George W. Bush is Honorably Discharged from the Air Force Reserve

In late 1972 and early 1973, he drilled with the Alabama Air National Guard, having moved to Montgomery, Alabama to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton M. Blount.

In October 1973, Bush was discharged from the Texas Air National Guard and transferred to inactive duty in the Air Force Reserve. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974, at the end of his six-year service obligation.

The same people who saw to it that Bush would not be drafted to serve in Vietnam would be sure to take the necessary steps to prevent Bush from being inducted through the Selective Service System despite Bush’s failure to fulfill his obligations to the United States Military. These people couldn’t care less about military discipline or national defense—their roles were to ensure that the children of Texas’ rich and powerful families remained out of harm’s way. Perhaps there were one or two members of Bush’s local draft board with a scintilla of integrity, but it only required one corrupt official to set the wheels in motion that “rehabilitated” George W. Bush.

We don’t know the precise mechanism that resulted in Bush’s being given an honorable discharge from the United States Air Reserve Forces. Certainly, when there is no accounting for an entire year of a Reservist’s service, when that Reservist has no record of any training for months at a time, and when that Reservist has refused to take not only his mandatory flight physical but the physical required of all Reservists, an “honorable discharge” should be impossible to receive.

We do know that strings were pulled, not just because there was no way that Bush deserved an honorable discharge, but also because of what happened next.

On Feb. 13, as controversy swirled around President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, the White House released more than 400 pages of documents on the press corps, proving, it claimed, that Bush had served honorably and fulfilled his commitment. The sudden rush of records, often redundant, jumbled and out of chronological order, generally left reporters baffled. From Bush's point of view, the document dump was a political success, as the controversy cooled and the paper trail ran dry.

In retrospect, it's doubtful that even White House aides understood all the information embedded in the records, specifically the payroll documents. It's also unlikely they realized how damaging the information could be when read in the proper context. Seven months later, the document dump is coming back to haunt the White House, thanks to researcher Paul Lukasiak, who has spent that time closely examining the paperwork, and more important, analyzing U.S. statutory law, Department of Defense regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures of the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, Lukasiak arrived at the overwhelming conclusion that not only did Bush walk away from his final two years of military obligation, coming dangerously close to desertion, but he attempted to cover up his absenteeism through swindle and fraud.

Lukasiak's findings, detailed on his Web site the AWOL Project, have since been bolstered and augmented by independent research by the Boston Globe and the Associated Press. On Wednesday, CBS News reported what may be among the most damaging details yet: that Bush's squadron commander, the late Col. Jerry Killian, complained he was being pressured by higher-ups to give Bush a favorable evaluation after he suspended him from flying for failure to take his annual physical exam. Titled "CYA," Killian's memo concluded, "I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job."