- Did Al Gore serve in Vietnam? Yes, he did. He spent five
months there as a reporter/journalist.
- "Mr. Gore enlisted in the Army on Aug. 7, 1969,
reporting to Fort Dix, N.J. He was based at Fort Rucker, Ala., working
as an information specialist. For a reason neither he nor the military
can explain, Mr. Gore would remain at Fort Rucker for a lengthy period
awaiting orders." "When they finally came, he would spend less
than five months in Vietnam, arriving on Jan. 8, 1971, to write newspaper
and magazine articles. He was discharged on May 24, 1971." (The Washington
Times National Weekly Edition Nov. 28 - Dec. 4, 1994)
- A five month stay in Vietnam is less than half the normal
tour. Gore asked for and received an "early out" that May at
a time when the 20th Engineers were standing down as part of a gradual
U.S. troop reduction. (Washington Post. 12/31/99 pg. A1)
- I know what people are thinking. They're probably thinking,
"So? Your point is....?" The point is, I believe that Gore has
misrepresented his Vietnam activities. Gore stated that he was "shot
at" and that "I spent most of my time in the field" (The
Washington Post, 2/3/88). In a March 1988 Vanity Fair article, Gore described
his travel to various firebases where members of his engineering company
were at work: "I took my turn regularly on the perimeter in these
little firebases out in the boonies. Something would move, we'd fire first
and ask questions later." Gore also stated to the Baltimore Sun that,
"I pulled my turn on the perimeter at night and walked through the
elephant grass, and I was fired upon." (reported in the Los Angeles
Times 10/15/99 and The Washington Post 12/31/99) Gore had an M-16 rifle
assigned to him, which he carried on only a few occasions. However, Gore
refers to having an M-16 assigned to him, as well showing photographs of
him with the rifle in political ads, as if carrying or using the rifle
was something he did on a regular basis. (The Washington Post 12/31/99,
The Washington Post 6/27/99)
- According to Michael O'Hara, Gore's closest army buddy,
"We never pulled guard duty in the field because we weren't part of
those units. The only place we stood guard was back at Bien Hoa,"
the secure base where Gore lived. "It was the equivalent of being
a school crossing guard. I know guys that didn't even take their rifles
with them." (The National Review, November, 1999) Other soldiers with
long experience in Vietnam said that Gore was treated differently from
his fellow enlistees. H. Alan Leo, a photographer in the press brigade
office where Gore worked as a reporter, said soldiers were ordered to serve
as Gore's bodyguards, to keep him out of harm's way. "It blew me away,"
Leo said. "I was to make sure he didn't get into a situation he could
not get out of. They didn't want him to get into trouble. So we went into
the field after the fact [after combat actions], and that limited his exposure
to any hazards." (Los Angeles Times 10/15/99) Leo described his half-dozen
or so trips into the field with Gore as situations where "I could
have worn a tuxedo." (Newsweek, 12/6/99) Gore's story changed to
the more "accurate" version in his October 1999 interview with
Talk magazine, though he wasn't asked why the story has now changed.
- In Gore's first debate with Bill Bradley in October,
1999, Gore emphasized numerous times that he "came back from Vietnam."
Do people really believe that this wasn't mentioned to give to give the
impression that he went to Vietnam and fought for a period of time? Why
else would he continually mention this?
- Other statements about Gore's service also lead to the
conclusion that he served in a combat role. In a Hardball rebroadcast on
September 6, 1999, Chris Matthews, when speaking to Pat Buchanan, stated,
"He [Al Gore] also fought in Vietnam, I mean, he served in Vietnam
in a military capacity." This comment was preceded by a discussion
of the baby boomer generation, and Pat Buchanan's comments about how many
baby boomers fought in Vietnam. In November 1998, Gore attended an unveiling
of three new postage stamps which recalled the fighting men of World War
II and those who supported them on the home front. Gore is referred to
as a Vietnam Veteran. (http://caller-times.com/autoconv/newsus98/newsus145.html)
Yes, Gore is a Vietnam Veteran, but if Gore is at a ceremony which honors
those who have fought in combat, and he is then referred to as a veteran,
does this not imply that he too, fought in combat?
- This of course isn't meant to be misleading -- right?
I am sure he assumes everyone will realize that he served by spending five
months writing articles. When Gore talks about "serving in Vietnam"
and "carrying an M-16" and "being shot at" I'm sure
he isn't expecting that people will assume he fought in combat, right?
- Sure, and I have a private jet in my backyard. Really.
A water jet on my sprinkler system! I am sure that by saying "jet"
everyone assumed I was referring to my sprinkler, right?
- People have also e-mailed me and claimed that Republicans
such as Dan Quayle dodged the draft while Gore served his country. "Quayle
and others just served in the National Guard," they cry. "They
got preferential treatment because of who they were!" First, many
people legally signed up for the National Guard instead of waiting for
their draft notice. It wasn't just a "way for the rich to avoid serving"
as some people often conclude. In fact, some National Guard units were
called into combat. Company D, the most highly decorated Army in Vietnam,
was a National Guard unit from Muncie, Indiana. Obviously, the chance of
being called to Vietnam if one was in the National Guard was slim, but
some units were called. I doubt those in Company D, who lost their lives
in Vietnam, would be considered draft-dodgers. In addition, if one voluntarily
enlisted in the Army, rather than taking a chance and waiting for a draft
notice, he usually was not sent into combat and was instead given behind-the-lines
- Secondly, if people believe that those who enlisted in
the National Guard "got in" because of preferential treatment,
then they should acknowledge that Gore may have also received preferential
treatment. If people conclude that entrance to the National Guard was based
on preference, then they should acknowledge that it may not just be a coincidence
that Al Gore, son of Senator Al Gore, landed a spot as a journalist for
- I must emphasize that the issue is not the fact that
Gore served in Vietnam as a journalist, but that he and others, I feel,
have tried to misrepresent his level of service. It is also hypocritical
to on one hand, paint anyone who served in the National Guard as a draft-dodger
who obtained preferential treatment, and on the other hand, deny that Gore
could have benefited the same way.
- If people want to talk about draft dodgers, perhaps they
ought to start a discourse about Bill Clinton.
- This article copyright © 1999-2000 by Carolyn Gargaro
and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent
of its author. All rights reserved.
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