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Patricia L Johnson: Was GWB Licensed To Fly?

Licensed To Fly?

By Patricia L Johnson

We all remember the photo of George W. Bush, Commander-In-Chief, waving from the co-pilot's seat of what was dubbed "Navy One' on May 1, 2003. President Bush waved from the window of the S-3B Viking to the troops waiting aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, prior to making his speech on Iraq which began " Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed....." (1)

What a proud day that was for the people of the United States. Our President standing on the deck of a magnificent ship telling us the US had prevailed in Iraq. President Bush became an instant hero, and honor and respect was finally brought back to the person sitting in the oval office, in the form of an Air Force Pilot sitting behind the wheel of an S-3B Viking Navy jet, or standing on the flight deck in flight suit, with helmet at his side.

Over the past few weeks there have been many questions asked about President Bush's military service in the Air National Guard of Texas and Air Force Reserve. A review of Bush's military records indicates numerous gaps and many questions, and perhaps someday they'll all be answered. Simple little questions like, why did George W. Bush wait until September 5, 1973 to submit an application for discharge stating he was moving to Boston, MA to attend Harvard Business School when classes at Harvard begin in September? Didn't 1st Lt. Bush know in advance that he was attending HBS?

Whether the questions we ask about Bush's military records are simple or complicated they generally pertain to events that occurred over three decades ago and have little bearing on the here and now. Or do they?

Bush not only sat in the co-pilots seat of the S-3B Viking on May 1, 2003, he also "steered" the military jet as indicated by the interview posted on the Whitehouse website (2)

Q Mr. President, when you were flying the plane, what did you do? Did you steer it?

THE PRESIDENT: Just steer it.

Q Did you go straight, or did you turn it?


While most journalists are attempting to fill in and/or cover up the gap in President Bush's military records, my question is, on May 1, 2003 when the President of the United States got behind the wheel of the $27 million dollar Viking

(3) to 'steer' it, was he licensed to fly?

When 1st Lt. George W. Bush was in the military he had a MOS [Military Occupation Specialty] of 1125D indicating he was a Squadron Level, Fighter Interceptor, Pilot - eligible to pilot a F-102 type aircraft. On August 1, 1972 1st Lt. Bush was verbally suspended from flying. This verbal order was followed up with a written suspension on November 19, 1972 (4) that includes the following excerpt:

"6. Verbal orders of the Comdr on 1 Aug 72 suspending 1st LT. GEORGE W. BUSH [service number blocked] ANGUS (Not on EAD), TX ANG, Hq 147 Ftr Gp, Ellington AFB, Houston TX, from flying status are confirmed, exigencies of the service having been such as to preclude the publication of competent written orders in advance. Reason for Suspension: Failure to accomplish annual medical examination. Off will comply with para 2-10, AFM 35-13. Authority: Para 2-29 m, AFM 35-13."

Nine months later, on May 2, 1973, William D. Harris, Jr. Lt. Colonel FG, 111th FIS TexANG (ADC) reported the following.(5) "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report. A civilian occupation made it necessary for him to move to Montgomery, Alabama. He cleared this base on 15 May 1972 and has been performing equivalent training in a non flying status with the 187 Tax Recon Gp, Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama."

Four months later, on 5 Sep 73, George W. Bush, lst Lt, wrote a memo to: 111th Ftr Intec Sq/CC requesting a discharge from the Texas Air National Guard. Lt. Bush requested reassignment to ARPC (NARS) effective October 1973 as he would be moving to Boston, MA to attend Harvard Business School. Bush's request was approved by Jerry B. Killian, Lt Col, Tex ANG, Commander on September 6, 1973 (6) [page 5 of 7]

His flying privileges were suspended on August 1, 1972 for failure to obtain his annual medical examination. When he was discharged from the ANG on October 1, 1973 his military records were listing his last physical as May 1971 (7) [page 11 of 22] and his flying status as suspended [page 12 of 22].

When we put someone behind the wheel of a $27 million dollar jet, shouldn't they be licensed to fly?


- Patricia Johnson is a freelance writer residing in the Midwest.

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