George W. Bush a deserter from the military?-Disputed!

President George W. Bush is a Deserter from the MilitaryDisputed!

Summary of eRumor:

The eRumor asks the question of why George W. Bush was not prosecuted for desertion from the military during his time of service.  It suggests that perhaps his father, George H. Bush, played a role in preventing it.

The Truth:

Mr. Bush’s critics are describing him as a deserter, an officer who went AWOL.

His defenders say that it’s exaggeration to equate him with active duty personnel who desert their post, say good bye to the military, and go into hiding.

Getting a clear picture is difficult, although there are some records of his military service that have been released.

George W. Bush’s military service has been a controversy in each of his elections.
The current controversy all got started with an investigation by the Boston Globe newspaper.
The Globe concluded that Mr. Bush was an excellent National Guard pilot who served portions of his six-year commitment by putting in more active-duty time than required, but there is a year toward the end of his time of service during which there are no records of his having shown up for required meetings and drills.
The Globe also explored the question of whether he got into the National Guard through strings pulled for him as the son of a U.S. Congressman.
The article concludes that he did benefit from favored treatment on more than one occasion.

In May of 1968 Mr. Bush enlisted and was chosen for training as an Air Force pilot.
Critics have noted that he got into pilot training despite poor initial testing, suggesting that someone on the inside helped move him to the top of the list.
The Globe interviewed National Guard officials who said it was because few National Guard enlistees were willing to commit to the required 18 months of flight training and that put them higher on the list.

In November of 1969, the future president completed flight training and was assigned to become an F-102 fighter pilot assigned to Ellington Air Force Base.

Until his fifth year of National Guard duty, there is no question about his service.
The Globe says those who served with Mr. Bush regarded him as a top pilot and that he spent more time on active duty than was minimally required for reservists.
In the first four years of of his six-year commitment, he spent the equivalent of 21 months on duty.

In May of 1972, George W. Bush moved to Alabama to help in a U.S. Senate campaign and requested permission to serve in a unit in that state.
His superiors, however, later said they did not approve of that unit because the unit didn’t do much.  
There were virtually no drills or exercises.
The unit’s commander told the Boston Globe that it had no airplanes and essentially met one weeknight per month.
The Globe says that months apparently went by without resolution to Mr. Bush’s status and, therefore, no guard duty.
Technically, without new orders, he was still a part of his unit in Texas, but he was living in Alabama.
Mr. Bush was eventually assigned to a unit in Montgomery.
One of the superior officers there told the Globe he could not remember George Bush serving there.  But in 2004, he told reporters that he never intended for that statement to mean that Mr. Bush hadn’t served.  
He was simply saying he didn’t recall his being there..
During that time, Bush failed to take his annual pilot’s physical examination and was removed from flight status.
A Bush spokesman told the Globe that Mr. Bush does recall doing some duty in Alabama.
On another occasion, a representative for the president said that Bush made up for any time that was lost by participating in other drills.
But his service records show about a year in which there is no report of duty.

From May to July of 1973, the records show that Mr. Bush did log 36 days of active duty.  He was granted an honorable discharge in October of 1973.
The records for July, August and September have not been found and officials say they were inadvertently destroyed.

The New York Times looked into the allegations in 2002 and concluded that the time Mr. Bush missed had been made up satisfactorily and that his records showed his having performed all the required service.

George Magazine looked into the story as well and concluded that there were two documents in George Bush’s records that indicated that he accumulated 56 points toward his required minimum of 50 points necessary to be regarded as a guardsman at the time that is in question.

In 2004, the issue flared again during the presidential primary season.
The White House released pay stubs from the Alabama years, saying it was proof that he served.
Critics said that was only proof that he got paid, which was never in dispute, not that he actually served.
In July, 2004, the Pentagon released newly discovered records from the Alabama year, but they, like the previous records, did not include July through September and did not shed any light on those months.

In September, 2004, CBS reported on some newly discovered memos including one from Col. Walter “Buck” Staudt that said openly that Bush sought special favors in the National Guard and did not fulfill his service.
There were immediate questions, however, about the authenticity of the memos.
Typography experts said the documents appeared to have been created on equipment that was not available during the early 1970’s when they were supposedly written.
The Dallas Morning News then revealed that Col. Staudt had been honorably discharged from the military a year-and-a-half before the date on the memo.
CBS stood by its story for two weeks, then announced on 9/20/04 that it had been misled about the documents and that it could no longer vouch for their authenticity.
CBS anchor Dan Rather issued an apology about the story.

Last updated 9/20/04