The only son of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen Jr., the Democratic vice presidential candidate, was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 as a financial officer after being told of a rare opening by the unit's top officer, according to the Dukakis campaign.
Responding to a reporter's inquiry, Marilyn Yaeger, communications director for Bentsen's campaign, said Lloyd Bentsen III was told of the opening by Lt. Col. Walter Staudt, commander of the Texas Air National Guard at the time.The two men met at a party in 1968 at about the time Bentsen was graduating from Stanford University with a master's degree in business administration.
Bentsen, who had been turned down previously for a pilot's position in the Guard because of colorblind-ness, told Staudt that he was still interested in joining the Guard in some other capacity, Yaeger said.
"Staudt told Bentsen that he just happened to have an opening in his accounting division and suggested he apply," Yaeger said.
Bentsen served as a financial analyst at the unit's base in Houston from June 14, 1968, to Nov. 2, 1974, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of captain, according to records at the Texas National Guard headquarters in Austin.
When questioned in Texas about whether he had exercised any influence in his son's admission to the Guard, Sen. Bentsen said, "absolutely not."
At the time of the younger Bentsen's enlistment, there was a waiting list to join, said Gen. Thomas S. Bishop, adjutant general for the Texas National Guard. But Bishop, now retired and living in Austin, said no special favors would have been needed for Bentsen to have been accepted.
"If the unit involved a particular specialty, and I'd say accounting would be one, then it's likely we didn't have many eligible applicants and a person wouldn't have had to wait very long at all," Bishop said.
The oldest son of Vice President Bush, George Bush Jr., was a pilot in the same Guard unit as Bentsen, serving from May 1968 through September 1973.