Ed Morrisey Jr. has his opinion about rumors President Bush received preferential treatment when he was allowed into the Texas Air National Guard in the late 1960s.
The Blount Countian also has firsthand knowledge.
The 75-year-old Jackson Hills resident is a retired colonel with Texas Air National Guard. He swore Lt. George W. Bush into the service in May 1968.
On Thursday, Morrisey said the argument that Bush got off easy by being in the National Guard doesn't take into consideration the context of the 1960s.
"Bush and the others were flying several flights day or night over the Gulf of Mexico to identify the unknown,'' he said. "The Cold War was a nervous time. You never knew. There were other things going on equally important to the country, and the Air National Guard had a primary role in it.''
Morrisey said the commander he worked for at the unit in Texas was sent there to rebuild the image of the unit. There were only two to four pilot training slots given to them per year, he said. Individuals questioned by an evaluation board and then chosen by the commander had to be the best.
"Bush was selected and he turned out just fine,'' he said.
According to Morrisey, after Bush began working as a fighter pilot, he became regarded as one of the best pilots there. Unit commander Col. Maurice Udell considered Bush to be one of his top five pilots, Morrisey said.
"The kid did good,'' he said.
Each pilot had to perform alert duty where they patrolled for unidentified aircraft during the threat of the Cold War, Morrisey said.
"Bush Jr. did good for us,'' Morrisey said. "He pulled alert and he did it all.''
Morrisey said that while Bush didn't get preferential treatment, not everyone was allowed into the National Guard.
"We wanted the best we could get. We never knowingly took an unworthy individual in the units I belonged to,'' he said. "You're only as good your worst individual.''
This isn't the first time a reporter called Morrisey asking whether or not Bush received preferential treatment. Shortly after Republicans nominated Bush for president in 2000, a reporter from Texas called Morrisey.
"That floored me. The only people that got preferential treatment was when Jimmy Carter pardoned those guys that went to Canada,'' he said of individuals who fled to Canada to avoid the draft during the war in Vietnam.
Speaking of the controversy surrounding Bush's Guard service during the Vietnam era, Morrisey said: ``I think it's tragic. I think real people can filter through this. At least I hope so.''
Morrisey said he agreed with Bush's work as president and supported the administration's aggressive stance toward fighting terrorism and the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We've got to eliminate terrorists,'' he said. "Let's get them where they're living instead of them getting my grandkids and great-grandkids here.''
Morrisey worked as the executive officer of the 147th Fighter Group from February of 1967 to July of 1968. From Texas he came to Alcoa where he was the first commandant of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base. He also was "dedicated to the development'' of the Air National Guard Leadership School and the Officer Preparatory Academy to commission Air Guard officers.
He was commandant for all three schools and became the first commander of the I.G. Brown Professional Military Education Center.
Morrisey has been involved in the community, including being a former member of the Blount Chamber of Commerce, president of the Maryville Kiwanis Club, Blount County Boys Club board member and on the ALCOA Scholarship Selection Committee.
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