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Dukakis Defends His Own Use Of Deferments

August 22, 1988

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) _ Michael Dukakis denied allegations Monday from a New York congressman that the Democratic presidential nominee used college deferments to avoid combat in Korea, saying ″I served my country proudly.″

Dukakis attended Swarthmore College from 1951-55, asking for and receiving deferments in 1952, 1953 and 1954. He said he went to his draft board with several weeks of school left and asked to be drafted immediately.

Dukakis served in the Army for just under two years, including 16 months as part of a United Nations contingent assigned to the demilitarized zone in Korea. The fighting ended in that country in July 1953.

″I served my country, I served my country proudly,″ Dukakis told reporters.

Dukakis pointed out that he could have gotten additional deferments by enrolling in law school but asked to be drafted instead. He was discharged in 1957 and attended Harvard Law School upon his return.

″I was anxious to do my military service,″ he said.

Rep. Jerry Solomon, R-N.Y., ranking GOP member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, called reporters to point out the deferments.

″I just want to point out that Dukakis received his first of three educational deferments eight months before the Korean War ended,″ Solomon said in Chicago, where he was to receive an award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. ″My point is not to point fingers at Dukakis, because what he did was legal. But he avoided combat by using his education deferments. There’s nothing wrong with what he did because it was allowed.

″The point is the press has made a big thing out of Dan Quayle joining the National Guard. (But) Dan Quayle stood a chance of being sent into combat,″ while Dukakis didn’t, Solomon said. ″We really ought to be putting this aside and get on with the seriousness of the campaign. I don’t think the campaign should be bogged down in this non-issue.″

Dukakis said his military background was common knowledge and he dismissed Solomon’s criticism.

″I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a Republican congressman raised it,″ he said. ″It will be up to the Republican Party to explain all this.″

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