Bush Military Records Turn Up

George W. Bush is shown during his time in the Texas Air National Guard, 1968-73, in this undated photo. The White House, facing election-year questions about President George W. Bush's military service, released pay records Tuesday that it said supported Bush's assertion that he fulfilled his duty as a member of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. AP

The Pentagon on Friday released newly discovered payroll records from George W. Bush's 1972 service in the Alabama National Guard, though the records shed no new light on the future president's activities during that summer.

A Pentagon official said the earlier contention that the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."

Like records released earlier by the White House, the newly released computerized payroll records show no indication Bush drilled with the Alabama unit during July, August and September of 1972. Pay records covering all of 1972, released previously, also indicated no guard service for Bush during those three months.

The records do not give any new information toward determining whether Bush kept his National Guard commitments during 1972, when he transferred to the Alabama National Guard unit so he could work on the U.S. Senate campaign of a family friend.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Bush kept his service commitments, pointing to the fact that Bush was honorably discharged in 1973.

The release came days before Democrats began their national convention in Boston to officially nominate Sen. John Kerry as their presidential candidate. Military veterans are being tapped at the convention to help tell Kerry's story as he prepares to accept the party's nomination next week.

Democrats have sought to contrast Bush's National Guard service with Kerry's Vietnam War record. Kerry enlisted in the Navy, volunteered for combat in Vietnam and earned several medals including a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. After returning from Vietnam, Kerry became a prominent anti-war activist.

The Associated Press had asked a federal judge on July 16 to order the Pentagon to quickly turn over a copy of the pay records. The AP had sued under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the records from a state library records center in Texas.

Records of Bush's National Guard service released previously did not conclusively show whether Bush fulfilled his service requirements in 1972 and 1973, during the Vietnam War.

Bush had transferred to an Alabama National Guard unit while he worked on the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton Blount.

The Pentagon had said that the payroll records for that time period had been inadvertently destroyed.

"Previous attempts to locate the missing records at the Federal Records Center had been unsuccessful due to the incorrect records accession numbers provided," the Pentagon's Office of Freedom of Information chief C.Y. Talbott said in a letter Friday to The Associated Press

  • Lauren Johnston

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