 11th FIS inventory not a replacement.
Phase-out of Bush's F-102 by the 111th FIS would not be accomplished until
September 1974, more than two years after Bush stopped flying, and four
months after his Air National guard commitment was scheduled to end, meaning
Bush could have flown 'his plane' right up until the end of his six-year
The government spent a great deal of time (a full year), effort and money
(fully $1 million in current dollars) to train Lt. Bush to fly, but he
stopped flying two full years before he was scheduled to leave the Guard.
First lieutenants do not get to decide for themselves that they are going to
stop flying. Therefore, someone had to decide that Bush would stop flying,
and for a specific reason...As a pilot, Bush was required to take a yearly
medical exam. His military records show the date of his last physical as May
1971; therefore he was due to take another in May 1972. Before leaving Texas
for alabama he should have taken his physical, but didn't. Bush never took
another flight physical, prompting a written order suspending him from
flight status. Why did he apparently never again take the flight physical
required of all pilots?
Bush aides/spokespersons attributed this failure variously to his being in
Montgomery, Alabama, while his personal physician was in Houston; and
because ' there were only a few special doctors who could do physicals'
(Karen Hughes, cited in an LA Times article...In fact, Bush's personal
physician couldn't perform a flight physical because only flight surgeons
can do that. And there was no scarcity of flight surgeons in Montgomery,
because the Alabama capital had two separate flying units... [Hatfield pp.
In November 1972, after the Senate election in alabama, George Bush returned
to Houston. This was the month after the 111th resumed alert--just when that
unit would have needed all the pilots it could muster. But Lt. Bush had
given up flying in April, and did not resume flying upon his return to
Texas. In fact, in a situation analogous to his stay in Alabama, despite
claims by Bush and his aides to the contrary, he apparently did not do any
Guard drilling of any kind upon returning to Texas, a fact borne out by a
lack of written records or witnesses... [Ibid. p. 389]
Almost 2.5 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War, of whom
153,300 were wounded and 58,209 killed...During the conflict--1964 to
1973--more than 26 million young men faced the possibility of being drafted
and hard choices about whether to participate in the U.S. military. An
estimated 90,000 refused induction into the service or fled the draft by
moving to Canada and other countries. Thousands of others, like Bush, opted
to continue their personal lives and reduce the risk of seeing combat by
joining the armed forces reserves and the National guard. [Ibid. p. 43]
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