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Bush's Guard records note praise from father

WASHINGTON -- President Bush’s father told an Air Force major general that his son was a ‘‘gung ho’’ military man and predicted ‘‘he will make a good pilot as well,’’ according to documents released yesterday by the Pentagon.

The elder Bush’s praise was in a letter written to Major General G.B. Greene Jr., who in 1968 commanded the military training center in San Antonio, where the younger Bush was undergoing basic training.

The letter, written when the elder Bush was a Republican congressman representing Houston, came a few months after his son had enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard, an arrangement that many critics have described as a move sheltering him from combat duty in Vietnam.

Greene apparently had written to Representative Bush commending his son’s performance in the early phase of his training.

It was unclear whether Greene’s letter to Bush showed special interest in the young enlistee or was a perfunctory letter sent to all trainees’ families.

The Bush letter and nearly 200 pages of historical National Guard reports were released yesterday amid a renewed controversy over the president’s military service in the late 1960s and early ’70s. In this election year, the White House repeatedly has released new documents despite its insistence earlier that all available material had been made public.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the letter was a typical parental reaction: ‘‘It’s just a letter from a proud father.’’

But Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe suggested that the note showed preferential treatment.

‘‘These documents demonstrate yet again that George Bush was a fortunate son who received special consideration unavailable to the average American,’’ McAuliffe said.

The latest batch of documents did not include the initial letter from Greene to the senior Bush. In his letter to Greene, dated Sept. 11, 1968, and written on congressional stationery, Bush said he was ‘‘surprised . . . that a major general in the Air Force would take interest in a brand new Air Force trainee’’ and that it ‘‘made a big impression on me.’’

Bush said his son was ‘‘anxiously looking forward to going to flight school and with parental pride, I do have a feeling that he will be a gung ho member of the US Air Force. I think that he will make a good pilot as well.’’

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