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So much for the Bush military service brouhaha...

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Preacherman, Feb 11, 2004.

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  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    From the Washington Times, Letters To The Editor, February 11, 2004 (http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20040210-082910-8424r.htm):

    'Bush and I were lieutenants'

    George Bush and I were lieutenants and pilots in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), Texas Air National Guard (ANG) from 1970 to 1971. We had the same flight and squadron commanders (Maj. William Harris and Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, both now deceased). While we were not part of the same social circle outside the base, we were in the same fraternity of fighter pilots, and proudly wore the same squadron patch.

    It is quite frustrating to hear the daily cacophony from the left and Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, et al., about Lt. Bush escaping his military responsibilities by hiding in the Texas ANG. In the Air Guard during the Vietnam War, you were always subject to call-up, as many Air National Guardsmen are finding out today. If the 111th FIS and Lt. Bush did not go to Vietnam, blame President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, not lowly Lt. Bush. They deliberately avoided use of the Guard and Reserves for domestic political calculations, knowing that a draftee only stirred up the concerns of one family, while a call-up got a whole community's attention.

    The mission of the 147th Fighter Group and its subordinate 111th FIS, Texas ANG, and the airplane it possessed, the F-102, was air defense. It was focused on defending the continental United States from Soviet nuclear bombers. The F-102 could not drop bombs and would have been useless in Vietnam. A pilot program using ANG volunteer pilots in F-102s (called Palace Alert) was scrapped quickly after the airplane proved to be unsuitable to the war effort. Ironically, Lt. Bush did inquire about this program but was advised by an ANG supervisor (Maj. Maurice Udell, retired) that he did not have the desired experience (500 hours) at the time and that the program was winding down and not accepting more volunteers.

    If you check the 111th FIS records of 1970-72 and any other ANG squadron, you will find other pilots excused for career obligations and conflicts. The Bush excusal in 1972 was further facilitated by a change in the unit's mission, from an operational fighter squadron to a training squadron with a new airplane, the F-101, which required that more pilots be available for full-time instructor duty rather than part-time traditional reservists with outside employment.

    The winding down of the Vietnam War in 1971 provided a flood of exiting active-duty pilots for these instructor jobs, making part-timers like Lt. Bush and me somewhat superfluous. There was a huge glut of pilots in the Air Force in 1972, and with no cockpits available to put them in, many were shoved into nonflying desk jobs. Any pilot could have left the Air Force or the Air Guard with ease after 1972 before his commitment was up because there just wasn't room for all of them anymore.

    Sadly, few of today's partisan pundits know anything about the environment of service in the Reserves in the 1970s. The image of a reservist at that time is of one who joined, went off for six months' basic training, then came back and drilled weekly or monthly at home, with two weeks of "summer camp." With the knowledge that Mr. Johnson and Mr. McNamara were not going to call out the Reserves, it did become a place of refuge for many wanting to avoid Vietnam.

    There was one big exception to this abusive use of the Guard to avoid the draft, and that was for those who wanted to fly, as pilots or crew members. Because of the training required, signing up for this duty meant up to 2½ years of active duty for training alone, plus a high probability of mobilization. A fighter-pilot candidate selected by the Guard (such as Lt. Bush and me) would be spending the next two years on active duty going through basic training (six weeks), flight training (one year), survival training (two weeks) and combat crew training for his aircraft (six to nine months), followed by local checkout (up to three more months) before he was even deemed combat-ready. Because the draft was just two years, you sure weren't getting out of duty being an Air Guard pilot. If the unit to which you were going back was an F-100, you were mobilized for Vietnam. Avoiding service? Yeah, tell that to those guys.

    The Bush critics do not comprehend the dangers of fighter aviation at any time or place, in Vietnam or at home, when they say other such pilots were risking their lives or even dying while Lt. Bush was in Texas. Our Texas ANG unit lost several planes right there in Houston during Lt. Bush's tenure, with fatalities. Just strapping on one of those obsolescing F-102s was risking one's life.

    Critics such as Mr. Kerry (who served in Vietnam, you know), Terry McAuliffe and Michael Moore (neither of whom served anywhere) say Lt. Bush abandoned his assignment as a jet fighter pilot without explanation or authorization and was AWOL from the Alabama Air Guard.

