The Guard Record Bush Doesn't Want You To See

Bush's Guard service has been a topic of controversy ever since he started running for public office. Controversy quickly centered on his fifth year of service (May 1972-73), because very few records exist to document him doing any service at all. And how can we evaluate his fitness to lead the American people without having the actual facts of his past service?

After much stalling, Bush yielded to public pressure and released many more documents to the press at the beginning of this year. Among them were payroll records for almost every quarter Bush was in the Guard. Two quarterly payroll records were missing, however, and one of those was the third quarter of 1972, a quarter in which Bush missed a required flight physical and was grounded from flying.

Now they tell us this payroll record was destroyed in a microfilm restoration project. The mainstream media is treating this destruction as the end of the story, as if we will never know the real story behind Bush's service during this period. However, the payroll information for this missing quarter has been preserved in other payroll records, and a complete picture of Bush's fifth year of service can easily be reconstructed, if you take a little time to put the records together.

Since larger media sources seem reluctant to do the legwork, I did it in about six hours Friday evening. And it's no wonder that Bush has been dragging his heels releasing this documentation, because the final picture isn't very flattering.

Bush's payroll records for that fifth year of service are not complete. We lack the third quarter (July-September) 1972 and always will, apparently. Further gaps include an incomplete record of the fourth quarter 1972 and a partial copy of the first quarter 1973 record.

Let's look at a complete payroll record to see what we are dealing with. This is Bush's 3rd quarter pay record from the year 1973:

That's a lot of information, right? But there's a calendar right in the middle that's easy to understand. When Bush showed up and performed some kind of service for the Guard, then a code denoting what service is entered into that date. Here's the above calendar in a closeup.

As you can see, the months of October, November, and December are still labeled 1972. That's because it's showing Bush's service from those three months in 1972, even though this is a 1973 document.


The way that the Guard keeps records, you see, is by overwriting. The military likes redundancy, because real mistakes are made all the time. So on the pay records that are filed quarterly, the previous three quarters are printed on that record as a backup.

This third quarter 1973 payroll record is then official documentation to the previous three quarters. That's why the recent revelation of destroyed Bush documents doesn't mean anything. Unless you want to question how that particular microfilm set was selected for "restoration". That's fine.

But if you want the actual information about Bush's service during that period, that we have, from the redundant records.

To find our missing quarter, let's look at the next quarter's payroll record. Here's the calendar of Bush's fourth quarter pay record from 1972:

It was released as a negative image, so it's easier to read. All the months are labeled 72, so this is the fourth quarter's record.

However, there are no service dates listed for the last two quarters at all! In the 1973 calendar, the fourth quarter 1972 had some dates listed here, but not on the actual fourth quarter 1972 record. Why is this record incomplete?

Because, I believe, this is a record of Houston service only. Houston would have had no information on any service that Bush did in Alabama. Why would they? So they didn't record any service for those two quarters.

This means, by the way, that if the destroyed microfilm were available to us, we would learn nothing new. If this fourth quarter document didn't have anything in the third quarter, then why would we expect to find anything in the actual third quarter record? The media handwringing over this lost record is laughable: there wouldn't be anything on it anyway about Bush's service.

But this payroll record confirms that Bush did no service time whatsoever in Houston in the last two quarters of 1972.

Let's move on to the next quarter: the first quarter 1973. I'm reproducing this payroll record in full:

This document is oddly truncated. Though it's showing how Bush got paid for the first quarter, those months (Jan-Mar) aren't listed here! And from the complete pay record I reproduced above, there's a lot of header information that isn't on this document.

Let's go ahead and grant that it is a partial copy of the first quarter 1973, the second page of a two page report. It'd be nice to see that first page, though, wouldn't it?

On this record, the Oct-Dec 72 spaces now have some service time listed. This is consistent with Houston learning the extent of Bush's service in Alabama and putting it in their records. More redundancy.

But there's no service listed for the third quarter whatsoever.

I won't reproduce it here, but the second quarter 1973 record gives exactly the same information for the missing quarter as this record. Bush served a couple of days in late October, and a few days in November. This service was in Alabama.

This service was in Alabama. But he didn't serve in Alabama during the third quarter at all.

So, according to the actual records we have, Bush didn't serve in Houston or in Alabama during the third quarter of 1972, the time period that's been obscured by the "inadvertently destroyed" records.

Only in the 3rd quarter 1973 pay record (the complete record reproduced above) is the 3rd quarter 1972 information overwritten. So that gives us two documents that show conclusively that Lt. Bush skipped out on a quarter of his service.

But wait! There's more!

It bugged me that the first quarter 1973 record was so truncated. So I rebuilt the entire calendar for that period, as it would have appeared if the entire record was available to us. Since the second quarter 1973 pay record is available, I grabbed the calendar from that record and digitally replaced the second quarter 1973 with the second quarter information from 1972, which I got from the negative image up above. The reconstructed record has been checked for complete accuracy, and I ask you to show me where it's wrong

And here it is, Lt. Bush's entire year of service for April 1972 - March 1973.

We're getting close to the record Bush doesn't want you to see. This calendar would have appeared on the partial payroll record, if that payroll record had been complete. It's a clear picture of how George W. Bush blew off his National Guard duty, and how he's covering it up to this very day.

Now is this a fair way to evaluate Bush's service time? This isn't Bush's complete fifth year, after all. Bush entered the service on May 27, 1968, so a complete picture of his fifth year would be May 27, 1972 though May 26, 1973.

Okay, fine. Here's Bush's complete fifth year on a digitally reclaimed calendar:

How about that May 1973 record! Suddenly Bush jumps from strictly inactive duty (done mostly in Alabama) to 9 days of active duty training. It's a trend that continued into the next months; by looking at the complete third quarter 1973 record, Bush doesn't seem to have done anything in May, June, and July of 1973 but pull duty at the National Guard.

What a remarkable jumpstart! Someone lit a fire under that grounded pilot's posterior in late April 1973. And here's the reason why:

The above is Bush's record of service from May 1972 to April 1973. This is what his superiors were looking at in late April 1973 when it came time to evaluate Lt. Bush's Guard duty in his fifth year of service.

It's not the picture of someone who considers his sworn duty in the military a priority, is it?

So someone sat young George down for a little talk. A talk which resulted in a very hard summer indeed for Lt. Bush, a summer of extraordinary attendance to his Guard duties. A talk in which the words "showing up and doing the job" probably figured prominently.

A talk which appears nowhere in disciplinary records at all. Any paperwork related to this documentable jumpstart in Lt. Bush's Guard career has not yet been released.

And then there's the partial first quarter 1973 payroll record, and the missing Flight Inquiry records that would have been convened when Bush was grounded from flying, and the missing DD214 that would have been issued when Bush was discharged 6 years and 6 months after he enlisted (six months longer than his initial commitment).

Despite repeated requests for all of these documents, Bush doesn't want us to see them, claiming that everything has been released.

I wonder why that is.

NOTE: This is version 2.0. It's a major rewrite which incorporates the actual start time of Bush's Guard service, and corrects details in two of the payroll calendars (thanks, Susie Dow from Table Talk).