Excerpts from some recent letters to the editor. Click on the link for the full letter (some may have expired). Click here for a link to your local paper.

The White House release of pay dates does not address what job was performed or where it was performed to induce a government paycheck. Perhaps the president was "pencil whipping" his duty. Where is Air Force Form 142 (Aviation Service Audit Worksheet)? Where is the Aircrew Ground Training Requirements Record? Where are his Officer Effectiveness Reports (AF form 707)? Record of Evaluation AF form 942? There are many, many documents that can and should be produced. Those who serve and have served honorably deserve these questions be resolved.

- Thomas M. Dunipace, Colfax
Major, USAFR (retired)
Sacramento Bee 2/17/04

I am a Vietnam veteran. The recent smear campaign by fat-cat Republicans against Sen. Kerry's war record is political filth. It is an insult to all who served at that time. Kerry's record is well documented. The GOP's hypocrisy is astounding. George Bush hid in the National Guard and was AWOL from duty for a period of time. Richard Cheney shirked miliary service through a student deferment. They are attacking Kerry in the hopes of distracting voters from the president's dismal record in both foreign and domestic affairs. Shame on them!

Donald C. Adams
Tallahassee Democrat, Aug 15, 2004

John Kerry has more war medals (five) than George W. Bush and all his cabinet members combined. We have a clear choice between a war hero and an AWOL coward who would lead us into an unnecessary war.

Jenny Tosti, Troy
Detroit News, 08/11/04

The Democrats at their convention had veterans who served with Sen. John Kerry in Vietnam testify to his judgment, leadership and courage. I assume that the Republicans at their convention will bring in men who served with President Bush in the Air National Guard, to speak about his traits.

Nathan Hershey, Squirrel Hill
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 08/01/04

Call it what it is, the anti-Patriot Act. Then, after canceling it, impeach the lying deserter from the National Guard who pushed it through.

John Brant, Detroit
Detroit News, 07/21/04

"Over the past three to four years, the media have tried to get the complete records of President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. Many suspect that he skipped out on some of that time. The Bush team fought to keep those records from getting out.

The question of his records came up again, and we were told that the records were "inadvertently destroyed" some years ago ("Bush military records destroyed," July 10). Why were we not told that a few years ago?

My, my - "inadvertently destroyed." How convenient in an election year."

George Trtan, Fond du Lac
Milwaukee [WI] Journal Sentinel, 7/17/04

"...Well, I can read. In Friday's paper I read that 3,000 Louisiana National Guard members are now having to go to Iraq to risk their lives to help bail the administration out of this mess. I read that five American soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in Iraq. And I read that the Pentagon somehow inadvertently destroyed the Bush National Guard service records that would shed light on the question of whether he is lying about ever showing up in Alabama to do his service.

Mr. Goudeau might be better advised to encourage people not to read. Otherwise, more and more people will see the Bush administration for what it is: a lying bunch of incompetent bumblers. "

Harry Freeman, New Orleans
The Times-Picayune - Monday, July 12, 2004

A July 9 news article reports that the Pentagon says that payroll records that included records for President Bush's National Guard service were accidentally destroyed and that there were no backup copies.

Anyone who has served in the military, especially in the Vietnam era, knows its notorious reputation for redundant paperwork. Forms were routinely filled out in duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate. Multiple copies were then routed to multiple record centers.

Microfilm is regarded by archivists to be extremely stable and reliable....It does not deteriorate in storage and, if stored properly in metal containers, can even withstand fire.

It is certainly conjecture to suggest that the records were deliberately destroyed, but without more information, a reasonable doubt remains. Only an investigation can reveal who was responsible for the missing records.

Kerry W. Buckley, Northampton, Mass., July 9, 2004
New York Times, 07/12/04

...At the end of World War II, I served as personnel sergeant for the 13th FA Battalion of the 24th Infantry Division, so I am knowledgeable about service records. Upon completing flight school, George W. transferred to the Alabama Air National Guard, but for some reason never showed up for duty. Twenty-four hours after you fail to show up for duty you are considered AWOL (absent with out leave). He was not charged for being AWOL and court-martialed because his name was Bush. If you are AWOL 30 days or more, you are classified as a deserter. George W. was missing for almost five months, but was never charged or court-martialed because his name was Bush. He was then allowed to terminate his National Guard enlistment five months early so that he could go to graduate school, and to my knowledge became the only deserter in our history to get an honorable discharge from the National Guard because his name was Bush.

