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David L. Johnson letter: Real veterans know what G.W. Bush did

Back when I was an elderly teenager, 1966, I enlisted in the service, not because I wanted to fight in war (which I ended up doing), not God, not because I was brave. I was young and naive. I enlisted because I had been brainwashed into thinking ...

Back when I was an elderly teenager, 1966, I enlisted in the service, not because I wanted to fight in war (which I ended up doing), not God, not because I was brave. I was young and naive. I enlisted because I had been brainwashed into thinking I owed a number of years of service to my country. So I gave myself, regardless if I agreed with the political issues of the day, which I did not.

What I found out later, however, is not all young men did, particularly those born into privilege; you know the current chicken hawks, like Dan Qualye and George W. Bush. Although they supported the war I fought, when it come down to proving to the nation how large their backbone was, they claimed their privilege from the wealth and influence of their fathers and got into the National Guard. You need to understand, my saying that does not change the image of those currently in the guard. They are no longer, as they were then, weekend, stay-at-home warriors. Times have changed.

I've been reading the service record (or lack of one) of GW, our current commander in chief. He has been rumored to make that comment when it came to Vietnam, he did not have the courage to blow his ear drum out or go to Canada so instead he went into the Air National Guard. And then, he did not even show up between May of '72 and May of '73. He makes the claim that he served in Alabama during this time but offered no proof. A group of Alabama veterans offered a reward of $3,500 for anyone who could prove Bush served in Alabama but to date no one has claimed the reward. ("Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How it Distorts the Truth," by Joe Conason, page 64.)

I knew a few fellows that shot themselves to get out of Vietnam. I also know a few that could not live with the aftermath and shot themselves or poisoned themselves with alcohol to get out of life. Whether I agree with it not, I do have to say it took some courage. So -- considering Bush at least thought about inflicting damage to himself so not to serve but could not bring himself to do it, and instead hid behind daddy's influence, I would say he qualifies for the word "cowardly" at the very least.

To ask others, as he has done as commander in chief, to do what he did not have the personal courage to do (to fight a war) is nothing short of despicable.

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And for not showing at an assigned duty station under orders, I would call that person the same thing he would have called me had I done the same thing: a deserter, commander in chief or not.

David L. Johnson

Second Battalion First Marines, FPO, Vietnam DMZ 67-68, Forman, N.D.

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