Here’s my quick transcription of one of the memoranda CBS has just posted on <$NoAd$>their website. It’s the last in the series of memos from Col. Jerry Killian, Bush’s commanding officer …
18 August 1973
Memo to File
1. Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. Iâm having trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bushâs OETR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it. Bush wasnât here during rating period and I donât have any feedback from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate. Austin is not happy today either.
2. Harris took the call from Grp today. Iâll backdate but wonât rate. Harris agrees.
Perhaps someone can unpack this for us? Who’s Harris? Who’s Hodges? Why isn’t “Austin” happy? What document is getting backdated?
Some of these questions are no doubt answered in the encyclopedic Bush AWOL project website. (Hodges, if memory serves, was above Killian in the chain of command. Where precisely, whether he was his immediate superior, I’m not sure.) But clearly there’s quite a story to tell packed in this short memo. Perhaps some intrepid journalist can explain it all for us.
Late Update: Part of the work has been done in this must-read piece by Eric Boehlert in Salon. Here’s one passage that caught my eye …
On Oct. 1, 1973, Bush received an honorable discharge from the Texas Air National Guard in order to move to Boston and attend the Harvard Business School, where he was still obligated to find a unit in Massachusetts to fulfill his remaining nine months of duty, or face being placed on active duty. Once again, Bush made no such effort. But the Air Force in Denver, acting retroactively, in effect overturned Bush’s honorable discharge and placed him on “Inactive Status” effective Sept. 15, 1973. When Bush left Texas, his personnel file was sent to Denver for review. The ARPC quickly realized Bush had failed to take a required physical exam, his Texas superior could not account for his whereabouts covering nearly a 12-month period, and due to absenteeism Bush had failed to “satisfactorily participate” as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. Bush’s “Inactive Status” meant his relationship with the Air Force (and the Guard) was severed and he was therefore eligible for the draft.
Soon afterward, large gaps began appearing in Bush’s paper trail. Lukasiak concludes that only last-minute intervention, likely from Bush’s local Houston draft board, saved him from active duty, as well as finally securing his honorable discharge, removing his “Inactive Status.” Ironically, that means strings were pulled to get Bush out of the Guard in 1973, just as they were pulled to get him enrolled in 1968.
As I said, that’s one passage that caught my eye. But it’s really worth reading the whole thing all the way through — particularly with reference to President Bush’s honorable discharge.
And, finally, let’s not miss the obvious point here. This isn’t about what President Bush did 30+ years ago. Or at least it’s not primarily about that. The issue here is that for a decade President Bush has been denying all of these things. He did so last January. He did so again as recently as last month. He’s continued to cover this stuff up right from the Oval Office.