    Well, as for abandoning his assignment, this is untrue. Lt. Bush was excused for a period to take employment in Florida for a congressman and later in Alabama for a Senate campaign.

    Excusals for employment were common then and are now in the Air Guard, as pilots frequently are in career transitions, and most commanders (as I later was) are flexible in letting their charges take care of career affairs until they return or transfer to another unit near their new employment. Sometimes they will transfer temporarily to another unit to keep them on the active list until they can return home. The receiving unit often has little use for a transitory member, especially in a high-skills category like a pilot, because those slots usually are filled and, if not filled, would require extensive conversion training of up to six months, an unlikely option for a temporary hire.

    As a commander, I would put such "visitors" in some minor administrative post until they went back home. There even were a few instances when I was unaware that they were on my roster because the paperwork often lagged. Today, I can't even recall their names. If a Lt. Bush came into my unit to "pull drills" for a couple of months, I wouldn't be too involved with him because I would have a lot more important things on my table keeping the unit combat ready.

    Another frequent charge is that, as a member of the Texas ANG, Lt. Bush twice ignored or disobeyed lawful orders, first by refusing to report for a required physical in the year when drug testing first became part of the exam, and second by failing to report for duty at the disciplinary unit in Colorado to which he had been ordered. Well, here are the facts:

    First, there is no instance of Lt. Bush disobeying lawful orders in reporting for a physical, as none would be given. Pilots are scheduled for their annual flight physicals in their birth month during that month's weekend drill assembly — the only time the clinic is open. In the Reserves, it is not uncommon to miss this deadline by a month or so for a variety of reasons: The clinic is closed that month for special training; the individual is out of town on civilian business; etc.

    If so, the pilot is grounded temporarily until he completes the physical. Also, the formal drug testing program was not instituted by the Air Force until the 1980s and is done randomly by lot, not as a special part of a flight physical, when one easily could abstain from drug use because of its date certain. Blood work is done, but to ensure a healthy pilot, not confront a drug user.

    Second, there was no such thing as a "disciplinary unit in Colorado" to which Lt. Bush had been ordered. The Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver is a repository of the paperwork for those no longer assigned to a specific unit, such as retirees and transferees. Mine is there now, so I guess I'm "being disciplined." These "disciplinary units" just don't exist. Any discipline, if required, is handled within the local squadron, group or wing, administratively or judicially. Had there been such an infraction or court-martial action, there would be a record and a reflection in Lt. Bush's performance review and personnel folder. None exists, as was confirmed in The Washington Post in 2000.

    Finally, the Kerrys, Moores and McAuliffes are casting a terrible slander on those who served in the Guard, then and now. My Guard career parallels Lt. Bush's, except that I stayed on for 33 years. As a guardsman, I even got to serve in two campaigns. In the Cold War, the air defense of the United States was borne primarily by the Air National Guard, by such people as Lt. Bush and me and a lot of others. Six of those with whom I served in those years never made their 30th birthdays because they died in crashes flying air-defense missions.

    While most of America was sleeping and Mr. Kerry was playing antiwar games with Hanoi Jane Fonda, we were answering 3 a.m. scrambles for who knows what inbound threat over the Canadian subarctic, the cold North Atlantic and the shark-filled Gulf of Mexico. We were the pathfinders in showing that the Guard and Reserves could become reliable members of the first team in the total force, so proudly evidenced today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    It didn't happen by accident. It happened because back at the nadir of Guard fortunes in the early '70s, a lot of volunteer guardsman showed they were ready and able to accept the responsibilities of soldier and citizen — then and now. Lt. Bush was a kid whose congressman father encouraged him to serve in the Air National Guard. We served proudly in the Guard. Would that Mr. Kerry encourage his children and the children of his colleague senators and congressmen to serve now in the Guard.

    In the fighter-pilot world, we have a phrase we use when things are starting to get out of hand and it's time to stop and reset before disaster strikes. We say, "Knock it off." So, Mr. Kerry and your friends who want to slander the Guard: Knock it off.

