August 13, 2004
An Odd Coincidence

I always thought that the members of the U.S. military sent to fight in Viet Nam were required to serve a full twelve months, and that they could not expect to come home even one day earlier than the 365th day unless they did so in a coffin, on a stretcher, or (for those caught fragging their officers or slaughtering civilians) in handcuffs and leg-irons. No doubt there are exceptions to every rule, but it's odd that the last two Democratic nominees for president have both been exceptions to this one: in fact, they served less than the standard full year between them.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at August 13, 2004 09:22 PM

I thought it was a standard 6-month tour.

But then, I always thought the Purple Heart was for serious combat wounds, not for minor cuts and scrapes that I'd treat with Mercurochrome and a bandaid.

Posted by: markm on August 14, 2004 08:00 AM

Through most of the war, US Army tours were 12 months. The Marines' tours were 13 months.

Posted by: Robin Roberts on August 16, 2004 01:18 PM

Gore's tour was delayed several months because the Nixon White House didn't want Gore's father, who was running for re-election, to benefit by having a son serving in Viet Nam. After Senator Gore lost the election, Al Gore was sent overseas. He returned on the date he was originally scheduled because the DoD didn't alter its rotation system for anyone, not even the President.

Posted by: Xboy on August 16, 2004 09:50 PM

Not quite. According to Snopes:

[Gore biographer] Bob Zelnick says this claim is baseless, as a 27 September 1970 article in the Nashville Tennessean reported that Gore had "received orders to go to Vietnam." These claims may or may not be mutually exclusive, but either way, the fact is that Al Gore was not sent to Vietnam until the very end of 1970, only seven months before his term of enlistment ended...

Gore filled his position with the 20th Engineers for five months. Army regulations at the time allowed for early discharge of personnel who wanted to teach or attend school if their services were considered "not essential to the mission." As a reporter, Gore was certainly not "essential" to the war effort, and he applied for such a discharge.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein on August 17, 2004 09:54 PM