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AL GORE IN VIET NAM

Having posted a little tickler in last week's Digest about Al Gore's "141 days in Vietnam," The Federalist Editorial Board was inundated with inquiries from Vietnam vets. Most went something like this:

"Gore claimed in his convention speech: 'I enlisted in the Army because I knew if I didn't go, someone else in the small town of Carthage, Tennessee would have to go in my place.' Since he wasn't KIA or wounded, how was it that his Army tour was far shorter than all the rest of us?"

Our astute veteran readers took the bait! Gore's campaign launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign this week to tell his "life story." The ads will include references to his service" in Vietnam -- however brief. Gore spent less than five months of a typical twelve-month tour in Vietnam. He spent every minute of his "tour" as a "rear-echelon...." (call any combat veteran and they can complete that phrase for you). He was classified as a military journalist after telling recruiters he was a "newspaper trainee" (read "copy boy") for the New York Times while a student at Harvard. He was assigned as a noncombatant "information specialist" to the Army's 20th Engineers Brigade headquarters at Bien Hoa military base near Saigon.

Gore's immediate supervisor in Vietnam has confirmed that his posting there came with explicit instructions to baby-sit him and make sure he was never in any danger. That fact notwithstanding, Gore has claimed to the Washington Post that he was "shot at" and "spent most of my time in the field." He later told the Baltimore Sun that, "[I] pulled my turn on the perimeter at night and walked through the elephant grass and I was fired upon." He has since backed off these exaggerated claims.

On May 22, 1971, not five months into his "tour of duty," Gore was given special dispensation and a one-way ticket home to attend divinity school in Nashville. He dropped out of Vanderbilt shortly thereafter. As for the seven months cut from Gore's tour of duty in Vietnam, we suppose "someone else in the small town of Carthage, Tennessee" had to finish his tour "in his place."