The height of hypocrisy recently was a draft dodger/deserter giving the key address at the opening of the World War II Memorial. Not to mention the fact that he has raised the cost of medical care by CO pay for veterans by 350 percent and has drastically cut VA benefits. For any veteran to vote for George W., they have to turn their back on all those who gave their lives in battle for their country and ignore the millions of our citizens who served our country with honor and were given an honorable discharge for their faithful service.

The Southern Illinoisan, IL - July 08 2004

"That you would give credence to whining right-wing malcontents calling themselves Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ["Mekong myths," June 18] proves your radical Republic Party Bias. (As members of your ilk disdainfully refer to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat" Party, I refer to yours as the "Republic" Party.)

The fact remains that John Kerry actually fought in Vietnam; and the Navy, in its wisdom, awarded him the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts.

I guess the "Swifties" know better than the Navy. Their assertion that Kerry somehow fooled the Navy is hardly worthy of belief and does not deserve such attention.

Moreover, if you have editorialized about Bush's avoidance of service in the theater of war, failure to report for duty as required, relinquishment of his flight status for which the government spent thousands for his training and the National Guard condoned without explanation, lack of military decorations or awards, and early release, I certainly have not seen it. Why is that?"

David L. Terzian, Fredericksburg
The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg VA, 6/23/2004

Larry A. Smith's May 20 letter, "Kerry insulted Vietnam veterans" completely misrepresents Kerry's war record and the man himself.

Smith dismissively mentions that Kerry served, but he fails to mention just what he accomplished there. John Kerry served with distinction and valor; was praised by his commanding officers for his leadership and heart and put himself on the line to save the lives of his fellow soldiers on several occasions.

During his two tours of duty in Vietnam, Kerry won the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple hearts for being wounded three times in service to his country. Smith makes the case that Kerry "rode the wave of anti-war activism to launch his political career."

The truth is, John Kerry saw something wrong within his country, and made a commitment to do what he could to serve it even after the war. The contention that he rode anti-war sentiment into office is inaccurate. John Kerry lost his first two congressional bids because of the moral stand he took on the Vietnam War, when could have easily campaigned as the "war hero" that he was.

John Kerry's opponent this November never sacrificed for his country. While Kerry signed up for Vietnam, Bush's father had him bumped to the top of the National Guard waiting list. While Kerry's commander was praising him for his leadership and fortitude, Bush's commander in the guard couldn't recall him even showing up.

Kyle Roush, Corvallis
Corvallis Gazette Times, OR 5/26/04

"...I mean, with a military record like President Bush's (he was in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War and went MIA -- Missing In Alabama -- during part of his service) you would imagine he'd think twice before attacking a decorated veteran.

Not at all. He apparently subscribes to the theory that if you say something often enough and loudly enough, people will believe it.

Mr. Bush seldom stoops to make a direct attack himself but he has sent his minions out to stoop for him. Bush surrogates have accused Kerry of exaggerating the wounds that won him three Purple Hearts, of faking his anti-war gesture of throwing away his medals and of being soft on Jane Fonda. Perhaps worst of all, Dick Cheney has questioned Kerry's judgment.

Dick Cheney! This from the man who, more than any other, thrust the Iraq War on the president and continues to insist that there are Weapons of Mass Destruction out there somewhere. Having Dick Cheney question your judgment is like being called weird by Michael Jackson."

Don Kaul, The Topeka Capital-Journal, 05/10/04

I would never question the patriotism of anyone that put his life on the line for his country, but I would question the patriotism of those who would deliberately lie to smear such a man for purely political purposes. Remember, while Kerry fought bravely in Vietnam, President Bush was AWOL from the Air National Guard and Vice President Cheney was using multiple deferments to avoid military service because "I had other priorities." If these men were Democrats, the Republicans would be calling them "draft dodgers."

If President Bush truly believes that he should be returned to office in November, then why doesn't he run on his own record rather than trying to misrepresent and distort his opponents? I think we all know the answer to that one, don't we?