    COL. WILLIAM CAMPENNI (retired)
    U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard
    Herndon, Va.5
     
  2. Thumper

    Thumper Member

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    Awaiting "Moby" and the rest of the smear artists to descend:

    Three...
    Two...
    one...
     
  3. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    Obviously a Republican fabrication! The GOP machine must have "gotten to him." ;)
     
  4. bountyhunter

    bountyhunter member

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    Excuse me while I puke. This is the most blatant campaign hogwash I have ever seen. Would the colonel care to relate HOW MANY guard were called up during Viet nam and WHAT PERCENTAGE of the force it was?

    This is outrageous. Today's military is made up in VERY large percentage of Guard and Reserves and THEY ARE ALWAYS THE FIRST DEPLOYED (now, not then). The guard have the people who move materiel and set up security, and they were actually activated before the combat forces this time. Navy reserve medical corps supply the field medics for the Marines and they were also activated before combat troops.

    For this colonel to stand there and say that he or any other pilots in 1972 had anywhere near the chances of active service as the Guard does now is just garbage. The truth is that the Guard in the late 60's was a very safe way to avoid combat and it is now a guaranteed front row seat to every military action. Times change.



    :
    That's going to be one hell of a surprise to the Strategic Air Command who flew tens of thousands of missions using their B-52 bombers out of Turkey carrying hydrogen bombs 24/7 to neutralize Russia's threat against our land based missiles. Those SAC wings are the reason Kruschev blinked and ran when Kennedy told him to back down. If those birds were not in the air every second of every day armed to the teeth, we would have been attacked with land based missiles.



    In the real world, we have a phrase we use for cases like this:

    "Please stop shoveling it so deep or at least give me a chance to put on my hip waders.":barf
     
  5. Thumper

    Thumper Member

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    Remember Sean, "They" are everywhere. ;)
     
  6. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    But when other officers slander the President, then later recant and admit they were full of it, that isn't "campaign hogwash"? :p

    What we have here is another case of a classic logical fallacy: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Not having evidence that Bush reported at every place and every time required is not evidence that he did not do so... it is just an absence of evidence. Arguing otherwise is to appeal to the infallibility of military record keeping, which is a comical basis for proving anything (as anyone who ever actually served in the military, or knew somebody who did, would know).
     
  7. fix

    fix Member

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    While I do not mean to cast any aspersions on the Guard and Reserves, they are most certainly NOT always the first deployed. That statement reflects a serious lack of factual knowledge on your part. I didn't see many reservists in Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, or Albania. But then again, what do I know? It's obvious that actually being there is not enough qualification for some people.

    The Guard and Reserves are a vital part of our armed forces. Without them, we could not sustain any prolonged action. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who questions their value or their service is a....I better stop there.

    Edit to add: Saw plenty of reversists :D and NG in Bos-Herz, and quite a few in Kosovo. All Great Americans!
     
  8. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    Bountyhunter, has it ever occurred to you that Col. Campenni might, just might, be the "real deal" - a retired military reserve officer who wants to set the record straight? Aren't you pre-judging him by the devious, double-edged standards of politicians, rather than by the standards of the "real world"? If I were to accuse you of being a shill for the Democratic Party on the basis of your posts on THR, would I not be doing you a grave injustice? So why do the same to the Colonel?

    :fire: :banghead: :mad:
     
  9. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    Actually, you'd be drawing a conclusion based on clear-cut evidence. :D

    On the other hand, there is no evidence that the Colonel in question is being dishonest.
     
  10. Thumper

    Thumper Member

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    I'd say you were an astute reader and pretty dandy at trumpeting the blatantly obvious.

    :D

    Sorry...struck me as funny...
     
  11. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    Um, that isn't an air defense mission. Air defense is shooting down enemy aircraft (and lately, missiles too). Strategic bombers don't do air defense. Showing off your keen knowledge of military affairs again? ;)
     
  12. jfh

    jfh Member

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    if I'm reading his response right

    Bountyhunter's latest post disputes this letter in support Bush's service--BUT DOES NOT REFUTE ANY CLAIM made by Campenni regarding Bush's service. In fact, Bountyhunter's post is mostly full of disputes over "the definitions," as it were--definitions of who is called up and when, etc.

