Official Put Slot on Hold For Quayle; Guard Below Capacity With AM-Quayle, Bjt
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The Indiana National Guard was below its authorized strength when Dan Quayle signed up in May 1969, officials said Tuesday. Even so, a retired Guard officer said he directed subordinates to hold an opening for Quayle.
Maj. Gen. Alfred Ahner said Tuesday he handled a call from a family employee who recommended Quayle and then he contacted the Guard personnel office. ″They said they had a couple of spaces,″ Ahner told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ″I said hold one of them, there’s a good guy coming over.″
Ahner also said in an interview with WTHR-TV, ″I couldn’t have done a thing ... if there hadn’t been a vacancy.″
The issue of whether Quayle used family influence to gain admittance to the Guard, thus avoiding a likely draft summons at the height of the Vietnam War, has dogged Quayle since he was named last week to the Republican presidential ticket.
A 1969 Guard report circulating here indicated that the Indiana Guard was overextended in mid-1969, but a month-by-month breakdown made available on Tuesday showed that Quayle’s specific unit had legitimate openings when he joined up in May, and in the months before and after.
Capt. Cathi Kiger said Quayle’s Guard unit had an authorized strength of 138 people in May 1969. According to Guard records, 134 men were in the unit at the end of April, 132 were serving in May - when Quayle joined - and 133 men were enlisted in June.
The Pentagon in Washington further said that Quayle’s public information unit of the Guard - authorized for a staff of five - had three individuals assigned to it before Quayle and another man brought it to full strength in January 1970.
The figures were made available after publication of the 1969 report from Brig. Gen. John N. Owens, then adjutant general of the Guard, which put the Guard’s assigned strength on June 30, 1969, at 10,255 - 52 more than its authorized strength of 10,203.
″Due to some overstrength, recruiting has been authorized on a limited basis since 1 April 1969, however, it is anticipated that large scale recruiting will be conducted to replace approximately 2,500 individuals by the end of (current year) 1969,″ the Owens report said.
″I can find no evidence that he was given special consideration and there was no need,″ Kiger said of Quayle’s Guard service. ″Units that were not up to 100 percent strength could continue to recruit.″
Retired Col. Jerome Rafferty, director of personnel for Owens in 1969, said, ″That would mean that if you have a well qualified man like Dan Quayle, that would be exceptional. You can always get cooks and drivers. They’re a lot easier to get than doctors and lawyers.″
Quayle was not an attorney when he applied for the Guard. In fact, had he not gained admission to the Guard, he likely would have been drafted into Vietnam war service.
″The unit Senator Quayle served in was a specialized unit,″ Rafferty said. ″He could have been recruited very simply for the fact that he got a college degree, was in law school and had a newspaper background.″
The public information unit produced press releases and a quarterly magazine, The Indiana National Guardsman.
Rafferty said the then-22-year-old Quayle’s background - he is an heir of the Pulliam newspaper family - made him a good candidate for the Guard, but said his personnel staff also welcomed recommendations from high-ranking officers.
Retired Maj. Gen. Wendell C. Phillippi, who was managing editor of the family’s Indianapolis News, has said he made one call on Quayle’s behalf.
″If General Phillippi or any of the generals called me and said they knew a man who would make a good Guardsman, I’d prick my ears,″ said Rafferty, ″because they only sent the highest quality young man. That’s the way the system worked.″
Phillippi contacted retired Maj. Gen. Ahner, who said Tuesday:
″Wendell Phillipp had called and said he had a good man, and said he thought he’d make a good Guardsman. That’s when I went over to personnel ... I asked if they had any spaces for a good man.
″They said they had a couple of spaces. I said hold one of them, there’s a good guy coming over.″
Rafferty said it was degrading to allege that Quayle used family connections to secure a spot with the Guard as a means to avoid the draft.
″Why degrade a man who, because he went to college, was smart enough to do the best thing?″ Rafferty asked. ″He wanted to finish his law career. I’d have done the same thing.″