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STATE DEPARTMENT

Bush bio on Web inflates Guard service

Questions remain about President Bush's long-ago service in the Texas Air National Guard. But the basic outline of his Guard service is not in dispute: After a year in flight school, Bush spent five months learning how to fly an F-102 fighter-interceptor and then 22 months as a part-time pilot. He stopped flying in April 1972 -- 30 months before his formal commitment would normally have ended.

Nonetheless, the biography of Bush on the US State Department's website credits him with almost six years in the F-102's cockpit -- two years on active duty flying the plane and nearly four more years of part-time service as an F-102 pilot. The websites of at least five American embassies -- those in Germany, Italy, Pakistan, Vietnam, and South Korea -- use the identical language, even though Bush spent barely two years flying the airplane.

After the 2000 election, when evidence of Bush's abbreviated flying career and his propensity to miss required drills became public, the presidential biography written for the White House website made no mention of the period of Bush's service, only that he served as an F-102 pilot.

But the State Department biography of Bush, which has been on its website since 2001, makes the president out to be more of a frequent flyer than the embellished account in Bush's 1999 autobiography, "A Charge To Keep." In that book, Bush said he flew with his unit for "the next several years" after his five months of training on the F-102 concluded in June 1970.

The errant biography on the State Department website was called to the Globe's attention yesterday by Hugh E. Scott, a retired Continental Airlines captain and former Air Force pilot from Newbury Park, Calif.

The State Department site -- http://usinfo.state.gov/products/

pubs/presbush/bio -- says that before Bush graduated from Yale in 1968, "he went to the offices of the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington Air Force Base outside Houston to sign up for pilot training. One motivation, he said, was to learn to fly, as his father had done during World War II." It continues: "George W. was commissioned as a second lieutenant and spent two years on active duty, flying F-102 fighter interceptors. For almost four years after that, he was on a part-time status, flying occasional missions to help the Air National Guard keep two of its F-102s on round-the-clock alert."

Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, asked yesterday about that language, said: "It does not reflect the facts of his service. It will be corrected."

Globe correspondent Bill Dedman contributed to this report.

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