Evelyn Pringle August 12, 2004
The latest smear on Kerry's war record comes from a group who call themselves, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." In response to their attacks my new group, Citizens For Honest Fighter Pilots, comes forth to tell voters what vets who served with Bush have to say about him.
Bush claims he attended drills at the Dannelly Base in Alabama. During the 2000 campaign he said, "I was there on a temporary assignment and fulfilled my weekends at one period of time," he said. "I made up some missed weekends." "I can't remember what I did, but I wasn't flying because they didn't have the same airplanes. I fulfilled my obligations."
The official records don't support his claims, they show a Sep 15, 1972, direct order for Bush to report for duty at Dannelly, "Lt Bush should report to Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, DCO, to perform equivalent training," on "7-8 October, and 4-5 November. He never showed up.
Retired General William Turnipseed, and his administrative officer, say Bush was not there. ''Had he reported in, I would have had some recall, and I do not,'' Turnipseed said, "I had been in Texas, done my flight training there. If we had a 1st Lt from Texas, I would have remembered."
But Bush keeps on saying he was there. When asked about Turnipseed's statements, he said, "I read the comments from the guy who said he doesn't remember me being there, but I remember being there."
If his memory is so good, then why can't he recall a single name out of the 700 men he served with? And why hasn't a single guy come forward to say he served with Bush?
Bush's superiors in Texas thought he was in Alabama. His yearly evaluation says, "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report," and a "civilian occupation made it necessary for him to move to Montgomery, Alabama. He cleared this base on 15 May 1972 and has been performing equivalent training in a non flying status with the 187 Tac Recon Gp, Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama."
He wasn't in Texas and he wasn't in Alabama. So where was he?
We've heard from the Honest Vets, so Citizens For Honest Fighter Pilots thinks voters should hear what Bush's fellow fighter pilots had to say about serving with him.
On Feb 13, 2004, the Memphis Flyer published interviews with 2 guardsmen from the Alabama unit where Bush says he served in 1972. Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop attended regular drills and are both absolutely certain that Bush never showed up for duty.
Mintz told the reporter, "I remember that I heard someone was coming to drill with us from Texas. And it was implied that it was somebody with political influence. I was a young bachelor then. I was looking for somebody to prowl around with."
When he didn't show, Mintz thought Bush had "changed his mind and went somewhere else" to do his duty. No so, in campaign 2000, Bush was referring to Mintz's unit, and he's sticking to the same story in 2004.
Mintz spoke of his "negative reaction" to Bush's dishonesty. "You don't do that as an officer, you don't do that as a pilot, you don't do it as an important person, and you don't do it as a citizen. This guy's got a lot of nerve," he said.
Mintz says there were only 25 or 30 pilots on base, "There's no doubt. I would have heard of him, seen him, whatever," he said. "And if he did any flying at all, on whatever kind of craft, that would have involved a great number of supportive personnel. It takes a lot of people to get a plane into the air. But nobody I can think of remembers him."
Mintz said, "(I) talked to one of my buddies the other day and asked him if he could remember Bush at drill at any time, and he said, 'Naw, ol' George wasn't there.'"
His buddy is Paul Bishop. Bishop voted for Bush in 2000, but says he is now upset about Bush lying about serving in Alabama. "I never saw hide nor hair of Mr. Bush," he said.
Bishop claims he didn't pay attention to the lies during campaign 2000, but does since Bush went to war in Iraq. "It bothered me that he wouldn't 'fess up and say, Okay, guys, I cut out when the rest of you did your time. He shouldn't have tried to dance around the subject. I take great exception to that. I spent 39 years defending my country," he said.
Bush better not count on getting votes from these 2 vets. When Bishop was asked if plans to vote for Bush, he said, "Naw, this goes to an integrity issue." And who will Bob Mintz be voting for? "Not for any Texas politicians," he says.