February 15, 2004
Records released by the White House show that George Bush attended
some drills in the Texas Air National Guard in the four months of 1972
while the air losses in Vietnam continued.
On George Bush's last paid day in the Texas Air National Guard, on
April 16, 1972, the air war in Vietnam had turned furious because
Richard Nixon had ordered large strikes against North Vietnam, the
first since 1968. Nixon was certain that bombing would crumble North
Vietnam and give him a smashing victory in the war.
Bush was on duty for 26 days from January 1 until April 16. On that
last day in Texas, April 16, 1972, the front pages around the nation,
which George Bush could see because he was here, far from the
shooting, had a photo of Maj. Gale Albert Despiegler, just captured
after being shot down over Quang Binh, North Vietnam.
Despiegler would be in the same prison with John McCain, who spent
five and a half years in a Hanoi jail and was tortured. He tried
On April 16, the American raids on the port of Haiphong and the
capital city, Hanoi, were reported from Hanoi by Agence France-Presse:
"Anti-aircraft guns fired on a formation of American F-4 fighter
bombers early Sunday as the planes swept low over the North Vietnamese
capital. The Hanoi radio said that American jets struck inside and
outside Hanoi seven hours after the Haiphong raid. The Associated
Press also reported. The radio said that 11 American planes had been
downed in the raid. A Pentagon spokesman refused to comment on the
reports from Hanoi."
The United States command said that escort planes had accompanied the
bombers. Anti-aircraft fire was believed to have been intense and some
planes may have been shot down by surface-to-air missiles and
anti-aircraft fire, but the command's announcement said only that all
B-52's "returned safely."
After that April 16, Bush went to Alabama and that pretty much ended
his fighting career although he did battle cavities in a dentist's
chair at Maxwell Field, Ala.
The hack flacks in the White House and the Pekinese of the press are
fighting over whether Bush actually did go to the dentist and thus was
on duty, or was he missing from a real drill?
His whereabouts have nothing to do with it. What matters only is that
Bush was in the National Guard in Texas because he was dodging the war
in Vietnam. In those days, if you were in the Guard, you were not
called for Vietnam. Some people used college, or marriage, or
Conscientious Objector or moving to Canada to evade. Bush used the
Guard. Anybody trying that today is in great danger. The Guard units
are being called up by the day. But Bush used the Guard when it gave
safety. And now, shamelessly, preposterously, he sends people to get
killed in Iraq. That he has no right to do so doesn't seem to enter
In Texas, George Bush might have even had a uniform on. But he was not
in Vietnam. And now, today, he is a guy who ducked the war, dodged the
war, reneged on any chance to go to war, and yet without even a hint
of personal shame sends young people to die in a war that his record
shows that he would duck.
That Bush was not near any of this is his business. Of course he had
joined the National Guard so he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam. That
he barely went to any National Guard drills is also his business.
What matters to all our senses is that he is a president who struts
around as a war hero, who dodged Vietnam and most of the National
Guard drills and who with less shame than anybody we have had maybe
ever, sends your kids to a war that he ducked as if he was allowed to
do it by birth.
The picture of him playing soldier suit on an aircraft carrier, the
helmet under his arm like he just got back from a run over Baghdad,
marks him as exceedingly dangerous. He believes he is a warrior
president. He is not. He is a war dodger. Therefore, it is
preposterous for George Bush to be a commander of anything. He doesn't
have the right to send people to war and yet he orders them off, and
What was he doing all day in April 16, 1972 when they raided Haiphong?
It was the first attack on the port city by the eight-engine B-52's
that fly slower than the speed of sound and drop enormous amounts of
bomb tonnage in patterns of great length. This makes the B 52's
vulnerable to ground fire, particularly surface-to-air missiles. The
jet fighters, smoked lightning, must fly near the B-52's to attract
the fire from the ground.
A United States communique on April 15 said that four American
aircraft, a Navy jet and three Air Force fighter bombers, were downed
in raids against military targets around Haiphong. The Hanoi
government claimed 15 planes were shot down, including a B-52. United
States army headquarters reported that all B-52's returned from
Another United States communique said the pilot of a Navy Corsair was
rescued at sea, but the two crewmen of an Air Force Force 105
Thunderchief were missing.
Whether this was part of the communique about four planes missing or
was about two more losses, is unsure.
What we are sure of is that we have a commander in chief who plays
soldier with other people's lives.
Copyright © 2004, Newsday,