Instapundit linked to a Donald Sensing blog post
which criticizes the Bush-is-a-deserter meme. I found Sensing's argument overly technical and legalistic -- he says that "no civilian actually knows what desertion really is," that "desertion is a prosecutorial finding after the absent service member has been returned to military control," and that the absence must be motivated by "intent to remain away permanently". This merely serves to obscure the issue, which is whether Bush fulfilled his duty while in the National Guard.
But I don't need to be persuaded by Sensing that Bush was not a deserter; that was done by his commenters who were former Guardsmen. Going by what they said, written records would give you about as much information on what Bush did in the Guard in the 1970's as written records would tell you what went on in the Gobi Desert in the year 1500 B.C. Here are some of their tales:
Anyone trying to base ANY opinion or findings on military paperwork that is decades old is nuts. I spent almost a year at the 82d before I was finally "arrived" in the official system. If I hadn't screamed, yelled, and jumped on desks for that entire time, it never would have happened. And guess what the end result would have been if I hadn't -- 3 years where I wasn't REALLY at Fort Bragg. And that was on the latest and greatest computerized system.
Losing records among the Guard and Reserves is all too common. Even in today's system over 5% of personal called up cannot get their 201 to their gaining commands. It is the nasty little fact that no one talks about, and that's a huge improvement over what it was 30 years ago.
My brother is in the Naval Reserve, they have lost his physical the last three times he has taken it. Every month he goes back and they yell at him for not having a physical. This includes the shots. And yet the last three months he has had to have a physical, he may miss his 2 week duty this year because he has not taken the physical, according to the military. 20 years from now people may accuse my brother of skipping out of his 2 week duty this year. And yet he is angry because he is going to miss it.
Also read these comments from John Cole (Balloon Juice) on his personal experiences in this regard
- I received three batteries of shots that are supposed to be administered once every ten years or so, because my shot records kept coming up missing.
- I was not paid numerous times throught my Guard tenure.
- I was deployed for my two week annual training with the unit in Fort Dix, upon arrival it was discovered that no orders had been cut for me, so I went back home, only to learn that the orders had been found and I had to re-deploy.
-Every semester as an undergrad, the paperwork for my tuition waiver was lost, so halfway through the semester I was dropped from all my classes. I would then have to go back at the end of the semester, when the waiver was finally found, and re-register for the classes I had already taken and then get grade modifications filled out by the professors. EVERY SEMESTER.