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Reagan's War Record

February 01, 1987

The views of Ronald Reagan expressed by Al Delugach in his coverage of Garry Wills' book "Reagan's America" (The Book Review, Jan. 18) are not consistent with mine, but that is neither here nor there. I would, however, appreciate a little space to speak out on something alluded to in the review that I believe to be completely false.

Reagan did not tell Israeli officials that he had photographed Nazi death camps. He used the word we in talking about footage shot by the Signal Corps when asked if he knew of the atrocities. "I know it's true because we shot that stuff," we in this case meaning "our guys."

Reagan's military record is a respectable one. In 1935, he joined the 14th Cavalry Regiment in Des Moines, and he served continuously as a reserve officer until he assumed active duty on April 14, 1942. Because of his eyesight--by then he wore contact lenses--he was disqualified from combat duty. He was assigned to the production of training films and the training of combat camera units, proving that the Army does occasionally put a man in the right pigeonhole. He was discharged on Dec. 9, 1945, with the rank of captain.

I am the author of "Ronald Reagan: The Hollywood Years" (Citadel Press, 1981), and unlike Garry Wills, I did spend a fair amount of time with my subject. Reagan told me precisely of his wartime duties, which research later confirmed, and he did not allude to ever having been overseas.

TONY THOMAS

Burbank

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