Sen. Dan Quayle (Ind.), the Republican vice presidential nominee, had already passed his pre-induction physical the spring of his senior year in college and was in line to be drafted when a family friend helped gain him a slot in the Indiana National Guard, according to records released yesterday.
Seeking to maintain its quota of inductees at the height of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war, the Huntington County, Ind., draft board called Quayle, then a 22-year-old senior at DePauw University, for his physical on April 9, 1969, less than two months before he graduated and his student deferment expired, according to Selective Service records.
Quayle passed the physical, which meant he was eligible to be drafted any time after May 25, his graduation day.
"His chances of going in probably would have been pretty good . . . , " said Linda Stelvey, spokeswoman for the Selective Service System in Washington, after examining Quayle's draft records. "There was nothing to keep him out should he be called."
Quayle entered the National Guard on May 19, 1969, after the managing editor of a newspaper owned by Quayle's grandfather, Wendell C. Phillippi, telephoned Guard officials on his behalf. Before joining the newspaper, Phillippi, a retired Army major general, had commanded the Indiana National Guard. His intervention on Quayle's behalf has raised questions about whether Quayle used his family's influence to avoid being drafted and serving in combat.
However, a former top Guard official said yesterday that Quayle would not have needed political influence to get into the unit he joined because it was below its assigned strength at the time.
Robert Moorhead, the former commanding general of the Indiana Guard's 38th Infantry Division, said a review of Guard records show that the headquarters detachment had 136 authorized slots at the end of May 1969, but only 132 of those positions were filled.
"There was no waiting list," Moorhead said. "The unit was listed under strength, and anybody could have walked in off the street and gotten into this unit" if they qualified.
However, other former Guard officials disputed Moorhead and said the headquarters detachment was among the most highly coveted assignments in the Indiana Guard and would have been among the most difficult to join.
"That was the glory unit . . . and long waiting lists were quite common during that time," said David Reyman, a former Indiana Guard unit administrator in Newcastle, Ind. "It was not unusual for somebody to put pressure on a commander to get somebody in."
At a news conference in his home town of Huntington, Ind., yesterday, Quayle said that during his senior year he called his parents and expressed his interest in going into the Guard and "we communicated that to Mr. Phillippi."
In an interview Thursday night, Phillippi acknowledged calling Guard officials. "I'm a close personal friend of the Quayle family. And I wanted to do what I could to help," Phillippi said. He said he did not remember when he made the call, but believes it would have been about "a month or two" before Quayle entered.
James C. Quayle, the senator's father, said yesterday that he does not recall his son calling him about the Guard, but added, "if Danny said it happened, it happened."
The new information leaves some confusion about the sequence of events that led to Quayle joining the National Guard. At his news conference yesterday, Quayle said he joined the Guard, not to try to avoid combat, but because it gave him the freedom to go to law school.
"The implication is somehow that Dan Quayle, by voluntarily signing up for the Indiana National Guard, was not patriotic, and I resent that," Quayle said. "At that time, in my career, I was wanting to go to law school as soon as possible. And the National Guard offered me an opportunity to serve my country" and go to law school.
Quayle did not mention that he had already been called for his pre-induction physical when he joined the Guard. And his father said yesterday that his son at first could not get in to Indiana University Law School because he did not meet the academic requirements.
"They wouldn't take him. I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of," James Quayle said.
Quayle later entered the school as a part-time night student in the fall of 1970. James Quayle said he did not intervene on his son's behalf. "Somehow he got in," James Quayle said. "He talked his way in."
However, Quayle's father, publisher of the Huntington Herald-Press and son-in-law of the late Eugene C. Pulliam, owner of the Indianapolis News and six other newspapers in Indiana and Arizona, acknowledged that he used his influence to help his son land a job in the Indiana Attorney General's office after he completed six months of National Guard training. Quayle said he contacted M. Stanton Evans, the columnist and former editor of the Indianapolis News, who set up an interview with the office of Theodore L. Sendack, then the attorney general.
James Quayle, who said he was a member of the John Birch Society in the early 1960s, said he is not ashamed that his son was in the National Guard. "At least he was in uniform. I saw him in uniform . . . . I don't consider him a draft dodger or deserter."
National Guard officials said yesterday that they were still reviewing Quayle's military records and could not release them at this time. The records presumably would show when Quayle actually applied for admission to the Guard and whether it was after he had been called for his physical.
However, Moorhead, who had access to some of the records, said yesterday that there was about a "30-day period" to process Guard applications at the time. If that were the case, Quayle could have applied to the Guard after the April 9 physical and still have gained admission before his college deferment ran out on May 25.
The question of timing is potentially important because, according to some critics, it raises the question of whether Quayle, who was a vocal supporter of the Vietnam war during his college years, only joined the Guard to avoid fighting in the war. Bill Roller, a former classmate of Quayle's at DePauw who waited tables with him at a sorority house, remembers several discussions with Quayle in which he expressed his support for the war.
"I remember asking him, if you're so much in support of the war, why don't you go over there and fight it," Roller said. "I never got an answer."
When he entered the Guard, Quayle joined the headquarters detachment, which served as the support staff for the adjutant general and, at the time, was located just a few blocks from the offices of the Indianapolis Star and News, the newspapers owned by Pulliam.
Quayle was later transferred to the 120th Public Information Detachment, a unit of 10 to 12 members whose principal job was putting out a quarterly magazine containing "puffy little features" about the Guard, according to James Newland, an Indianapolis Star reporter who served in the unit then.
While in the unit, Quayle continued to express his hawkish, pro-Vietnam war views, recalled Sam Graves, the commander of the unit. "I remember a number of us sitting around and one of us, probably me, saying, 'I'd rather be red than dead,'" Graves said. "And Dan got very intense and he said, 'Not me.'"
Staff writer Paul Farhi contributed to this report.