From an article in Air Force Times:
Bush graduated from flight school in 1969, was certified July 9, 1970, as “combat ready” in the F-102, and began winning praise for his flight and leadership skills. On his April 30, 1971, fitness report, covering 166 active-duty days over a period of 17 months, he earned high marks.
Notice that he was certified after the F-102s were out of Vietnam. Was he lucky or did have inside info? After all, his dad had some pretty high contacts in DC, which was possibly why Bush was so readily accepted into the "champagne unit" of TANG in the first place.
“Lt. Bush is an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot,” wrote his commanding officer in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Houston, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. Bush “performed in an outstanding manner … a natural leader.”
But from there, Bush’s performance slipped. The descent began when Bush apparently did not follow an order to report for his annual flight physical in May 1972, which got him grounded.
The grounding was noted in one of the four documents unveiled by CBS — which were given to the White House, which released them to the rest of the media. It appears to be an order signed by Killian suspending Bush from flight status “due to failure to perform to USAF/TexANG standards and failure to meet annual physical examination (flight) as ordered.”
Handwriting experts hired by many media organizations as well as other critics contend the document, and possibly all four, are forgeries. However, Killian’s order is confirmed by two documents that were not part of the CBS papers. The first is a White House-released letter from the commander of the 147th Fighter Group, Col. Bobby W. Hodges, to its Texas higher command dated Sept. 5, 1972, with a subject line of “Suspension From Flying Status.”
The letter documents the missed flight physical and the suspension, “effective 1 Aug 1972.” A Sept. 29 order from the National Guard Bureau further confirms the missed physical and the suspension.
On May 26, 1972, Bush asked in writing for reassignment to an Air Reserve squadron in Alabama so he could work on the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton “Red” Blount, a close friend of his influential father. That was rejected because Bush was obligated to serve as a Ready Reservist until May 26, 1974, and was ineligible for assignment to the Air Reserve. About three months later, on Sept. 5, Bush asked to perform “equivalent duty” with the Alabama unit from September to November. Killian approved the request a day later. The orders went through on Sept. 15, and while Bush had missed the Sept. 9-10 unit training assembly, the document noted he could make the next two. Bush’s Officer Military Record shows an Oct. 1, 1973, discharge from the Texas Air National Guard and transfer to the Alabama unit.
Another White House-released document shows a total of 56 points Bush apparently earned during this 12-month period, but it’s awarded in one lump sum rather than credited for each training period. But this document also contains an error, listing Bush’s status as “PLT On-Fly” — meaning he was on flight status — when he had not been for a year. This, said retired Army Lt. Col. Gerald A. Lechliter, who has done an in-depth analysis of Bush’s pay records (www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/opinion/lechliter.pdf), makes the form’s authenticity suspect.
There’s also the record of a Jan. 6, 1973, dental exam performed on Bush at Dannelly Air National Guard Base, Ala. There’s nothing that documents why Bush, who reportedly returned to Texas after the election, didn’t get this work done closer to home.
Bush’s attendance and participation in weekend drills had been meticulously recorded up through May 1972. But other than the points record and the dental exam record, the year following Bush’s request for reassignment to Alabama is a blank.
In a fitness report supplement released by the White House this year, an administrative officer wrote, “Not rated for the period 1 May 72 through 30 Apr 73. Report for this period not available for administrative reasons.”
In the remarks section, Killian wrote that Bush “has not been observed at this unit during the period of report. … He cleared this base on 15 May 1972 and has been performing equivalent training in a non flying status” with the Alabama unit. Bush, however, was only authorized to be gone from September to November.
‘Don’t remember seeing you’
The same day Barnes spoke with CBS, a new pro-Kerry group, Texans for Truth, announced it was launching a TV ad campaign that would attack Bush for failing to perform his duties while temporarily assigned to the Alabama unit. While it wasn’t a new accusation, the ad featured a member of that unit who said he’d never met the future president.
“I heard George Bush get up and say, ‘I served in the 187th Air National Guard in Montgomery, Alabama,’” retired Lt. Col. Robert Mintz said on camera. “Really? That was my unit. And I don’t remember seeing you there. …”
On Sept. 5, Bush formally asked Killian for a discharge from the Texas unit so he could attend Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Mass. Two weeks later, Hodges approved the request and honorably discharged Bush, administratively transferring him to Headquarters, Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver.
Two months earlier, on June 30, Bush signed a statement promising that if he left his Texas Ready Reserve unit, “it is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve Forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months.”
There is no record of Bush ever having signed on with a Massachusetts Reserve unit. In 1999, Dan Bartlett, working for the Bush campaign, told The Washington Post that Bush had completed his six-year commitment with a Boston unit. That didn’t happen, Bartlett recently told The Boston Globe. “I must have misspoke,” he said. The following March, Bush was redesignated as an “executive support officer.” In May, he was placed on inactive status. On Nov. 21 — apparently at Bush’s written request, according to an undated letter sent from Massachusetts and released by the White House in which he requests “to discharge from the standby reserve” — he received an honorable discharge “from all appointments in the United States Air Force.”
I honestly envy people who think that Bush served honorably and bravely during Vietnam and that he's an all-around stand-up guy and a great president. Our country is at war, and when I see our commander-in-chief, I see a weak man who has gotten this far in life largely because of his contacts. I see a White House that has had an effective PR operation, but a poor policy-making one, especially with regard to the Iraq War. In short, I see a lot that makes me nervous. I have no confidence in this President, but I sure hope he's lucky because those are my fellow citizens whose lives are on the line in Iraq--and all of our lives may be on the line if politics trumps policy on border and homeland security.
Partisans on either side can spin Bush this way or that, and all of us are human and make mistakes, but what worries me about Bush is that he has never seemed to have had to develop a sense of accountability for his actions. Whether it was spotty guard service or failed business dealings, he managed to land on his feet not because of his own abilities but because there was always someone to help him cover his rear end. Well, that ceases to work when you listen to the wrong people as POTUS and you end up making decisions that cause our troops to be in harm's way.
I don't think he's evil. I don't even know that he's not a likeable guy. But he does seem to me to be possibly the worst president this country has had in a long time. Given the situation we're in, I wish had more confidence in him. But when this administration is giving medals to the people who allegedly gave it "bad intelligence" that got us into an unnecessary war, when they stonewall inquiries into just how that intelligence was processed and put an ultra-partisan like Lawrence Silberman in charge of the investigation, when they give Halliburton a new 5 billion dollar contract despite the company's record of ripping us off, when tax cuts are rammed through that even his own Treasury Secretary argues are deficit-inducing, when war means no one has to sacrifice anything except the ones who do the fighting and dying, when the religious right has so much influence over domestic policies, I get pretty depressed. So I wish I had more confidence in Bush personally and in his administration in general.