Published September 29, 2004
WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) never was disciplined while serving in the Texas Air National Guard (search), never failed a physical and never asked his father or family friends for help to get him into the Guard during the Vietnam War (search), the White House said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday night produced a newly unearthed document on Bush's Guard service, seven months after it said all materials on the subject had been publicly released.
The new document was a copy of Bush's resignation in 1974 declaring he was leaving the Guard because of "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments." White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the resignation was found in connection with a lawsuit brought by The Associated Press.
The White House answers earlier in the day came in response to a dozen questions submitted by the AP in light of new records detailing Bush's Guard service and allegations that have surfaced this election season.
The Texas Air National Guard stripped Bush of his pilot status in August 1972 for failing to take the annual medical exam required of all pilots. Former Air National Guard officials say it was rare for a pilot to skip his physical exam.
AP asked whether Bush ever participated in a disciplinary process during his Guard service, whether he ever received a critical report or was ever present for a conversation in which his performance, conduct or physical condition were raised by a superior officer.
"No and this is clear from the president's records, which have been made public," the White House said in an e-mail response.
"No," the White House replied when asked whether Bush ever failed a medical exam in the Guard or had a medical problem that would have temporarily or permanently disqualified him from flying.
"All of these questions have been asked and answered repeatedly over the years," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.
The AP filed lawsuits in federal court and state court in Texas seeking any additional records of Bush's Guard service, prompting the release in the last few months of several new records about Bush's Guard service.
Among the belatedly disclosed records was Bush's official flight logs as a fighter pilot, showing he logged more than 300 hours in military jets, flying a two-seat training jet in his final months as a pilot in the spring of 1972, as well as an F-102A supersonic fighter jet which he had flown almost exclusively for several years.
In its written answers to AP's questions, the White House said, "There could be many reasons why an individual pilot would fly in a training plane, including availability of the planes." The White House noted that in the final month of his flying, April 1972, Bush used the F-102 "almost every flight."
The White House said Bush fulfilled his Guard duty completely, even after ending his pilot's career to go to Alabama to work on a political campaign. Bush believed he was going to work in a "non-flight capacity" in Alabama and fulfilled his commitment doing administrative tasks, the White House said.
"The president's written evaluations demonstrate a good record as a pilot; the pay and points records demonstrate his complete fulfillment of his obligations; and the records demonstrate that he followed the proper procedures and worked through the chain of command to receive approval to perform equivalent duty in Alabama," the White House said.
The answers also addressed why Bush skipped a required physical in the summer of 1972, prompting the termination of his pilot status. "The president was transferring to Alabama to perform equivalent duty in a non-flying capacity, making a flight physical unnecessary," the White House said.
Air Force regulations in 1972 required Bush's Texas commanders to "direct an investigation as to why the individual failed to accomplish the medical examination." An investigative report was supposed to be forwarded "with the command recommendation" to Air Force officials "for final determination." The regulations also said a board of inquiry could be appointed to investigate why a pilot did not take an annual flight physical. There is no record of a report or a board of inquiry in Bush's case.
Bush's Vietnam service has been made an issue since 1994 by his Democratic opponents, who allege the president received favored treatment in getting into the Texas Air National Guard. A letter recently released by the Pentagon shows Bush's father, then a congressman, wrote a military commander to thank him for taking special interest in his son during basic training.
The White House said, "The president did not ask his father or family friends for assistance" in getting into the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War."