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Friday, September 27, 2019

Presidents’ Military Experience

Of the Presidents, 31 served in the military. Six of them could be considered professionals:

George Washington 
Revolutionary War
combat veteran
Andrew Jackson 
Major General
War of 1812 and Indian Wars
combat veteran
wounded or injured
William Henry Harrison 
Major General
War of 1812
combat veteran
Zachary Taylor  
Major General
War of 1812, Indian Wars and Mexican War, Civil War
combat veteran
wounded or injured
Ulysses S. Grant 
Mexican War and Civil War
combat veteran
Dwight D. Eisenhower 
WW1 and WW2
combat veteran
James E. Carter Jr. 
Navy Lieutenant
Graduated from the Naval Academy and served seven years on active duty 
He served during Korean War, but not in country

Others who served in the military were: 
Thomas Jefferson (Revolutionary War-Colonel) 
James Madison (Revolutionary War-Colonel) 
James Monroe (Revolutionary War-combat veteran-wounded or injured-Major)
John Tyler (War of 1812-Militia Captain) 
James K. Polk (Colonel) 
Millard Fillmore (Civil War-Major) 
Franklin Pierce (Mexican War and Civil War-combat veteran-Private, later promoted to officer-Brigadier General) 
James Buchanan (War of 1812-Private) 
Abraham Lincoln (Indian Wars-Private later promoted to officer-Militia Captain)
Andrew Johnson (Civil War-Brigadier General) 
Rutherford B. Hayes (Civil War-combat veteran-wounded several times-horse shot out from under him on four occasions-Major General) 
James A. Garfield (Civil War-combat veteran-Major General) 
Chester A. Arthur (Civil War-Brigadier General) 
Benjamin Harrison (Civil War-combat veteran- Brevet Brigadier General) 
William McKinley (Civil War-combat veteran-Private, later promoted to officer-Brevet Major) 
Theodore Roosevelt (Spanish-American War-combat veteran-Colonel) 
Harry S. Truman (WW1-combat veteran- Private, later promoted to officer-Colonel) 
John F. Kennedy (WW2-combat veteran- injured when a Japanese ship ran over his patrol boat-Navy Lieutenant) 
Lyndon B. Johnson (WW2-Navy Commander) 
Richard M. Nixon (WW2-Navy Commander) 
Gerald R. Ford (WW2-combat veteran-Navy Lieutenant Commander) 
Ronald W. Reagan (WW2- Private, later promoted to officer-Militia Captain)
George H.W. Bush (WW2-combat veteran-injured when bailing out of his plane when it was shot down by Japanese-enlisted as Seaman, later promoted to officer-Navy Lieutenant, junior grade) 
George W. Bush (Served during the Vietnam War, but not in country-National Guard First Lieutenant) 

Did not serve: 
John Adams 
John Quincy Adams 
Martin Van Buren 
Grover Cleveland (Received a draft notice, but hired a substitute) 
William H. Taft 
Woodrow Wilson 
Warren G. Harding 
Calvin Coolidge 
Herbert Hoover 
Franklin D. Roosevelt (Served as a civilian Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and during World War I sought to join the Navy as an officer, only to have his appeal rejected by President Wilson) 
William J. Clinton (see below...it’s a long story) 
Barack H. Obama (was 12 years old by the time the draft ended) 
Donald J. Trump (received military draft deferments five times-once for bad feet (bone spurs on his heels) and four times for college) 

     Some anti-Clinton sources claim that according to draft records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, William J. Clinton has the distinction of being (among other things) the only pardoned Federal felon ever to serve as President of the United States. 
     According to Snopes, his controversial activities in avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War years of 1968-69 are difficult to trace with certainty because by the time the issue became one of national interest in 1992, reporters and biographers were faced with reconstructing a 25-year-old account from the decades-old memories of those involved and some were dead.  And, Clinton himself often responded to questions on the subject with misleading or inaccurate information...no surprise there!  Here's the story according to Snopes:
     In 1964 as an 18-year-old Clinton registered with the Selective Service in September and was assigned a 2-S (student deferment) because he was a student at Georgetown University.  He was selected to receive a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England, but in February 1968 the federal government eliminated draft deferments for most graduate students, and Clinton would therefore no longer be eligible for additional student deferments after he completed his final term at Georgetown in the spring of 1968. And so he was reclassified as 1-A (fit for military service) in March of 1968. That's when he began looking for ways to weasel out of the draft.
     An uncle pulled some political strings to get him a billet in the Naval Reserves. Clinton never showed up and his uncle told the local Navy Reserve Commander that things had been taken care of "in another way."  A judge in Hot Springs, Arkansas told the draft board to put Clinton's record on hold and it was done.  
     He began his first year at Oxford in October 1968 and in December, Clinton received a notice from the Selective Service instructing him to undergo an armed forces physical examination at a U.S. air base near London, which he took (and passed) on January 13, 1969.       
     In April he received an order to report from the Draft Board, but because the notice had been sent to England via surface mail it was late in arriving, and the assigned reporting date had already passed. 
     I received a notice from my draft board to report for induction into the Army after I had already been in the military for over a year.  At the time I was on a US Navy ship in Europe.
     Clinton had begun another school term and the regulations allowed students who received draft notices to finish out their current terms before reporting. Clinton would be obligated to report for induction after the end of the spring term unless he found an alternative before his new reporting date of July 28, 1969.   
     Clinton headed for Arkansas with slim chances of avoiding the draft. Qualifying as a conscientious objector was out, the local Army National Guard and Reserve units were full. 
     He took physicals for the Air Force and Navy officer programs but failed them both...he was undersize and his eyesite was too bad for the Air Force and his hearing too bad for the Navy.  Joining the advanced ROTC program at the University of Arkansas was out because he had already received an induction notice.  
     However, after pulling some political strings Clinton was accepted into the ROTC program on in July, 1969.  As a result, his draft notice was nullified, and his draft board reclassified him 1-D (reservist deferment) in August, 1969.   
     This is where things get murky, but sometime after returning to Oxford in the Fall of 1969 where he later helped organize anti-war protests in London, he changed his mind and asked his draft board to drop his ROTC deferment and reclassify him 1-A. The logical question is why would he do that?
     The reason was that there were rumors of upcoming policy changes by the Nixon administration that graduate students who received induction notices would be allowed to finish out their school years rather than just the current terms.  Also, Nixon was said to be considering withdrawing 35,000 troops from Vietnam, temporarily suspending the draft, and changing the draft requirements so that only 19-year-olds would be called and only “those draftees who volunteered for service there” would be shipped to Vietnam.  Also, Nixon was supposedly pushing for a draft lottery system which would expose eligible men to the draft for one year only.
    It was a wily political move.  He calculated that he was not risking much by dropping his ROTC commitment in favor of a 1-A classification.

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