We were Soldiers Once?

The Bush War Record

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George W. Bush on sacrifice:
“I’ve been to war. I’ve raised twins. If I
had a choice, I’d rather go to war.”
Houston Chronicle, January 2002


Bush on commitment:
“I, George W. Bush, upon the successful completion of pilot training, plan to return to my unit and fulfill my obligation.”
Air National Guard pledge, 1968


The Guard on Bush:
“George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn’t get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed…. As far as kicks are concerned, Lt. Bush gets his from the roaring afterburner of the F-102.”
Texas Air National Guard press release, March 1970


Bush on lessons learned:
“I learned some good lessons from Vietnam. First, there must be a clear mission. Secondly, the politics ought to stay out of fighting a war. There was too much politics during the Vietnam War.”
Associated Press, March 2002

February 1968:
Bush takes an Air
Force officers test.
Scores in 25th
percentile in the pilot
aptitude portion.
Declares that he does
not wish to serve
overseas.
May 27, 1968:
Bush enlists in Texas Air National Guard. Aided by Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes, he jumps over waiting list. He pledges two years of active duty and four years of reserve duty.
June 9, 1968:
Bush’s student deferment expires.

Bush on why the Air National Guard took him:
“They could sense I would be one of the great pilots of all time.”
Houston Chronicle, August 1988

September 1968:
After basic training, Bush pulls inactive duty to act as gopher on Florida Senator Edward J. Gurney’s campaign.

November 1968:
After Gurney wins, Bush is reactivated and transferred to Georgia.

November 1969:
Bush is flown to the White House by President Nixon for a date with daughter Tricia.

December 1969:
Bush transfers to Houston and moves into Chateaux Dijon complex. Laura lives there too, but they don’t meet till later.

March 1970:
Bush gets his wings.

June 1970:
Joins the Guard’s
“Champagne Unit,” where
he flies with sons of Texas’ elite.

November 3, 1970:
George Bush Sr. loses Senate election to Lloyd Bentsen, whose son is also in the “Champagne Unit.”

November 7, 1970:
Promoted to first lieutenant. Rejected by University of Texas School of Law.

January 1971:
The Guard begins testing for drugs during physicals.

Spring 1971:
Hired by Texas agricultural importer, Bush uses F-102 to shuttle tropical plants from Florida.

May 26, 1972:
Transfers to Alabama Guard unit so he can work on Senator William Blount’s reelection campaign. According to his commanding officer, Bush never shows up for duty while in Alabama, nor can anyone confirm he ever serves in the Guard again.
August 1972:
Bush is grounded for missing a mandatory physical.

November 1972:
Bush returns to Houston, but never reports for Guard duty.

December 1972:
In D.C. for the holidays, Bush takes 16-year-old brother Marvin drinking and driving. Confronted by father, Bush suggests they settle it “mano a mano.”

October 1, 1973:
The Air National Guard relieves Bush from commitment eight months early, allowing him to attend Harvard Business School.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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