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21st of February, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 05:38

“Upon graduating from Yale, Bush applied for a position in the Texas National Guard, a coveted spot that required only part-time military duties at home, far from the battlefields of Vietnam. Bush was catapulted to the front of 500 other applicants after a friend of his father, then a wealthy Houston congressman, phoned the Speaker of the Texas House, according to the Boston Globe.

After completing training as a pilot, George W. Bush requested and immediately received a transfer to an Alabama National Guard unit in May, 1972. But Bush never showed up for duty there, according to the Alabama unit’s commander and the commander’s assistant, who were interviewed by the Boston Globe.

Military records show that Bush’s two commanding officers back in Texas reported George W. did not show up for duty there either for a year, and that they believed he had been transferred to Alabama. Meanwhile, when Bush failed to take his required annual medical exam in August, 1972, his pilot status was removed.

It should be noted that reporting for military duty is not something that’s optional, particularly during a war. Those caught shirking National Guard duties were usually punished by being drafted into the real army . the one that landed you in Vietman, where some 350 American soldiers were killed each week. But, despite more than a year absent from duty, nothing happened to the well-connected George W. Bush.

Favouritism is a sore point among those who actually went to war, including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. As Powell wrote in his autobiography: ‘I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed ... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units ... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal ...’

You’ve got to marvel at Powell’s anger management skills.”

© The Toronto Star, Nov 17 2002

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