« Beldar backs Bainbridge: Rathergate not a good candidate for a shareholder lawsuit against CBS | Main | Last links of the night »

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Did Dubya fly with the United States Air Force?

Okay, last post tonight — and I have no idea who else in the blogosphere has written or is writing on this subject.  Indeed, my whole premise could be flawed, because I'm relying on the colorful — and oftentimes less than perfectly reliable — Matt Drudge for it:

Faster than a CBS eye can blink, dogged Dems are set to take to the airwaves anew hoping to keep questions about President Bush's National Guard duty in play, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned....

"George W. Bush's campaign literature claimed that he 'served in the U.S. Air Force.' The only problem? He didn't,"  slams a new DNC press release set for distribution.

Dems will attempt to increase the heat on Bush ahead of his planned Tuesday address before The National Guard Association gathering in Las Vegas....

The coordinated nationwide effort this week by the DNC has been code-named "Operation Fortunate Son."

"George Bush has a clear pattern of lying about his military service," DNC Communications Director Jano Cabrera blasts in the new release. "From 1978 to the present day, George Bush has refused to tell voters the truth about his service. It's time for the President to come clean."

"Flyers distributed to Texas voters during Bush's failed Congressional race say 'he served in the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard.' But according to Air Force officials, Air National Guardsmen are not counted as members of the active-duty Air Force."

I haven't seen the flyers, although someone's told me they're an advertisement from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, from which I'd guess they go back to Bush's first foray into politics as a candidate, his unsuccessful 1978 run for Congress in that district.  (It included then not only Lubbock, by the way, and Bush's hometown of Midland, but also my hometown, Lamesa, which is midway between the two.)

It sounds like the Dems may think they've caught Dubya having a Tom Harkin/Al Hubbard kind of moment.  And if indeed the campaign materials in fact say that Bush "served in" the Air Force, that would be technically inaccurate, as I understand it.  But if they say he "trained with the U.S. Air Force," or "flew in U.S. Air Force jets," or "signed up to fly with the U.S. Air Force," any of those three statements would be perfectly accurate — and again, very old news

From Pete Slover's and George Kuempel's marvellous article dated July 4, 1999, in the Dallas Morning News (.pdf downloaded from Lexis/Nexis) — which also fully debunked the notion that Ben Barnes was responsible for getting Dubya into a safe spot in the Texas Air National Guard, and which I highly recommend that anyone even remotely interested in Dubya's TANG days read in full — we find these names, dates, and witnesses (boldface mine throughout): 

David Hanifl of La Crescent, Minn., an Air Force regular who went through pilot training in Georgia with George W. Bush, said the flight instructors were eager to fly with the Texan.

"He didn't get any preferential treatment, but some of the instructors liked the idea of scheduling him to fly with them because of his connections," he said.

Mr. Hanifl said it was somewhat unusual for a Guardsman to be included in the flight class with Air Force regulars.

"You had to have clout to get that type of assignment," he said.  He added that Mr. Bush was a good pilot and did not seek any favors....

After completing basic training in San Antonio in August 1968, [Bush] helped out aircraft mechanics at Ellington [Field in Houston] until that November, when a pilot-training slot came open.

He was promoted to second lieutenant and began a 13-month pilot training program at Moody Air Force Base, in Georgia.

He was the only Guardsman among the 70 or so officers from other branches of the military who began the training.

Well, damn that Dubya!  Damn that Poppy and Babs!  There they go pulling strings again, it would seem.  See that reference to "clout"?

Only if strings were pulled and clout was exercised, it was to get young Bush assigned to standard Air Force pilot training — because it was the first slot that was open, would put him with the best pilots, and most quickly qualify him to fly the same TANG F-102s that were still in combat over the skies of Southeast Asia:

Mr. Bush has said that he signed up for but lacked the number of flying hours to participate in a program called the Palace Alert, which eventually rotated nine pilots from his unit into Southeast Asia from 1969 to 1970.

His signup and his willingness to participate was confirmed by several of his colleagues and superiors, who remembered the effort as brash but admirable.

(November 1968, parenthetically, would have been when John Kerry was just finishing up his Swift Boats training in San Diego, expecting his Swift Boat duty to be relatively less dangerous coastal patrols instead of the intense river and canal patroling that the Swifts were assigned after he'd already volunteered for them.  Yes, I know Kerry ended up facing enemy fire in hot combat and Dubya didn't, as things turned out; Dubya agrees that Kerry's military record showed more bravery because of that.  I'm just sayin' ....)

Posted by Beldar at 11:00 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Did Dubya fly with the United States Air Force? and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Response to 2nd Week of DNC Smears from It'z News to Me

Tracked on Sep 13, 2004 11:45:30 AM

» Bush's "AWOL" Time Explained? from Media Lies

Tracked on Sep 13, 2004 11:47:01 PM

» Bush's "AWOL" Time Explained? from Media Lies

Tracked on Sep 13, 2004 11:48:41 PM

» Bush's "AWOL" Time Explained? from Media Lies

Tracked on Sep 13, 2004 11:51:28 PM


(1) recon made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 11:26:56 PM | Permalink

Remember Kerry was a US Navy RESERVE, and not REGULAR Navy officer?

