his graduation from Yale in 1968, the future president entered
a period he has dubbed his "nomadic years." For the next five
years, Mr. Bush moved through three different states, holding
at least three different jobs and living in at least seven apartments.
was also during this period that the son of a Republican congressman
from Houston applied for and was accepted into the Texas Air National
Guard, a service that has come under intense scrutiny. Just 12
days before he was set to lose his student deferment that kept
him out of the draft, the future president walked into the Guard
base at Ellington Air Base and said he wanted to sign up for pilot
to myself, 'What do I want to do?' I think I don't want to be
an infantry guy as a private in Vietnam. What I do decide to want
to do is learn to fly," Mr. Bush told an interviewer in 1989.
gave George Bush the Air Force Officers Qualification Test --
he scored an impressive 95 percent on questions designed to indicate
"officer quality," 50 percent on navigation aptitude, but barely
passed the pilot aptitude section with 25 percent accuracy. He
was accepted into the last spot open in the squadron.
Although law suits and news reports have examined and questioned
whether family connections gave the recent college grad preferential
treatment in the acceptance process, it was how well he completed
that service that came under fire in early 2004.
including Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe,
have charged Mr. Bush with being absent without leave during a
period from May 1972 to May 1973 while he worked on a political
campaign, though there is no proof of that allegation.
the charge, the White House eventually released a 2.5 inch-thick
file of the president's military and other records from the period.
season is here. I was, served in the National Guard. I flew F-102
aircraft. I got an honorable discharge," President Bush told NBC's
Tim Russert in February. "I've heard this ever since I started
running for office. ... I put in my time, proudly so."
It was during
this time that George W. Bush's interest in politics appeared
to intensify. Much of the controversy surrounding the National
Guard stems from a period in which he was working in Alabama for
a Senate candidate.
-- By Lee Banville, Online NewsHour