Rick Benfield, Apple Valley
Desert Dispatch, Barstow CA 5/9/04

In Ohio recently, President George W. Bush said about the hostilities in Iraq, "They're watching to see whether we cut and run or whether we're good for our word. They don't have to worry about me." This comes from the same man who could not be bothered to show up for National Guard duty while his fellow Americans, including John Kerry, were off fighting in Vietnam. Bush's associates are attacking Kerry for being unpatriotic by throwing away his ribbons. They are saying that he did not get wounded enough to deserve one of the three Purple Hearts he received.

The price we pay in war goes beyond dead and wounded. Our moral compass has strayed for us to say that it is acceptable to kill other humans in their own country for a cause that we cannot even defend to our own people, much less the rest of the world, without lies and exaggerations. George W. Bush talks about staying the course. John Kerry showed it on a boat in the Mekong River.

Andrew Gorell, Brooklyn
Newsday, Long Island NY, May 8, 2004

Isn't it amazing how so many people can remember everything about Jane Fonda and Ted Kennedy, but nobody can remember where George Bush was during the Alabama period of his Air National Guard service? Fox News questions the patriotism of decorated combat veteran John Kerry but doesn't mention Dick Cheney's lack of military service.

Hypocrisy should never be allowed to masquerade as patriotism.

Clay McIntosh, Tulsa
Tulsa World, May 3, 2004

The Bushies are demanding records about Sen. John Kerry's Purple Heart. They apparently don't know that when brave military men get wounded by enemy action, they get a Purple Heart.

Of course we know George W. Bush wouldn't know that because he was so scared he went AWOL from the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. He did the same thing during the Sept. 11 attacks, when he hid for several hours in a bunker just when the country really needed a leader.

And this man is our commander in chief? God help us!

Register-Guard, Eugene Oregon 5/1/04

What can one year during the Vietnam War mean?

For John Kerry it meant three Purple Heart medals, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. In one year.

For George Bush, during that same year it appears he was AWOL from his cushy Air National Guard assignment.

Many people have come forward with personal knowledge of Sen. Kerry's courage under fire, showing his medals were awarded correctly. There are medical records proving his worthiness to receive his Purple Heart.

President Bush has no proof that he served the year he "transferred" to Alabama.

At the end of his year Sen. Kerry was allowed to go home early, with honor.

There is no proof that Mr. Bush ever finished his tour of duty.

This would be history, except for the fact that Mr. Bush and his bunch of draft dodgers, including his vice president and secretary of defense, are trying once again to smear a true hero just as they did to Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary and Georgia Sen. Max Cleland in his re-election bid.

Mr. Cleland lost two legs and an arm defending our country in Vietnam and was one of the people most responsible for the Democratic security plan that Bush's people fought passage of until Sept. 11, when they renamed it the "Patriot Act" and claimed credit for it. Bush and his people claimed Sen. Cleland "did not care about the security of America." That's sick.

I am tired of these slimy tactics. It is time to clean up the government. Let's make this George Bush a one-term president, just like his dad.

David Penn, Monona
Madison [WI] Capital Times, Apr 29, 2004

I find it amazing that the two chicken hawks who led our country into the Iraq fiasco on flimsy - if not out-and-out fabricated - evidence now have the audacity to question John Kerry's Vietnam service record. Perhaps when The Post prints comments from Dick Cheney attacking Kerry's Vietnam credentials, it ought to remind readers that Cheney had, in his own words, 'other priorities' that kept him from serving in that conflict. And that for many, the case is far from closed on just what President Bush was doing in 1972 after he had been grounded for failing to take a mandatory Air National Guard physical.

The unmitigated gall of the Bush/Cheney campaign is indeed astounding. The willingness of The Post to blindly play along is inexcusable.

Denver Post, Apr 29, 2004

Republican Rep. John Kline attacks Sen. John Kerry's antiwar protests after returning from fighting in Vietnam (Star Tribune, April 25). But he didn't express his opinion on President Bush going AWOL from his Air National Guard unit or Sen. Norm Coleman's antiwar activities (marching and burning draft cards) while at Hofstra University?

Why doesn't he have an opinion on those people's activities?

James Cummings, Nisswa, Minn.
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Apr 27, 2004

"...Is it possible that George W. Bush's university degrees were earned the same way that he completed his National Guard service? Did his daddy's money and powerful connections help son George get his degrees without completing the requirements that are expected of those who are not well-connected?"