And he plans on banging GWB for being in the Guard, and simply not getting orders to RVN?

Pathetic picker of nits.

The deeper Kerry takes this, the more he dishonors the service of various Guard and Reserve components who went to combat when and wherever ordered, then and since.

(2) Wallace-Midland, Texas made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 11:27:22 PM | Permalink

Excuse me for bringing this minor point to the fray......but I don't believe that the stinkin' Texas National Guard has it's own flight school, so who the hell else is he gonna' train with. I was in the Regular Army and I had all manner of National Guard officers in my U.S. Army Infantry officer school, Airborne school and Ranger school.

And just what other branches of the military would one expect to be in Air Force Flight Training? As I remember from my years in the Army, we didn't have fighter jets...and the Navy and Marines have their own schools.

(3) Andrei made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 11:32:00 PM | Permalink

'served with the Air Force' is somewhat less unequivocal than 'Christmas in Cambodia ...... seared seared in my memory'

(4) Dan made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 11:36:22 PM | Permalink

Frankly, I think all this on Bush is a non-issue. And I'd take my cue from the campaign. President Bush met his obligations in the Guard and was honorably discharged. He has signed a form 180 and beyond that there is nothing to say.

This is fine because the President has his time as Commander in Chief to prove his merit and he and his campaign will stay above this fray. Besides that, the charges sound petty and insignificant. One may have gotten something wrong on a flyer in 78. the other comited treason in front of the Senate. I would not aid democrats by going on with htis issue as if there were some moral equivalency. There isn't. The dems are a day late and a dollar short on this. The topic for Bush will remain what he plans to do with a second term, both here and abroad.

It is Kerry who has yet to sign Form 180. And it is Kerry who must answer to the soldiers and the families of soldiers he so betrayed and abused upon his return from Vietnam.

No matter how any of this goes at this point is mostly irrelevant. The most significant component of this is while it is all going on, no one is hearing or getting Kerry's message - however cleverly crafted it may become.

The plan for Bush must be this: Bush stays on topic and Iraq and the economy must be managed as well as possible and that includes managing the perceptions of those two elements. The Republicans presently control the debate around the race. And they must not and will not relinguish that control by wading into this democratic silliness.

(5) Voice of Reason made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 11:50:43 PM | Permalink

The advertisement in question is visible here. It says Bush "served in" the U.S. Air Force. You be the judge of the accuracy; the ANG's website is www.ang.af.mil. The .af. stands for Air Force.

(6) dmun made the following comment | Sep 12, 2004 11:55:44 PM | Permalink

“’ But according to Air Force officials, Air National Guardsmen are not counted as members of the active-duty Air Force.”

This statement is true as far as it goes. George Bush would be considered Active-duty USAF as an Air National Guardsmen. He still get active-duty credit for serving in the USAF for time in training. I think I read somewere that was two years or so. So he has two years or so of active-duty in the USAF as Air National Guardsman.
Acording to John Kerry's Military records, he joined the USNR. not the USN. When he went active, the Navy viewed him as active-duty USNR. I don't know for sure but I would bet the the USN does not count USNR members that are on active-duty as part of the "active-duty USN"

(7) George Dunham made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 12:05:40 AM | Permalink

I retired with 22 years in the Navy, but started out as a reserve. When I reported for active duty I was issued a standard green USN ID Card just like everyone else. What a bunch of huey. I can't wait to see the next weeks polls. (Bush lead grows I'll bet)

(8) UpNights made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 12:28:26 AM | Permalink

Oh! More lies! More lies! According to the clipping linked by Voice of Reason above, Bush got his MBA BEFORE he served in the Air Force! What will the Dem oppos make of that!

(9) Leslie made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 12:51:14 AM | Permalink

Bandit debunks this:


(10) Polaris made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 1:01:26 AM | Permalink

I was a member of both the regular USAF and a member of the Air Guard (for my reserve commitment). I can tell you for a fact that when on active duty (such as flight school), a National Guard Officer is no different than any other Reserve Officer on Active Duty (which is most officers O-3 or less).

Given that, Bush's statement in his campaign is what I would call accurate. He had about two years of active duty (training) time complete with active duty commitments and responsibilities (and the ubiquitous green Id card to go with it). Remember too that all Guard Officers are concurrently members of the Army (or Air Force) Reserve [this is how National Guard troops get federalized].

Bottom Line: President Bush was at least as much a member of the USAF (at least during training) as Kerry was of the USN.


(11) Jim Howard made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 1:14:18 AM | Permalink

I came into the Air Force as a navigator in 1974.

At that time and today the Guard did not do its own undergraduate pilot training. All guard pilots spent the best part of two year in undergradate and advanced pilot training.

