February 12, 2004


An interesting letter in today’s Washington Times:

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 letter is from Col. William Campenni (retired), a fellow lieutenant with George W. Bush in the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Texas Air National Guard from 1970 to 1971.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 12, 2004 11:32 AM

Just a question. How were plane assignments decided upon? F-100 pilots may have been sent to combat in Vietnam but F-102s had been removed from Asia and given to the Reserves so a F-102 pilot had no chance of going there unless he was retrained on another plane.

Posted by: alan aronson at February 12, 2004 at 12:08 PM

reserves and guard are like the younger brothers. They get the handme downs. perfectly understandable

Posted by: capt joe at February 12, 2004 at 12:32 PM

Well, that takes care of one of Mike Moore's questions -- http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php

Posted by: Seppo at February 12, 2004 at 12:40 PM

Right on about the 'hand-me-down' thing- the reserves are where all those B1-Lancers went when the regular AF decided they were more trouble than they were worth.

The pilots love 'em- a bomber that thinks it's a fighter, yeeha! The ground crews hate 'em, bcause it's a bomber that has to be maintained like a fighter.

I'm with the pilots on this one. No airplane ever got shot down because it could go too fast or turn too tightly. ;-)

Posted by: rosignol at February 12, 2004 at 01:12 PM

Already debunked here.

Posted by: Peter at February 12, 2004 at 02:09 PM

No Pete, not debunked, just denied.

I even checked the site that they claim debunked the letter and it too just denied it.

Saying 'No. no. no. no. no' does not equal debunking.

Debunking requires the presentation of proof.

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at February 12, 2004 at 02:31 PM


Like most things, at atrios it's "Nyaa Nyaa Nyaa, we don't believe anything from BusHilter, OIL, HALIBURTON, yada yada - Facts are what we say they are". Why go there, or in other words Don't go there. ;)

Posted by: capt joe at February 12, 2004 at 03:08 PM

"Already debunked here."

Oh yeah. Debunked by Hesiod. He couldn't de-bunk a sleeping Cindy Brady with a crow-bar.

Posted by: Craig Mc at February 12, 2004 at 03:09 PM

I read this earlier, great letter! Should be passed around..

and, did anyone hear Colin Powell, ready to roll up his sleeves when Congressman Sherrod Brown mentioned Bush Military Record?

"You DON"T know what you are talking about"

It gets better..

Posted by: AAVA at February 12, 2004 at 03:20 PM

Maybe I should start citing the Onion and Scrappleface as my main support for my arguments...

Posted by: Jerry at February 12, 2004 at 03:21 PM

Let me see. One candidate served his 2 year draft during the Vietnam War at home flying planes. This candidate then went on t0 win 2 wars as Commander-in-Chief. The other candidate went to the Vietnam war and fought as a junior officer. He then returned to protest about that war and to blackguard fellow servicemen who had fought in Vietnam and were still fighting.

The first candidate obviously has the experience in doing what Presidents have to do, ie directing a nation at war. Being a combat officer has nothing to do with that. The other candidate has good expereience for the job of ... gigolo, pander to special interests, champagne socialist?

Posted by: Toryhere at February 12, 2004 at 03:24 PM

I quickly perused the so-called debunking, and the earlier comments are quite correct - saying 'a bald face lie' and 'bwaa haha haha' do not count as a debunking, unbunking or nonbunking. The allegations lower down, that the author did not serve in the national guard with Dubya is at least an attempt at a debunk (though it goes to the credibility of the author, rather than the point he is making), but again, these are merely allegations.
I know that this site uses sarcasm and hyperbole to make a point, but it also backs it up with evidence and links to prove a point. The supposed debunking site just sounds like an angry 15 year old spouting off. I was hoping for a post on how mad he was at his dad...
Sorry Peter, but that post has been hit repeatedly by debunker busters, and has been found wanting...

Posted by: Paul Dub at February 12, 2004 at 04:04 PM

Alan Aronson -- Not much mystery here. Bush was from Texas, so he joined the Texas Air National Guard. The unit was the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The unit defines the mission, and the mission defines the aircraft. Their mission was to prevent penetration of American borders by enemy bombers. The F-102 was designed to get to altitude very quickly and shoot down enemy bombers. It was not designed, nor very good at dogfighting (not necessary for bomber shootdown). High speed to altitude and at altitude is more critical. This also meant that it was lousy at low speed and low altitude, which contributed to its high accident rate. This also meant it couldn't be used for tactical bombing, which is why it was not used in South Vietnam, coupled with its inability to dogfight, which is why it wasn't used in the North over Hanoi or Haiphong. For a couple of decades now, the border intercept mission has been handled by Air National Guard and Naval Air Reserve units. I remember spending a very miserable 12 hours in the late 60s at the Key West (Florida) Naval Air Station flight line. Every 15 to 45 minutes, a pair of F-4 Phantoms would take off in maximum intercept mode, chasing radar blips between Key West and Cuba. In Houston, Texas, similar rader blips would have been chased by the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, to which Bush was assigned.

Posted by: CGeib at February 12, 2004 at 05:14 PM

CGeib has hit upon a couple of valuable points conveniently overlooked by many, namely that the old F-102 was 1) dangerous to fly, and 2) was flown at that time by the ANG in an operational environment.

In a fast jet, it doesn't matter if you're killed by enemy action, or by trying to land in a rainstorm with failed instruments after a late night intercept. You're just as dead either way.

