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Read About Al Gore's Military Service

Gore Faced Enemy Fire in Vietnam?

The Gore Lie

“And I was shot at. . . . I spent most of my time in the field.” (Al Gore, The Washington Post, 2/3/88)

“I carried an M-16 . . . I pulled my turn on the perimeter at night and walked through the elephant grass, and I was fired upon.” (Al Gore, Los Angeles Times, 10/15/99)

The Truth

Gore No Longer Mentions Combat Duty on the Campaign Trail.

“On the campaign trail today, while he suggests no combat heroics, he nonetheless mentions his service in Vietnam proudly.” (Los Angeles Times, 10/15/99)

Gore Had Bodyguards Assigned to Keep Him Out of Harm’s Way in Vietnam. “In Vietnam, Alan Leo, a photographer in the press brigade office where Gore worked as a reporter, said he was summoned by Brig. Gen. K.B. Cooper, the 20th Engineer Brigade’s Commander, and told Leo that he, Cooper, ‘had a great amount of respect for the senator.’ He asked Leo, the most experienced member of the press unit, to make sure that nothing happened to Gore. ‘He requested that “Gore not get into situations that were dangerous,’” said Leo, who did what he could to carry out Cooper’s directive. He described his half-dozen or so trips into the field with Gore as situations where ‘I could have worn a tuxedo.’” (Newsweek, 12/6/99)

Courtesy: Republican Nation Committee

Gore Got VIP Treatment in Vietnam, Army Buddy Tells

NEWSMAX.COM - Al Gore's Vietnam tour of duty was cut in half because he was the son of a powerful U.S. senator, according to a Vietnam veteran who served with him.

In an exclusive interview with Friday, Henry Alan Leo also claimed that he acted as Gore's "security escort" on the battlefield, but took issue with a Los Angeles Times characterization of him as Gore's Vietnam "bodyguard."

Still, even with that clarification, Gore's onetime army buddy left little doubt that the Washington VIP's son received special treatment while "in country" and challenged assertions that Gore was sent home early merely because his unit had been deactivated.

Gore served in Vietnam as a reporter with the 20th Engineers Brigade from Jan. 8 to May 24, 1971, when he was honorably discharged. His unit, headquartered in Bien Hoa, some 20 miles northeast of Saigon, was deactivated in April 1971 -- a development Vice President Gore's defenders have cited to justify his early departure.

The normal Army tour of duty in Vietnam was 12 months.

Henry Alan Leo was attached to the 20th Engineers as a photographer and, having been in country since October 1969, was one of the more senior members of the brigade when Gore arrived. When asked to explain how Gore got out more than six months early, Leo told, "If your dad is a senator, you can do anything."

What about Gore's unit being deactivated?

"He could have come right back down and gone to Engineer Command Headquarters, which was the next command up," Leo said. "That's what the rest of us in the 20th Engineers did.

"He got out 'cause of his dad," the Vietnam veteran repeated without equivocation. Al Gore Sr. was U.S. senator from Tennessee at the time.

Leo said he was dismayed by the special handling Gore received in Vietnam, treatment that included a general's request that Leo look after Gore because he was the son of a powerful politician. "I was shocked that someone would get that kind of treatment over in a combat zone.

I thought we were all, you know, under the same flag. In my opinion, I thought nobody should be getting that kind of treatment." Leo said that he was never specifically assigned to be Gore's "bodyguard," as the Los Angeles Times had reported on Oct. 15. "I was never ordered to be a bodyguard. As far as I know, Gore never had any bodyguards," Leo told

"I was asked to be, more or less, a security escort, because I had a lot more time in country and I already had multiple tours over there."

The Times reported that at least one other soldier besides Leo was warned that a senator's son, whose safety would be a priority, was joining the 20th Engineers. Last week, asked Michael O'Hara, described in press accounts as Gore's best friend in the unit, about reports that Gore had bodyguards while in Vietnam. O'Hara refused to confirm or deny the allegation.

Leo told that O'Hara and Gore were fast friends but wasn't sure whether he was the other brigade member who was told to watch out for the senator's son.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth B. Cooper personally requested that Leo take precautions to see that no harm came to Gore during a one-on-one meeting.

"It was natural for Gen. Cooper to make the request. Once again, it was never a direct order, for me to keep an eye out for Al Gore -- just to make sure that he did not get into any situations that we might have difficulty extracting ourselves from."

