This Day In History: August 1

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On August 1, 1972, future president George Walker Bush, son of former president George Herbert Walker Bush, is suspended from flying with the Texas Air National Guard for missing an annual medical examination.

Bush’s military-service record became a source of controversy during the 2000 and 2004 elections, and underwent further scrutiny when he launched a controversial war in Iraq in 2003. Although Bush served in the National Guard, many opponents of the war, including veterans, criticized the president for a sketchy military record, which, it was alleged, contained extended and inexplicable absences of six months to a year at a time. Bush defended his military record by saying he satisfactorily completed all of his military obligations.

Bush was given an honorable discharge from the Air National Guard in 1973 to attend Harvard Business School. Still, some veterans and war opponents equated Bush’s stint in the National Guard and his subsequent Harvard attendance as tantamount to a Vietnam War draft deferment procured by his politically influential father. Bush’s harshest critics went even further, claiming that Bush’s military records may have been tampered with or forged to create a positive military-service record. According to analyses by historians and investigators, however, Bush’s military records do not substantiate this or some critics’ claims that Bush ever went AWOL (absent without leave).