The DNC is quoting a bean counter in the pentagon about how guard and active students are counted for budget purposes.

From the point of view of the student and instructor there is no meaningful difference between any pilot training student. All are full time Air Force, all under the UCMJ 24x7.

The DNC is dishonest party in this discussion.

(12) andrei made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 1:41:29 AM | Permalink

I've been thinking about this.

Could the Democrats strategy be
to talk about Bush and the Guard whilst distracting the conversation away from Kerry's record.

With the silliness of this new attack many people will say 'ENOUGH ALREADY, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE TALK OF 30 years ago - BUSH OR KERRY'

George Bush has had is military record picked to pieces while KERRY will get a pass because the average Joe will not be listening anymore.


(13) davod made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 3:12:24 AM | Permalink

Andrei has it partly right. The dems just want to give the media something to hang their hats on. Their advertisements lend an air of legitimacy to concentrating on Bush and not talking about Kerry's USNR problems.

(14) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 9:03:12 AM | Permalink

Full version of flyer available here.

(15) BarCodeKing made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 9:09:55 AM | Permalink

Who's running the Kerry campaign? Wile E. Coyote? You have to wonder.

Last week, someone slipped some forged documents about President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service to CBS's Dan Rather and "60 Minutes." When the documents were exposed as forgeries (and bad forgeries at that), the whole thing blew up in CBS's face and made any further inquiries about Bush's TANG service likely to elicit comments like, "Oh, what forgeries do you have to show us NOW?"

Well, some idiot at the Democratic National Committee, probably Terry McAwful himself, is planning to continue their planned "Operation Fortunate Son," which will attempt to discredit Bush's TANG record. This is like offering the roadrunner an exploding cigar, lighting one up with him and having YOUR cigar blow up in your face, then reaching for ANOTHER cigar from the same Acme cigar box. Does Wile E. McAuliffe really think that this cigar will blow up in Bush's face and not his own?

Meanwhile, I want to know who gave the forgeries to CBS. Was it really someone in the Kerry campaign or the DNC, as some have speculated? You know that the pressure will be on CBS to come clean about the source of the forged documents. CBS and Rather are stonewalling now while they decide what they have to do, but I'm guessing that Rather will be gone by the end of the week.

(16) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 9:40:03 AM | Permalink

The Air Nat'l Guard is a branch of the Air Force. It's easy enough to verify, simply go to one of the sources of documents, such as awolbush.com, and read the words "Air Force" or the abbreviations AF. Examples abound, such as (grabbing a few at random):

AF Form 712
Air Reserve Forces Retirement Credit Summary

or, my favorite from May 1, 73:

Department of the Air Force
147th Fighter Incerceptor Group
Ellington Air Force Base, Texas 77030

(17) Leon made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 3:53:34 PM | Permalink

Kerry having a reserve commission does not indicate much of anything. Most Navy officers graduating and being commissioned from ROTC and OCS received reserve commissions. (So did the AF ROTC grads) If you wanted to make it a career you could then apply for a regular commission. Otherwise you could be released after your obligated time or earlier if the particular service saw fit. The distinction between regular and reserve commissions does not indicate a difference between "reserve" versus "active-duty". The distinction has more relevance to manpower arcana involving career-orientation, authorized end-strength, etc. A reserve officer can be given a "handshake" and "thanks" if the service is cutting back. A regular officer is harder to ease out. As far as the Navy is concerned any parallels between the TANG and the AF or the National Guard and the Army break down because the Navy has a reserve component but it is part of the USN and not of any state organization. (with the exception of the reserves drilling in NY and, I believe, one other state who are also members of a "state naval militia" but are primarily USNR and issues of federalization are inapplicable. But the NY'ers do get another very colorful ribbon to wear) In short, the only difference between a USN and a USNR commission is the form of letter filed if the officer wants to get out at the end of his obligated service. If he wants to stay in, the USNR officer is like a temp - the first to go. Leon, LCDR-RET, USN-R, used to be USNR

(18) J_Crater made the following comment | Sep 13, 2004 4:37:29 PM | Permalink

So Drudge now was a 27-May-1968 Statement of Understanding that seems to indicate that Bush was "a Reserve of the Air Force for service in the Air National Guard of the United States" during which Bush went "active duty" Air Force Reserve for 120 days or till completion of training.

Another Terry McAuliffe DNC plot with no teeth because none of them were ever in the military. We obvious need Kerry at the DNC (not the White House).

(19) Dan made the following comment | Sep 14, 2004 12:03:19 AM | Permalink


Drudge NOW also has a link up to a pdf file with docs Bush signed to go on "Active Duty" for a minimum of 120 Days. Training, of course - but ACTIVE DUTY none the less. Oh man, Karl Rove keeps setting them up and knocking them down!! ha ha

They come up with a negative spin for the day and he pulls the rug right out from under them faster than Kerry can change his mind. They look stupid, as well as petty. I freakin love it! ha ha ha

The comments to this entry are closed.