Boston Globe April 25, 2004

"...Bush has never participated in any military action. Kerry, however, bravely served his country in Vietnam, being awarded no less than three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for Valor.

The Alabama National Guard, meanwhile, was looking for Bush who was believed AWOL.

Yes, we do have a choice in the fall – between a coward and a decorated all-American hero who is more like Churchill than Bush will ever hope to be.

Brian Wardhaugh, La Mesa
San Diego Union-Tribune, 04/11/04

"...Unlike the Texas unit, outside influence did not dictate who got into my unit. President Bush's father has said he did not contact high-ranking guard officers to get his son into a unit. He said he did use his influence by having others make the contact to get his son into the unit, bypassing the waiting list.

Air National Guard members are troubled by why Bush was removed from flying status for failure to take a physical. The government spent more than $500,000 for him to get his wings and qualify as a fighter pilot. A unit's combat rating is based on having trained, qualified pilots.

Sefton would have never tolerated a junior officer just walking away from his commitment. "

Journal - Gazette, Ft. Wayne IN, Apr 8, 2004

"President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) served on active duty in the U.S. Navy during World War II and Sen. John Forbes Kerry (JFK) served his active military duty as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam and was wounded in action. Both these men were from families of wealth, but they were responsible Americans who did their duty.

U.S. Air National Guard pilot George W. Bush did some fancy dancing with his military duty by getting transfers and an early out to attend university business school. He hid from Vietnam War action by being in the former stay-at-home Air National Guard.

Mr. Ferguson, has President George W. Bush earned the salute given to the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces? "

Pittsburgh Post - Gazette - Apr 8, 2004

"...Just as he disappeared during his stint as a Texas Air National Guardsman, Bush went AWOL as a commander-in-chief. On Aug. 6, 2001, Dubya was warned of a “spectacular attack” by Al Qaeda. What did our great leader do with this knowledge? He continued on with his month-long vacation at his Texas ranch.

On Sept. 11, Bush was nowhere near Washington, D.C. or New York City. He was in a Florida classroom, reading to kindergartners. After the second plane hit the Twin Towers, Bush stayed in the classroom for another 20 minutes, reading and acting up with the kids. That’s right — while American burned, Bush twiddled..."

Greg Colburn, Hanover
York [PA] Daily Record - March 31, 2004

"Another year away from home. Our family hero is Timothy of the National Guard, who is on his way to Iraq. He has been called up for the third time. He has already served a year in Bosnia and 1˝ years as an airport security guard. Now as a "combat veteran" he is reactivated again...

Here's a suggestion: insist the "War President," in order to fulfill his National Guard obligations, don his flight suit, fly into the Tikrit area and check out a Hummer. As he drives through the Iraqi highway system, unescorted, he can declare "mission accomplished." If he makes it back safely, then he can compete for a second rotation as a combat veteran.

Tim serves willingly and proudly. We think the president is overdue fulfilling his Guard obligations. Let him "enjoy" overseas duty in a hostile environment. "

Alex and Sybil Tennant, Bradenton
Bradenton Herald, 3/24/04

"President Bush denies he went AWOL from the Alabama National Guard, but even he admits that he failed to show up for his 1972 annual National Guard physical, and consequently was banned from flying.

People need to demand that Bush explain why he didn't do his duty and show up for that physical. Is it because the physical had a drug test? Or was he just too lazy? And why wasn't he punished for being AWOL from his physical?

The taxpayers paid a fortune to train him to fly jets, and then he just refuses to show up for his physical. What the hell kind of way is that to act?

Even after all these years, the voters deserve some sort of explanation for his shiftless behavior."

Douglas Sczygelski, Lincoln
Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln, Neb., Mar 12, 2004

"I served in the same National Guard unit in Longview from 1964 to 1970 and have no trouble recalling events connected with that time. Virtually every member was required to attend all drills, unless specifically excused, or the drills were made up.

There was a drill scheduled the weekend of the birth of my second child and, when I asked to be excused, I was told that my presence was required and no excuse was acceptable. I asked to make up a Thursday evening drill in advance, to attend a special theatre function, was granted permission and on that evening was escorted from the theatre to the National Guard Armory by none other than Van Tongeren.

