- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 14, 2004

The White House yesterday released President Bush’s full personnel file from his service in the Texas Air National Guard, including his medical records, an attempt to defuse repeated claims by Democrats that he failed to complete his duty.

The documents show Mr. Bush reported to duty at Dannelly Air National Guard Base in Alabama at least eight times between October 1972 and May 1973 — a time frame Democrats have questioned whether Mr. Bush fulfilled his temporary duty obligation.

“This whole thing has become so ridiculous,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. “The president felt everything should be made available to the public. There were some who sought to leave a wrong impression that there was something to hide when there is not.”

The records also show that Mr. Bush was examined and cleared to fly in 1968, 1970 and 1971. He was not examined to fly again in 1972, because he was about to be transferred to a base in Montgomery, Ala., where he would not be flying, said White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett.

Democrats have cited the lack of a 1972 exam when questioning Mr. Bush’s service.

Earlier yesterday, a retired Alabama Air National Guard officer said he remembers Mr. Bush showing up for duty in Alabama in 1972, fulfilling part of his weekend obligations reading safety magazines and flight manuals.

“I saw him each drill period,” said Lt. Col. John “Bill” Calhoun, the first member of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group to recall Mr. Bush distinctly at the Alabama base in the period of 1972-1973.

“He was very aggressive about doing his duty there. He never complained about it. … He was very dedicated to what he was doing in the Guard. He showed up on time and he left at the end of the day.”

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, accused Mr. Bush in a national television interview this month of being AWOL — absent without leave — when he was supposed to be serving in Alabama.

The records show that Mr. Bush reported to the base for duty numerous times, but a DNC spokeswoman kept up the criticism.

“Hopefully these are all the documents,” said DNC spokeswoman Debra DeShong. “Each revelation of material from the Bush White House has raised more questions than it has answered. It remains to be seen if these newest documents will provide any answers.”

Mr. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard records, a stack 4 inches thick, were the president’s complete record, the White House said.

It shows that Mr. Bush enlisted at Ellington Air Force Base in Texas on May 27, 1968, was promoted to second lieutenant on July 12, 1968, promoted to first lieutenant on Nov. 7, 1970 and was honorably discharged on Nov. 21, 1970.

In the recommendation that he be promoted to first lieutenant, Mr. Bush’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, wrote that Mr. Bush “is a dynamic, outstanding young officer.”

They also show that Mr. Bush, on Sept. 5, 1972, applied for permission to transfer from his post in Texas to perform equivalent duty in Alabama for the months of October, November and December to work on a family friend’s U.S. Senate campaign.

He was granted that permission on Sept. 11, 1972.

Mr. Bush was honorably discharged after serving five years, four months and five days of his six-year commitment in the Guard. He was granted permission for an early discharge so he could enroll in Harvard’s business school.

This story is based in part on wire service dispatches.

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