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Why Did Bush Quit Flying

February 10, 2004

Why Did Bush Quit Flying? And why won’t the Media Focus on It?
In all the stories written to date about Bush’s National Guard Service, few, if any, have focused on the undisputed record of the National Guard’s suspending Bush from flying obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
That the Texas Air National Guard grounded young George W. Bush — a fairly severe discipline — for “[f]ailure to accomplish annual military examination” has gotten little attention in a media more intent on finding out whether Bush was paid in the last half of 1972. Yet this little-exposed document is the key to understanding exactly what happened to Bush during the two years he decided to quit flying for the National Guard.

When Bush signed up in 1968 for six years service in the National Guard, Bush requested training as a pilot. By all accounts, Bush did his duty in the first four of his six years of obligated service.
Yet Bush has never explained why he gave up his wings with two years left in his service, rendering him practically useless to the Guard. In the Air Guard, everyone is designated a specific duty — some are trained to be pilots, others mechanics, others cooks — and Bush was trained exclusively to be a pilot of the F-102 at a cost of about $750,000 to taxpayers.
According to FOIA documents, nine days after Bush “cleared this base”on May 15, 1972, he applied for a transfer to Alabama. But Bush’s request was denied a week later because Bush was required to serve as a pilot in the “Ready Reserve”until May 1974 and was therefore “ineligible for assignment”to a squadron in Alabama that had no pilots.
Bush went to Alabama anyway (without leave), and at this point, the critical document shown above comes into play. Every year, airmen in the guard were required to submit to a medical examination on or before their birthdays, a physical that, from April 1972 forward, included a random drug test. Bush missed or failed this physical in July 1972. Although Bush has never stated why he failed to accomplish the simple physical, he has hinted at the answer, saying that he will not disclose any illegal drug use prior to 1974.
But whatever the reason for refusing or failing the physical, Bush’s flight suspension does clarify the other documents in his record and explains why the Texas Air Guard was so lax at making sure he fulfilled requirements after August 1972. Simply put, with Bush refusing to serve as a pilot — and with his having no other training as an officer, a cook, or anything else, for that matter — Bush was quite literally of no use to the Texas Air Guard. No wonder they let him out of his commitment eight months early to go to Business School.
So where was Bush from May 1972 to October 1973? During that time, the documents show Bush was assigned to the Air Reserve Force, the ignominious “ARF,”a probationary “paper unit”where Bush could put in time doing useless things that the National Guard did not care about. Maybe Bush filed some papers; maybe he served as a cook. Most probably he got “gratuitous”credits for doing nothing at all. This would explain why no one remembers his service after May 1972: he was not flying.
The point is that George W. Bush made a choice in the summer of 1972 to forego the annual physical he had taken every year before — a choice he and every airman knew would ground him as a pilot, despite his obligation to serve two more years. And the National Guard decided it simply had no use for a trained pilot who refused to fly. Their only choice was to strictly discipline this poster-boy son of a Congressman and grandson of a Senator or to quietly let him go with a honorable discharge. They chose the latter option.
And the records of this choice have still not been revealed because Bush, contrary to his promise to Tim Russert, continues to withhold his health and disciplinary records from the Texas Air National Guard.
For my detailed written report, complete with documents, detailing the facts of Bush’s missed service in the National Guard, click here.

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