During the course of my service, I missed no drills and there were members of our unit sent to active duty for missing drills. The six-year commitment to the Guard was just that, a 6-year commitment, and those who failed to fulfill their obligation were classified as AWOL and dealt with according to established procedures.

President Bush's whole service time is typical of his life of privilege and special treatment for one of the "aristocracy of wealth" in this country. I guess some folks are just a little more equal than others."

Tim Strom, Vancouver
Buzzflash.Com Reader Contribution, 3/19/04

"...I am personally insulted that he would equate Bush and Kerry's war experience. As a pilot who flew 35 missions over Europe in World War II, I feel they do not equate.

We all knew that the National Guard was a way to avoid combat. That is why young people with connections joined. The National Guard Air Wing was a place where members got the best treatment and there were waiting lists for the slots.

That Bush was denied combat duty because he was not qualified in a newer model is malarkey. Pilots were always moving up to newer models as they became available. Either you were told to go practice in the new plane or you were given catch-up sessions in a few hours. Bush did not serve, he hid!

Monroe B. Guisbond, Syracuse
Syracuse Post-Standard, 3/17/04

"...The fact is, the only person with recollections of serving with Bush during the disputed period when he was reassigned to the Alabama Air National Guard is John B. Calhoun, whose name was provided by a Republican ally of Bush.

Calhoun said he saw Bush sign-in for duty eight to 10 times for about eight hours each from May to October 1972. However, the White House acknowledges that Bush did not even begin performing Guard duty in Alabama until October 1972. The White House still is at a loss to reconcile the discrepancy. "

Albany Times-Union, 03/15/04

"Robert J. Lynn asserts in his March 8 letter that President Bush's flying jets for the National Guard was not an "easy out." Flying F-102's for the Air National Guard is indeed honorable, but that's beside the point.


Mr. Lynn dismisses a preponderance of evidence indicating that Bush skipped his physical and last year of duty by seeking to discredit the Web site awolbush.com, but all the assertions there are meticulously documented with references to mainstream media stories and publicly available photo copies of pertinent documents. I would encourage anyone who still thinks our President is honorable to check it out."

Albany Times-Union 03/14/04

"...During my 35-year Department of Defense career, I knew many of the wonderful men and women who risked their lives to fly for our country. One of their worst fears was to be grounded and not able to fly. I've seen pilots "game the system" to avoid failing their flight physicals, so great was their desire to continue flying. Our current president is a disgrace to all these brave men and women..."

Dianne Taylor, Poquoson
Hampton, VA Daily Press 3/10/04

"Whether President Bush completed his National Guard service in Alabama or not is still up in the air. I wonder if anyone is asking an equally important question: Did Bush fulfill his duties as a National Guard pilot?

Training as a U.S. Air Force pilot incurs a commitment of time. In that era, several hundred other young officers and I took the same Air Force pilot training course that the president took. It cost about a quarter of a million U.S. taxpayer dollars to put one of us through that course. In the 1960s it incurred a four- to five-year commitment to serve as a pilot. If, after completing pilot training, I had approached my squadron commander and said, "I am not going to take any more flight physicals or fly any more Air Force airplanes," he would have arranged a nice court marshal for me for disobeying orders.

So how did Bush get away with quitting? I don't believe it was an option."

Victor A. Shumaker, Williamsburg
Hampton, VA Daily Press 3/10/04

"I didn't serve my country in the military, so of course I couldn't consider myself a veteran. But George Bush has made me realize that maybe I did serve, and have simply forgotten the names of my service buddies, the dates, and the number of months I served in any given location. I may be a veteran after all, an absent-minded one who happened to serve under absent-minded commanders. If you're a vet, think back to your own time in service. Isn't it impossible to remember where you served, or who you served with? Of course it is. So you can sympathize with someone's confusion on the matter...

I hope you believe me. I'm increasingly certain I served with great distinction, in the same branch Bush did, in fact. The one that doesn't keep records. There are lots of branches like that. Honest."

JACK GRIFFIN, Eagle Bridge
Albany Times-Union, 02/22/04

"...As a member of the military, Mr. Boriskie would be well served by spending less time "recovering" from the Clinton years and more time examining how shabbily the current administration treats veterans and active-duty soldiers.

