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Colonel Eugene J. Holmes; accused Clinton of lying

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Eugene J. Holmes, a retired Army colonel who accused Bill Clinton of deceiving him in order to dodge the Vietnam War draft, has died at age 88.

Colonel Holmes, who survived the Bataan Death March during World War II, died Saturday at his Fayetteville home, Moore's Chapel funeral home said.

Colonel Holmes was director of the University of Arkansas Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in 1969 when Clinton, then a Rhodes scholar attending Oxford University in England, applied to the program to satisfy draft deferments. He never actually enrolled in the program.

In 1992, when Clinton was governor of Arkansas and running for president, Colonel Holmes said he had initially believed Clinton was genuinely interested in becoming an officer, but had changed his view.

''I believe that he purposely deceived me, using the possibility of joining the ROTC as a ploy to work with the draft board to delay his induction and get a new draft classification," he said.

Clinton said in his memoirs, ''My Life," that he signed a letter-of-intent to join ROTC but was told he would have to wait a year to formally enroll. He said Colonel Holmes agreed to let him go back to Oxford in the interim.

Clinton said he later had a change of heart about deferments and decided to go back into the draft, but received a high draft lottery number and was never called to service.

In 1942, Colonel Holmes had survived the infamous Bataan Death March, in which the Japanese forced thousands of captured American and Filipino soldiers to hike across 60 miles of Philippine jungle without food or water. Colonel Holmes then spent 3 years as a prisoner of war.

He was awarded a Silver Star and Bronze Star in combat.

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