James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

National Guard no-show? It's SOP

As a former National Guard personnel sergeant, I can state with certainty that records showing George W. Bush was paid for six days of service in the Air National Guard in 1972 proves absolutely nothing about whether he actually served those days. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

It always has been the practice of the military in this country to give free rides to some types of celebrities and, especially, the sons of politicians and the rich and powerful. Fixing their records to show they were on duty, and were paid, when they were nowhere in sight is SOP (standard operating procedure).

As a low-ranking personnel specialist at Fort Ord, California, in 1959 I saw several examples of just such treatment of young men who supposedly were on active duty for six months as part of their National Guard training.

One case involved a rock singer, scion of one of America’s most famous show business families, who was scheduled to actually be on base one day to collect the papers showing he had served his active duty time and had received certain training. I was working in the personnel office in post headquarters at the time, and it was easy to find out: The guy had been at Fort Ord exactly once before, for part of the day he supposedly began his active duty.

He didn’t show up that “final” day either, by the way, which greatly disappointed the various generals and colonels with whom he was to have lunch.

In any case, six days of service in eight months would not fulfill the requirements of any enlistment I ever heard of.