He may also want to study the well-documented allegations of George W. Bush's extended absence without leave during his stint in the National Guard."

Bob Dunn, River Ridge
The Times-Picayune, 1/27/04

"I'm not sure which aspect of the Jan. 18 Style article "The Strong, Silent Type" offended me more, Vice President Cheney's fascination with military history when he himself avoided service during Vietnam, or your reporter's failure to point out this irony. "

Tracey A. Johnstone, Chevy Chase
Washington Post, 1/24/03

"In any event, I would vote for the rotting carcass of a dead rat before I vote for the Texas AWOL."

(A Reservist recently returned from Iraq; name withheld)
Altercation, 1/23/04

"Back in the 1960s and '70s, if you were a politically unconnected enlisted man who went AWOL for 30 days, you were re- classified and referred to officially as a deserter. You also made it to the FBI's arrest list.

Apparently, however, if you were a politically connected aviator and went AWOL for eight months, you were re-classified and in later years referred to as "Mr. President." And, the FBI jumps through hoops for your every whim. "

James Prescott, Schaumburg
Daily Herald - Cook Edition, Arlington Heights IL, Jan 23, 2004

"...Our servicemen and servicewomen swear an oath to serve the United States of America with their lives if necessary. It takes honor, strength of character and real courage to live up to that oath - to put country and duty even before their families and their own children.

But George W. Bush went AWOL on his sworn oath to serve his country.Without question, the men and women serving in the United States military have far more honor, character and courage than the conniving silver spoon who created this baseless, unjustified war and needlessly sends them into harm's way."

William I. Adams, Batavia
Daily Herald, Arlington Heights IL, Jan 19, 2004

"In answer to Skip Hillman's letter of Jan. 8: I must say the first paragraph gave me one of the best laughs I've had in a long time. I find that 90 percent of the men I talk to and feel as you do either were never in the service or never served in a war.

We are in Iraq because Bush lied. Clinton told a personal lie that caused no physical damage or deaths to anyone and they wanted to impeach him. Bush has killed many of our young people and many children will never know a father.

You speak of the Vietnam War and the cowards who refused to go. Tell me, Skip, when were you in the service? What branch? Where did you serve? You speak of Bush's guts. He went AWOL when it was his time to serve. He got no jail time as I would have gotten. Money talks. If you don't know from actual experience how it feels to live like an animal and fear for your life every day, then don't you approve of it. It is a hideous way of life..."

Al Oldakowski, Korean War veteran, Taylorville
State Journal Register, Springfield IL, Jan 13, 2004

"It was nice seeing Captain George AWOL visiting wounded troops at Walter Reed hospital. Everyone there has shown more courage, honor, character and responsibility than their commander in chief. It's a wonder that Captain AWOL isn't struck by lightning every time he gets near one of our dedicated soldiers."

Raleigh Sutton, Elgin
Daily Herald [Cook Edition], Arlington Heights IL, Dec 21, 2003

"Apparently, Christopher Skeet ("Why no mention of Hillary's photo- op?" Fence Post, Dec. 15) is better able to accuse people than seek out the facts. After examining Howard Dean, Army medics gave him a 1- Y medical deferment. They did not allow him to serve in Vietnam but would have called him up in the case of a national emergency.

As all this was completely aboveboard, there was no problem with Dean going skiing or doing anything else he wished to.

This seems far preferable to the situation George W. Bush created for himself. Having gone AWOL, Bush not only could not go skiing, he had to lie really low for the duration of his "service."

I will support Howard Dean any day over George W. Bush."

Lali Watt, Wilmette
Daily Herald [Cook Edition], Arlington Heights IL, Dec 21, 2003

"...If George likes landing on aircraft carriers and going to war zones, why didn't he go into the service during the Vietnam War? Instead, he chose the Air National Guard, from which he was AWOL for about a year.

I hope his dad or one of his girls buy him a G.I. Joe doll or a toy tank for Christmas so he will have something to play with. "

C.J. "Smoke" Whetsell, Elkins
The Charleston [WV] Gazette, Dec 19, 2003

"...Dubya had the opportunity to be a real soldier during the Vietnam era. As Dodson fittingly points out, he "served" in the Texas Air National Guard, but for a large segment of that time his whereabouts and activities were unaccounted for. (No press involved that time.) Where I come from this is called AWOL, an act that usually causes problems for the soldier involved. I do not understand why this point is so overlooked. Bill Clinton could only hope to get off half as easy on his 'adventures.'"

