Evelyn Pringle August 13, 2004
Citizens for Honest Fighter Pilots call on Bush to explain how he could fail to show up for his annual physical, get suspended as a fighter pilot, and escape any discipline whatsoever.
First of all, let's put one theory to rest, any suggestion that he could simply decide to quit flying, with two years left on his commitment, after a quarter of a million dollars was invested in his training, is absurd. He needs to clear up this issue once and for all.
When Bush joined the guard, he said he had a goal of "making flying a lifetime pursuit," and signed a document stating, "I understand that I may be ordered to active duty for a period not to exceed 24 months for unsatisfactory participation."
Yet, even under the threat of being placed on active duty, he failed to show up. His 1972 suspension order states: "Verbal orders of the Comdr on 1 Aug 72 suspending 1STLT George W. Bush ... from flying status are confirmed ... Reason for Suspension: Failure to accomplish annual medical examination. Off will comply with para 2-10, AFM 35-13.
AFM 35-13 specifies that "When a Rated Officer Fails To Accomplish a Medical Examination Prescribed by AFM ... (1) The local commander ... will direct an investigation ... (2) will forward the report along with the command recommendation to USAFMPC/DPMAJD, Randolph AFB TX 78148 for final determination."
There is no record of the an investigation or a follow-up report. Two retired generals say it is unheard of for a pilot to miss a flight physical and not be investigated. "There is no excuse for that. Aviators just don't miss their flight physicals," said Major General Paul Weaver, retired director of the Air National Guard.
Brigadier General David McGinnis said that "Failure to take your flight physical is like a failure to show up for duty. It is an obligation you can't blow off," and that regulations would have required an investigation of the matter.
McGinnis says that Bush's superiors may have decided "to get him off the books, make his father happy, and hope no one would notice." But there still should have been a report. "If it didn't happen, that shows how far they were willing to stretch the rules to accommodate" then Lt Bush.
Over time, the Bush camp has given 3 different equally dishonest stories, about why he was suspended. First it was that he did not take the physical because his personal physician was in Houston. The Boston Globe put that lie to rest when it reported that "flight physicals can be administered only by certified Air Force flight surgeons, and some were assigned at the time to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, where Bush was living."
On another date, his people told the London Times that he didn't have to take an exam, "As he was not flying, there was no reason for him to take the flight physical exam."
Then spokesman, Dan Bartlett, told reporters that Bush knew that he would be suspended because his paperwork hadn't caught up with him. "It was just a question of following the bureaucratic procedure of the time," Bartlett said. "He knew the suspension would have to take place."
So which is it, (a) his family physician wasn't in Alabama, (b) he didn't have to take it because he wasn't flying; or (3) the suspension was caused by a bureaucratic mix-up of paperwork?
At a later date, Bush said he quit flying because the plane he trained on was no longer in use. That was also a lie. His Unit flew the F-102 until 1974. His Texas commander, Retired Major Bobby Hodges said, "If he had come back to Houston, I would have kept him flying the 102 until he got out, but I don't remember him coming back at all."
To get into pilot training, Bush signed a pledge to fly for 5 years after he completed his training to ensure that tax dollars would be well-spent. He grossly violated that pledge and he should be required to repay taxpayers for the cost of his training.