President Bush claims that in the fall of 1972, he fulfilled his Air National Guard duties at a base in Alabama. But Bob Mintz was there - and he is sure Mr. Bush wasn't. Plenty of other officers have said they also don't recall that Mr. Bush ever showed up for drills at the base. What's different about Mr. Mintz is that he remembers actively looking for Mr. Bush and never finding him. Mr. Mintz says he had heard that Mr. Bush - described as a young Texas pilot with political influence - had transferred to the base. He heard that Mr. Bush was also a bachelor, so he was looking forward to partying together. He's confident that he'd remember if Mr. Bush had shown up. "I'm sure I would have seen him," Mr. Mintz said yesterday. "It's a small unit, and you couldn't go in or out without being seen. It was too close a space." There were only 25 to 30 pilots there, and Mr. Bush - a U.N. ambassador's son who had dated Tricia Nixon - would have been particularly memorable. I've steered clear until now of how Mr. Bush evaded service in Vietnam because I thought other issues were more important. But if Bush supporters attack John Kerry for his conduct after he volunteered for dangerous duty in Vietnam, it's only fair to scrutinize Mr. Bush's behavior. It's not a pretty sight. Mr. Bush was saved from active duty, and perhaps Vietnam, only after the speaker of the Texas House intervened for him because of his family's influence. Mr. Bush signed up in May 1968 for a six-year commitment, justifying the $1 million investment in training him as a pilot. But after less than two years, Mr. Bush abruptly stopped flying, didn't show up for his physical and asked to transfer to Alabama. He never again flew a military plane, informs the NYTimes. According to CNN, Months after insisting it could find no more records of President Bush's Air National Guard service, the Defense Department has released more than two dozen pages of files, including Bush's report card for flight training and dates of his flights. The records, released under pressure of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Associated Press, show Bush ranked in the middle of his 1969 flight training class and flew 336 hours for the Texas Air National Guard, mostly in the F-102A fighter. The Pentagon and Bush's campaign have claimed for months that all records detailing his fighter pilot career have been made public, but defense officials acknowledged Tuesday they had found two dozen new records detailing his training and flight logs after the AP sued and submitted new requests under the public records law. "Previous requests from other requesters for President Bush's Individual Flight Records did not lead to the discovery of these records because at the time President Bush left the service, flight records were subject to retention for only 24 months and we understood that neither the Air Force nor the Texas Air National Guard retained such records thereafter," the Pentagon told the AP.
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