The Democratic Veteran has posted an order dated 29 September 1972 from the Major General in charge of the National Guard Bureau, confirming the local commander’s suspension of 1STLT George W. Bush from flying for having failed to get a flight physical. The order continues:
“Off. will comply with para 2-10, APM 35-13.”
[Note that in militarese, the word “will,” used in that context, constitutes the rest of the sentence an order. So the officer in question, 1STLT Bush, is ordered to comply with paragraphs 2 through 10 of the document designated APM 35-13.]
The paragraph immediately below is identical except that it names another officer. So presumably being suspended from flying and ordered to comply with paragraphs 2-10 of APM 35-13 was the routine response to having missed a flight physical. (Presumably the situation itself wasn’t completely routine, if it resulted in a direct order from the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to a First Lieutenant.)
The Democratic Veteran recalls seeing a cite to those paragraphs indicating that they said what you’d expect them to say: “Get a physical.” If so, then 1STLT Bush’s failure to do so (Did he think that a dental exam was just as good?) constituted the crime of disobedience to a direct order.
The last time I checked, First Lieutenants, even Bonesmen who are also the sons of Congressmen, were not allowed to overrule Major Generals, so 1STLT Bush’s opinion, as relayed to us by his Communications Director, that since he was no longer flying he didn’t really need to take a physical, would not have been legally controlling authority on that matter.
Mr. Bartlett said Mr. Bush missed the exam because he felt there was no reason to take it. Mr. Bush, he said, had begun his training in 1968 with the Air National Guard in Texas, where he flew a fighter jet, the F-102. When he moved to Alabama in 1972 to work in the Senate campaign of a friend of his father, Mr. Bush transferred to an Alabama unit of the Guard that did not fly the same plane. Because there was no way Mr. Bush could fly planes in Alabama, Mr. Bartlett said, he did not bother to report for the medical exam.
There’s a problem with this analysis, though. The Veteran can no longer find the cite, or a copy of the then-current version of APM 35-13, so it’s impossible to be sure.
Can any reader help clarify?
Update Daily Kos thinks he’s deciphered a document that indicates that Bush’s transfer out of the TANG was under a rule providing that:
Officers who are substandard in performance of duty or conduct, deficient in character, lacking in professional qualifications or status, or otherwise unsuited for continued military service are not to be retained in the Texas National Guard.
Is Kos right?
Second update Dana Milbank of the Washington Post on the White House’s attempt to pretend that the dental exam proved anything in particular:
Third update A reader suggests that para 2-10 probably should be read not as “paragraphs 2 through 10” but as “paragraph 10 of section 2.”