Posted by: Wilbur at February 12, 2004 at 07:23 PM

" At least three seperate members of the armed forces- Lieutenant Colonel William Turnipseed, Lieutenant Colonel William Harris Jr., and Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Killian- have stated that Bush was not present on base or not accurately reported by previous sources as to his location and service.

Let's make this the most clear, the people who claim that Bush's service record is without discrepancy are accusing three members of the U.S. military of lying. Serious charge, guys... and your proof is?

It's this little silly thing called "witnesses" and "evidence." Bush's lies are slowly being reported with documents and collaborating testimony... testimony and evidence that, you might have noticed, has not for one minute been proven to be false."

from... http://www.xoverboard.com/

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at February 12, 2004 at 10:15 PM

Oh yeah. Debunked by Hesiod. He couldn't de-bunk a sleeping Cindy Brady with a crow-bar.

LOL, I'm going to have to steal that line and use it in the future.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at February 12, 2004 at 10:49 PM

Loathe though I am to reference the freepers (finding them a little too, ah, kinetic for my taste), they've added some interesting sidelights to Turnipseed's story at


I just got off the phone about an hour ago with Brig. Gen. William R. Turnipseed. He is the sole source for the four year old story that Bush was AWOL during his National Guard service.

Mr. Turnipseed is very unhappy with the way what he said "casually" four years ago has been twisted by the "Bush haters" (his words) in the media, especially the Boston Globe (who first reported the story) and the New York Times.

In a nutshell here is what happened, according to Turnipseed. Back in 1972 his Alabama National Guard unit received a letter from Bush (who was in the Texas Nation Guard) asking if he while he was in Alabama do some equivalancy training with the Alabama unit.

Turnipseed said that this request was as a matter of routine turned over to his administrative assistant, Lott, who wrote back to Bush, giving him the dates of the next unit drills. Lott told Bush he could report for those dates.

Neither Turnipseed nor Lott can now remember whether Bush appeared for these drills or not. Turnipseed says he himself might not have even been around the base at the time, so he wouldn't know one way or the other. And he says he has always said this.

The points Turnipseed wanted to stress are these: Bush was never ordered to report for duty to his unit. Since Bush was in the Texas National Guard and Turnipseed was in the Alabama National Guard, he couldn't have ordered him even if he had wanted to. But he didn't want to.

He (or his assistant, Lott) simply gave Bush the dates he could report if he wanted to do equivalency training with them. There were no orders given. If he showed up or didn't show up, it wasn't their concern.

Additionally, Turnipseed says that he never once said anything about Bush being "AWOL." He said it isn't even a term used in the National Guard. And anyway, as already noted, Bush's training record was not his concern, but the Texas National Guard's.

He said that since the Texas National Guard gave him an honorable discharge it shows that he fulfilled his training requirements.

Turnipseed said that the media has constantly misrepresented what he said and edited him so as to make Bush look bad.

He also said that he had no idea who Bush was, and that he certainly didn't do him any special favors. Nor would he have.

He said that when he first spoke to the Boston Globe reporter about this four years ago he didn't realize he was talking to a "Bush hater."

Turnipseed is a strong Bush supporter. He said that he has been contacted many times especially recently, by "Bush haters" in the media, who try to get him to say that Bush was AWOL. Once they realize that he won't cooperate they lose interest in talking to him. When they do quote him, they say he is backpedaling--even though he is still saying the same exact thing he told them four years ago.

He has been recently asked to go on with Peter Jennings and NBC's Dateline, but he is concerned that they will edit him in such a way as to misrepresent his story again. I have been in touch with Fox news, in hopes that they will have somebody talk to him and try to present his story fairly.

Bottom line, this whole AWOL story was media spin from the git-go. The Boston Globe reporter simply cherry picked Turnipseed's comments and totally misrepresented him--to make Bush look bad.

And the media are still doing it four years later. They should be ashamed--but they have no shame. They have only their agenda.

Posted by: Bruce at February 12, 2004 at 11:21 PM

Sincerity Slips: are you just obdurately willfully ignorant, or are you stupid, or do you know so little about the US armed services that you believe you can make shit up about behavior and have anyone with real knowledge accept it? ANYONE with US military service can tell you that it is perfectly reasonble to be doing your duty (especially when it amounts to a few days per month) and not be "observed" by a commanding officer. "Observed" does not mean casually noticed, it means "closely watched for purposes of appraisal." Get it thru your (probably) thick skull.

Likewise, if you don't know what you're talking about in terms of "not present" and so forth, STFU. If you want to prove something, it is usually regarded as proper to begin with your axioms and work toward a conclusion (when done in this case it always shows Bush as being correct) not from your desired conclusion and working backwards to possible axioms that, if twisted enough, might then lead to your desired conclusion.

I am so sick of people with absolutely no experience with how the military works pontificating from on high. I have an idea. Volunteer (regular, Reserves, National Guard, whatever) for military service, and in a couple of years, when you have some experience, come on back and we'll talk. Until then, you're just another blowhard.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at February 13, 2004 at 01:57 AM


Thanks for the link to which ex Lt Col Turnipseed actually said and thinks.

Did you notice the slightly hysterical and shrill tone that left-wing rhetoric usually takes in the material provided by "Sincerity Slips"? Compare it with the straightforward and practical language in Bruce's post. An interesting and all-too-typical contrast.

Sincerity Slips' article states:

"Let's make this the most clear, the people who claim that Bush's service record is without discrepancy are accusing three members of the U.S. military of lying. Serious charge, guys... and your proof is?"

It turns out that it is this slightly spittle-flecked source and Sincerity Slips him/herself who are lying to us. Sprung!

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at February 13, 2004 at 07:39 AM