WASHINGTON – FOX News conducted two interviews by telephone on Sept. 10, 2004, with Gary Killian, son of the late Lt. Colonel Jerry B. Killian, whose signature appears on some of the documents obtained by CBS News purporting to show that the elder Killian, squadron leader of Lt. George W. Bush in the Texas Air National Guard, complained privately of attempts to "sugarcoat" Lt. Bush's record.
The second interview, largely reprising the first, was recorded on audio. Gary Killian, a veteran himself, refused to go on camera. Lt. Col. Killian died in 1984.
Gary Killian (search) has reviewed the documents, which first surfaced on CBS' "60 Minutes" this week, and has his own PDF file of them. He said he is "very dubious" about the genuineness of the documents.
Killian said his father was "not in the habit of keeping secret files," did not maintain a home office, did not conduct any work after leaving his office for the day and did not have available to him at work the kind of typewriter that apparently was used to compose the documents in question.
A typist, Marian Carr, served the elder Killian and others in the military, and used a large electric typewriter with a rotating ball. But Killian's son said that Lt. Col. Killian, if he had any typewriter for his personal use, would have used a manual typewriter.
Moreover, the sentiments expressed in the documents, according to the younger Killian, did not reflect his father's "true feelings" about Lt. Bush.
Previously released Texas Air National Guard (search) documents signed by Lt. Col. Killian, the papers of whose authenticity is unquestioned, show he rated Lt. Bush "an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot."
One unsigned document obtained by CBS, dated August 18, 1973, and captioned "CYA," struck Killian as especially dubious.
"If he had written that, he would have signed it," Killian told FOX News of his father. He also said his father would have typed such a document himself, "hated" typing and was a "very poor" typist. "He did not type memos to himself," Killian added, saying it was "too much effort" and "very dangerous … not a good practice."
The younger Killian also said his father generally did not sign his signature without spelling out his full first name; the CBS document dated August 1, 1972, did not contain Lt. Col. Killian's full name in the signature.
Killian said the documents were not provided to CBS by anyone in his family, which includes himself, his stepmother Marjorie Connell, and two of the younger Killian's siblings, the older of whom was only in high school during the period in question.
Finally, Killian said his father told him a story in 1980 or 1981, when the two sat in an officers' club in San Antonio, Texas, about Lt. Bush having twice volunteered for duty in the Air National Guard "Palace Alert" program, under which fighter pilots in the Guard could serve a year on active duty in Vietnam.
On both occasions, the younger Killian said, Lt. Bush was turned down because he did not have more than 500 hours of flight time. Killian cited Maurice Udell, later a commander of the 147th Fighter Group, in which Lt. Bush served, and Col. Buck Staudt, later a brigadier general, as the individuals who turned Lt. Bush down.
"We have pilots with thousands of hours in the F-102," Bush was told, according to Killian. "Why would I send you?"
James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show "The Foxhole." His latest book is "A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century" (Crown Forum, October 4, 2016).