Leo took pains to not to exaggerate his role. "I wasn't like a bodyguard where I was going to take a bullet for the guy. I wouldn't do that for anybody. But it was just a matter of not letting Gore get caught out there in a situation where something might happen."

Gen. Cooper's request that Leo protect Gore was an honor in Leo's view:

"Wow, I thought. Here the general thinks I have a good reputation. I lived on the edge. I liked being out in the field, but I used a lot of common sense. And I learned a lot while I was out there. So I was a natural survivor. And I believe that to be the real reason for my being asked to keep an eye out on Gore."

Leo said he was also the natural choice to be Gore's security escort because, as the unit photographer, he would have accompanied Gore on field interviews anyway. As it happened, they never found themselves in any close-call situations. "I'd say that most of the areas we went into were relatively secure already," Leo told

For Leo, Gore's special treatment was merely another example of Washington business as usual. "As a general rule, the military jumps when Congress requires it to do so. So it doesn't surprise me that a senator had enough power to pull strings to ease his son's way anywhere."

Still, the Vietnam veteran bears Gore no ill will today. Leo said that after he got to know him, the future vice president seemed like "just one of the guys." After a while, it became "second nature" for him to see that Gore was kept in "an OK situation."

Should the revelation that Gore got kid-gloves care in Vietnam while others had to take their chances be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign? Leo doesn't think so.

"Yes, I think it was unfair that he got special treatment. But it wasn't like I was told to guard this guy with my life. It was a simple matter of wanting us to take special caution to make sure that Gore didn't get into situations that may require a combat effort."

Now, Henry Alan Leo looks back on the entire episode with a jaundiced view. "That was 30 years ago. It's not important to me now. I'm a native Washingtonian. Politics has always been a dirty word to me regardless of who the politicians are."


Gore Considered Fleeing to Canada to Avoid Vietnam

NEWSMAX.COM - Before he enlisted in the Army in 1969, Vice President Al Gore considered dodging the draft and fleeing his country.

According to a 1992 wire report reviewed by "Gore had just graduated from Harvard and shared an opposition to the war with much of his generation.

According to many accounts, Gore carefully weighed his options, and even briefly considered fleeing to Canada, as many did to avoid the draft." (Associated Press, July 29, 1992)

Rumors that Gore considered the Canada option have swirled since last Thursday, when a C-SPAN caller who identified himself only as a former Gore aide claimed to know the behind-the-scenes story of why the vice president changed his mind and decided to enlist.

According to the caller's account, Gore's father advised him that seeking asylum in Canada would destroy his political viability and promised that if he enlisted no harm would come to him.

Before President Carter granted amnesty to Vietnam draft-dodgers in 1978, those who fled the country were not allowed to return.

In a report that lends some credibility to another aspect of the caller's account, several of Gore's Vietnam colleagues told the Los Angeles Times last month that they were assigned to act as his "bodyguards." If true, the vice president's physical risk while in Vietnam was indeed minimized, just as his father had allegedly promised.

"It blew me away," H. Alan Leo told the Times. "I was to make sure he didn't get into a situation he could not get out of. They didn't want him to get into trouble. So we went into the field after the fact {after combat actions), and that limited his exposure to any hazards. (See: Al Gore Had Bodyguards Protecting Him in Vietnam --, Nov. 13)

Vietnam had an impact on political viability for both father and son.

At the time of Gore's enlistment, his father was in the fight of his political life. Sen. Gore had opposed the war early on, which had made him increasingly unpopular in conservative Tennessee. In an apparent attempt to compensate for his own antiwar position, the senator had his son appear in campaign ads wearing military fatigues after young Gore had enlisted.

His family has always insisted that Gore's decision to volunteer for the Army had nothing to do with political considerations.

Still, young Albert was scheduled to ship out by Election Day, which couldn't hurt with voters who viewed Vietnam service as the ultimate patriotic act.

But Gore's orders were delayed. In a 1988 Washington Post interview, Gore family members said they suspected that President Nixon had delayed a 1969 Vietnam call-up solely to deny Gore's father any benefit at the polls from having a son at the battlefront.

Gore himself told the Post, "All I know is I was not allowed to go until the first departure date after the November election." Gore's father lost the election.


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