    I take it, then, that the logical question to ask is what proof will you accept?
    Otherwise, the arguments you are putting forth are merely distractions.

    FWIW, my take on your obstinace rests not in having found satisfactory proof, but with an obsessive need to pursue an issue for the reason of other needs of your own. In short, you come off as nothing more than another partisan pundit.

    Jim H.
     
  13. Waitone

    Waitone Member

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    The human being has an amazing capacity to believe what he assumes to be true and filter out anything that doesn't match those assumptions.

    Its a mental filter that is quite effective is keeping a mental even keel in times of stress.
     
  14. Thumper

    Thumper Member

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    Dang...Sean beat me to it.
     
  15. JitsuGuy

    JitsuGuy Member

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  16. Thumper

    Thumper Member

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    We're patiently waiting for bountyhunter to realize he's moved from his statement that "Bush is a draft dodger" to "Bush's service wasn't as honorable as Kerry's."

    In other words, the jig is up.
     
  17. BigG

    BigG Member

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    I enjoyed reading Colonel Campenni's letter. He sounds like a man who knows what he's talking about to this veteran. :D
     
  18. ID_shooting

    ID_shooting Member

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  19. bountyhunter

    bountyhunter member

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    Actually, your reply indicates a large lack of knowledge. In the desert shield campaign (prior to desert storm), the very FIRST reserve unit mobilized to AD in ********** was my wife's Navy Medical unit which supplies the corpsman to the Marine (and is attached to the unit at camp pandleton). The Navy reserve was activated prior to any active duty units being shipped out or even drawing their orders. Those Navy personell were required to staff the hospital ships USS Mercy, Uss Comfort, and USS Hope which were deployed into the area as well as backfill slots at bases in the state where positions were unfilled. Her unit was also one of the last to be released from active duty.

    In the Iraq campaign, Guard units all up and down this state were activated prior to ANY active duty combat force deployment (some from the bay Area). The units were those which specialized in the movement of combat materiel which must be in place to support ground troops. Again, BEFORE combat forces were deployed.

    The Navy Medical units were also stripped clean of the "skills people" before combat deployment, all of the corpsmen and doctors were activated prior to any combat opertions.

    So, to answer your incorrect statement: YES, many reservists and guard ARE deployed (and activated) before combat forces are, and WELL before they are deployed into combat because they provide the support that allows the combat forces to be there.
     
  20. bountyhunter

    bountyhunter member

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    maybe not, but a lot of the facilities were hauled there and set up by them. If not personally delivered, they were set together and loaded onto the transports stateside that flew them there. You guys don't seem to catch the fact that not all (in fact most) of the activated guard never go to the combat zone, they support the guys who do and backfill slots left open when troops are shipped out from here. This country has to stay defended as well and the troops are spread THIN.
     
  21. fix

    fix Member

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    Maybe you didn't understand. Let me spell it out for you.

    I

    WAS

    THERE!

    :banghead:

    That would consitute first hand knowledge to most people, but evidently because my wife wasn't there...I'm just a know nothing SOB.

    You see, there are these things called Marine Expeditionary Units and there are ALWAYS 2 deployed.
     
  22. fix

    fix Member

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    So that would mean that President Bush filled an important role, no?
     
  23. Bruce H

    Bruce H Member

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    Like tires in the mud with the frame on the ground.
     
  24. bountyhunter

    bountyhunter member

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    OK, you want to play more semantics. At the late 60's, it ws common knowledge that the guard was they way to stay out of combat. Published data that shows the total combat force in Viet nam made up by the Guard ranged from about 1% to a peak of 5% proves that assumption was valid. The two statements of :

    "Bush is a draft dodger"

    "Bush's service wasn't as honorable as Kerry's."

    Are not mutually exclusive, they are complimentary. In fact, the second one is a subset of the first. They are also factual. I am not changing what I am saying, you are attempting to re-write it. Nice try.
     
  25. greyhound

    greyhound Member

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    Hyper-partisans on both sides can keep fighting about this, but to Mom-and-Pop America its settled - Democrats didn't prove Persident Bush was AWOL.

    Even John Kerry said he wasn't going to talk about it any more (though I bet he doesn't mind if the DNC keeps beating this dead horse).
     
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