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Did McCalister join reserves to avoid Vietnam?

Despite his denunciations and push-back, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McCalister continues to face veterans questioning his military record. The latest comes in a release by the Stolen Valor Task Force, which says it is not backing any candidate in the race. Today they sent out this:

Former Army Captain Ed Maxwell, who served as an enlisted man prior to being commissioned and serving a 19 month combat tour in Vietnam was emphatic about McCalister’s claim of enlisted active duty service. “All of Mike McCalister’s enlisted service was limited to reserve component Active Duty for training going though his initial basic training, and attending 2 week training periods with his units. Only active duty performed in an active component unit, or as a member of a mobilized Guard or Reserve unit counted for veterans’ status during the Vietnam era. McCalister did not qualify for veterans status until 1992, after serving a 2 years as an ROTC instructor at Florida A&M University as a major.” Maxwell who is also a Vietnam Veterans organization leader, added: “I have had it with McCalister’s charges and innuendos against us. I can not conclusively prove Mike’s actual motives for initially joining the Guard in 1971, but I can offer some strong evidence to base conclusions on. The facts are that in 1971, Guard units were extremely unlikely to be activated and sent to Vietnam. Joining the Guard gained exemption from the draft. After 4 to 6 months of active duty, a Reservist or Guardsman returned to their communities as part-time soldiers and resumed their normal lives. During the draft lottery, Selective Service drafted young men who drew lottery numbers, based on birth dates. Mike McCalister’s number gave him a very high probability of being drafted, at about the same time he joined the Guard.”


We haven't received a response from the McCalister campaign yet, but the Plant City Republican briefly addressed his military experience in an August Political Connections interview on Bay News 9, when he still looked like the longest of long shots. The clip is above.


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The attacks on this man have no reached Dan Rather status. Disgusting how this country treats its veterans.

Chuck Winn

The specific conclusion the SVTF reached was that McCalsiter probably joined the Guard to avoid being drafted. That would have been a more precise story line. This is strongly supported by Ed Maxwell's research of Selective Service data compared against Mike McCalister's birth date, indicating that his number was 100; and that in many regions of the country young men Mike's age with numbers up to 125 were drafted. The SVTF also recognizes that U.S. troop withdrawals were accelerated in 1971-72 making odds for a draftee being sent to Vietnam much less likely. However, Guardsmen returned home after their 4 to 6 month initial active duty for training. Their peers who were drafted still were subjected to world-wide assignment, to many undesirable locations besides Vietnam. Having proudly served briefly as an active duty enlisted man myself during that era, I was as outraged as Ed's to learn of McCalister's Jan 28, 2011 statement to the Volusia 9-12 project: "I did it all, Private E1 active duty;".

Chuck Winn

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