Monday, October 04, 2004

Colonel William Campenni Strafes the Bush Was AWOL Meme

Early drive-time listeners to Seattle radio station KTTH's Mike Siegel show this morning, witnessed the wholesale destruction of the enem... Ur, the DeLong-Drum-Barnes-Rather Axis of Ev... Ur, the argument that George W. Bush received a pilot slot through political influence, and was treated unfairly favorably during his tour of duty. According to the Fly Under the Bridge Academy's roving correspondent for all things Texas ANG.

Col (retired) Campenni flew with Lt Bush in 1970-71 in the 111th FIS at Ellington AFB. And after a stint with the Pennsylvania ANG, rejoined the 111th in Houston in 1973. Contrary to the ill-informed opinions of many who have spouted off, George W. Bush joined the Texas ANG for the specific purpose of training to fly fighter jets.

In 1968, the year of the Pueblo incident and the Tet Offensive. With 540,000 Americans fighting and dying in Vietnam (some of them F-102 pilots from the same 111th FIS that Bush signed with) thanks to LBJ's recent escalation of that conflict. No political influence was necessary to get into this dangerous business. The Guard was short of pilots at the time. There were five slots open, and George W. Bush got one of those, with the others going to sons of welders and ranch hands.

Lt Bush was considered a good pilot. He was liked, not resented. No one would have known he was a congressman's son unless they'd been told. In fact, at the time, being a Republican might have been reason to withhold a pilot slot, not grant one. As Campenni pointed out, Texas was not a Republican state, but a Democrat one. LBJ was President when Bush was accepted, and Bush's father lost an election to Lloyd Bentsen for one of the state's Senate seats while Bush served in the Texas ANG.

When the host marvelled that Col Campenni's first hand information hadn't gotten more widespread circulation in the news media, and asked if the President shouldn't be telling the nation what the Col had just been sharing, Campenni astutely noted that, it's awkward for the President to do so himself. However, the President's spokesmen should be doing exactly that to counter the ignorant claims that Bush did not fulfill his military obligation. Or had tried to avoid combat.

Mission accomplished, and the FLUBA salutes you, Colonel.

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