Ann Steiner, Springfield
State Journal Register, Springfield IL, Dec 14, 2003

"...We must also be glad that our forces in Iraq are serving our country differently than our own commander-in-chief did during his time in the National Guard, when he frequently didn't report for duty.

Otherwise, Saddam Hussein would have thrown his surrender party and no Americans would have been there to celebrate.

God bless our troops. Thanks for showing up for work."

David Kennedy, Titusville
Florida Today, 12/16/03

"Recently I read about the military service, or lack thereof, of several people running for president. No mention was made of our president being AWOL from his National Guard unit in Alabama for approximately a year. When our president wore a flight suit to declare an end to hostilities in Iraq, he dishonored every member of the military who has ever served or given their life for our country.

Coincidentally, our vice president, when asked why he did not serve in Vietnam, stated he had "other priorities." I would say to Mr. Cheney: The noble men who served and died in Vietnam had other priorities, too. But instead of being cowards, they faced the risk head-on and served their country with honor. Mr. Cheney did not."

Paul Davis, Camillus
Syracuse Post-Standard, 12/15/03

"...As a Vietnam veteran, Sen. Kerry served this country, was wounded and received medals for his actions. If anyone knows and understands war, it is John Kerry. It is certainly not George W. Bush. Where was he during Vietnam? Hiding in Texas somewhere in the National Guard. In fact, not even he remembers. Isn't that a coincidence?

It always amazes me how Republicans and conservatives go ballistic every time someone criticizes "their" president. They cannot stand it whenever the shoe is on the other foot."

Paul L. Passante, Wilmington
Star - News, Wilmington NC, Dec 15, 2003

"It is ironic and indeed shameful that George W. Bush, who had his father pull strings to get him in the Texas Air National Guard to keep him away from the fighting in Vietnam and who did not even have the decency to serve out his final year, now puts on military gear and struts around with real soldiers in a war-torn country as if he was anything other than a child of wealth and privilege.

Such grandstanding is an insult to the poor and working-class families who have sent their sons and daughters to fight this rich man’s oil war."

James Falbush, Findlay
Toledo Blade, 12/10/03

"Boy, am I tired of hearing about George W. Bush's sterling character. He was born into wealth and never had to go without. An alcohol and drug arrest "magically disappeared." A year of being AWOL from the National Guard was "magically dismissed." He was gifted with the Texas Rangers. He was bestowed the governorship of Texas and stole the election for president.

Since then, he has made an all-out assault on the most vulnerable members of our society to benefit the most powerful.

I ask again, what character?

John November, Mount Prospect
Daily Herald, Arlington Heights IL, Dec 10, 2003

"...Bush was finally forced to admit that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, but then immediately turned to the lie that this is part of the war on terrorism. There is still no provable connection between Hussein and terrorism.

All evidence indicates this war was politically motivated. For sending U.S. soldiers to their death for political gain in an unnecessary war, I consider Bush a murderer. If you accept the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war, then the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was fully justified. Bush, our supreme commander, was AWOL during much of his own military service..."

Muncie, Indiana December 6, 2003

"...Sen. Clinton made a situation-assessing trip at about the same time. By going outside the base to meet with Iraqi factions, she displayed more courage and more attention to doing her job than he did.

"Bring 'em on" indeed - what crap. Let us hope his timidity doesn't encourage the Iraqis to intensify their resistance.

But what else would you expect from this Bush-league president who used his political connections to escape going to Vietnam - and then couldn't even meet his ensuing obligations to the Texas Air National Guard - going AWOL after a few years and getting kicked out."

Sid Neff, Billings
The Billings [MT] Gazette 12/6/2003

"Not every soldier was fooled by the President's "surprise" visit to Baghdad for Thanksgiving. Those of us older enlisted men see it for what it really was, a cheap ploy to boost sagging approval ratings amongst us who serve with honor.

Why is it that the President did not care enough to visit the troops on the previous two Thanksgiving holidays, when he had high approval ratings amongst both the troops and the public? Instead, he stayed at the ranch in Crawford. Sort of like he stayed in Texas and Alabama, where he was AWOL for a year from the Air National Guard, during the Vietnam War, while others such as Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John McCain, former Sen. Max Cleland, and yes, even Al Gore served in combat..."

