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Vietnam Deserter

February 13, 1996

* There are two mitigating factors in the desertion of Marine Cpl. Donald J. Bailey. Bailey's countrymen collectively turned their backs on him before he turned his back on them. And ss stated in The Times of Feb. 7, President Carter, himself once a line officer in the Navy, gave blanket pardon to draft dodgers who had not yet experienced the rigors of military service or faced hostile fire.

There is a kicker to be added here. We have currently three national figures who, though legally, finagled provisions in the Vietnam era draft law to avoid military service: our current president, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas). There are probably more.

Some cut and run. Some manipulate the draft law. Others serve, face enemy fire, view piles of dead buddies, cut and run, then return to pay their dues.

CHARLES H. GULLETT

San Clemente

* Thank you for your service, Cpl. Bailey. Welcome home.

TOM GEMBERLING

Los Angeles

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