Here is a Republican Candidate riddle for you; what do Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum (+ Rudy Giuliani, if he were to run) ALL have in common? The only uniform any of them might have donned is for the Scouts! Of the GOP likelies, only Texas Gov Rick Perry and Texas Congressman Ron Paul have ever served, both were in the Air Force.
Perry was commissioned in 1972 out of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets ROTC program and after completing pilot training, flew C-130 tactical airlift in the States, Middle East, and Europe. He left the Air Force in 1977as a captain.
Ron Paul, a medical doctor, was an Air Force flight surgeon from 1963 to 65 and fulfilled the rest of his military obligation in the Air National Guard until 1968. He served during but not in Vietnam.
Romney, Gingrich, and Cain (+ Giuliani, if he runs) are all in a special category because they were all of prime draft age during the Vietnam War but each piled deferment upon deferment to avoid any brush with danger. I would point out that draft quotas were assigned by draft board so when one man evaded, someone else, often less educated or advantaged and always less eligible, served in his place. Additionally, because many of the more capable natural leaders avoided service, we often had to settle for the LT Cally’s of the world for leadership. Think of how many American lives could have been saved if leaders of these folks’ potential had done their duty. Isn’t it ironic how correct President Clinton was when he used to say that “it’s the little guy who plays by the rules that always ends up taking it in the neck.”
As the Vietnam War raged, Romney (Born: 12 March 1947) received a draft deferment for 2 ½ years from July 1966 until February 1969 as a Mormon missionary in France and before and after his missionary deferment he received 3 years of college deferments. When his deferments finally ran out in December 1970 and he became draft eligible, he drew a high number in the newly instituted lottery system which ensured he would never have to serve. Mormon missionary deferments were very controversial in the late 1960s because the substantial number of them made the likelihood of non-Mormons going to Vietnam much greater. Romney has said he would have served if he had been drafted but in an interview had the gall to state: "I was supportive of my country. I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam." There was an easy cure to alleviate his frustration -- sign up! It should be noted that avoiding Military service has been something of a Romney family tradition. Of prime age for WWII, his father skillfully avoided service (although a big VN War supporter) and his grandfather did the same for WWI. None of Romney’s five sons have ever served and when recently asked about his sons’ lack of service he responded: “they show their patriotism by helping me get elected!” How’s that for an answer?
Although the stepson of a career military officer, Gingrich (Born 17 June 1943) went through extraordinary machinations to avoid his service obligation. At age 19, Newt married his 26 year old high school geometry teacher who he had secretly dated while in high school and quickly had two daughters. His fatherhood and stay in college through a PhD kept him safely out the military during the entire Vietnam War. Newt hit the jackpot here because he not only had a “meal ticket” in college but a guaranteed perpetual deferment.
Cain (Born: 13 December 1945) took a little different route to his deferments. After losing his student deferments when he graduated from college in 1967, he immediately went to work as a Department of the Navy civilian employee so received occupational deferments until the draft ended. He was never in uniform nor in any danger of being shipped out to Vietnam.
Giuliani (Born: 28 May 1944) is another one that skillfully strung deferment upon deferment to ensure he never had to serve. He had student deferments through college and law school and when he finally graduated from NYU Law in 1968, so ran out of deferments, he went to work as a law clerk for a Federal Judge who used his influence to get his draft board to grant him a civilian occupation deferment. Giuliani safely sat out the Vietnam War hunkered down in the New York Federal Courthouse in Manhattan. Sure beat dodging VC bullets in a rice paddy!
As for the rest of the field: Pawlenty (Born 27 Nov 1960), Bachmann (Born: 6 April 1956) and Santorum (Born: 10 May 1958), none were subject to the draft nor have any first hand military or defense related experience. All could have served if motivated to by patriotism but none bothered. With the exception of Santorum who (with Ted Kennedy) tried to screw disabled and disadvantaged retired enlisted by hiding an amendment in an unrelated bill to require the Old Soldiers' Home in Washington, DC to almost give away property to Catholic University (see below for a full explanation of this fiasco), none have shown any overt hostility to the military but all would require extensive OJT on defense matters if elected. Then again, all have as much defense knowledge as President Obama had when he assumed the Commander-in-Chief Mantle.
Bottom line, Rick Perry and Ron Paul are the only ones that wouldn’t have to learn how to salute upon becoming Commander-in-Chief!