L. Brock Bennington, Staff Sergeant, National Guard
The Chattanoogan, TN, 12/5/2003

"...In 2 1/2 hours in Iraq, the president showed us a lot of ham and one big turkey.

George W. Bush probably spent almost as much time on this trip as he did serving with his National Guard unit during the Vietnam War.

It's fair to ask how much U.S. taxpayers paid for this footage of Bush's '04 campaign commercials. The May 1 "mission accomplished" pictures might not be useful.

And which of those wonderful, warm uniformed servicemen and women seen having their photos taken with the president will come home before next Thanksgiving in body bags?

Frances R. Besmer, Kent
Hartford Courant, 12/03/03

"It was really disgusting to see the deserter George Bush in the midst of true heroes, holding a platter with another turkey on it."

Gil Williams, Spring Hill
Tampa Tribune, Dec 2, 2003

"...My instinctive understanding that aggressive wars are morally wrong is shared by the bulk of Americans.

The valiant men and women whose funerals have been ignored by President Bush might not have cheered as loudly as the 600 "volunteers" for Bush's upcoming campaign ad.

I wonder how many Thanksgiving dinners Lt. Bush attended at home in Texas while he was AWOL and others of his generation were dying in Vietnam."

Audrey J. Aabey, River Grove
Chicago Sun - Times, Dec 1, 2003

"GEORGE WASHINGTON was a real leader of troops. His presence at the battles of Trenton and Brandywine was a great inspiration to the men. George W. Bush, the first ever AWOL president to don a uniform, flies into a secure airport to serve a few spoonfuls of C- rations and considers it a heroic action. The man is a joke as a leader but great with public relations. "

Willard Cottrell, Burnsville, N.C.
Boston Globe, Dec 1, 2003

"That Bush essentially went AWOL for an entire year from the Air National Guard surely should be mentioned in an article comparing the relative electability of Democratic candidates' war records."

Michael Haas, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Times, 11/25/03

"We are told that the GOP is the party more trusted for national security and the political home of military personnel and families.

Let's see, we have a cadre of draft evaders led by a National Guardsman who forgot to return from leave during wartime. They led us into a war based on fraud, destroyed an undercover network in retaliation for criticism, tried to eliminate hazard pay and reduce medical benefits to veterans, and resist allowing veterans to buy into military medical insurance plans. ..."

Joanna Ljovshin, Waterford
Detroit Free Press, 11/11/03

"President Bush should have finished this work and caught Osama bin Laden before starting the war in Iraq. Iraq was not an imminent threat. He has completely changed our foreign policy and I feel not for the better.

I'm wondering if President Bush had seen active duty in Vietnam if he would have been so quick to send our troops to Iraq. He was AWOL for a year from flight school in the National Guard. He returned from a weekend pass and refused an alcohol test when they didn't think he was fit to fly. They sent him to Alabama and he never showed up."

Mildred Graeser, Muskogee
Tulsa World - Nov 9, 2003

"...In his early business days, our hero bilked some investors out of some money but did nothing, strictly speaking, illegal. What is more American than that? He managed to be AWOL for more than a year without getting into any legal trouble. If that is not evidence of presidential or CEO material, I don't know what is..."

Edward J. Herdrich, Elgin
Fence Post, Daily Herald, Arlington Heights IL, Oct 25, 2003

"President Bush believes the national news media are filtering news about Iraq. He wants the general public to get the same unfiltered "good news" he gets from such "objective sources" as his advisers.

Would these be the same advisers who neglected to filter blatantly false information from his State of the Union Address? The same advisers who claimed to know the status and locations of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? The same advisers who cannot tell a rocket tube from a centrifuge tube? The same advisers who predicted a nation of cheering flower hurlers would welcome our troops? The same advisers who put a former part-time Vietnam-era pilot of obsolete fighter jets, whose yearlong AWOL stint has yet to be satisfactorily explained, in a flight suit and paraded him in front of genuine, active-duty, wartime troops on an aircraft carrier?"

Robert Hammer, Salt Lake City
The Salt Lake Tribune, 10/22/03

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