The story that president Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam depends on ... president Bush and one of his friends. Here's the relevant part of a 2000 piece that deals with the issue:
"'Had my unit been called up, I'd have gone ... to Vietnam,' Bush said. 'I was prepared to go.' But there was no chance Bush's unit would be ordered overseas. Bush says that toward the end of his training in 1970, he tried to volunteer for overseas duty, asking a commander to put his name on the list for a 'Palace Alert' program, which dispatched qualified F-102 pilots in the Guard to the Europe and the Far East, occasionally to Vietnam, on three- to six-month assignments.
He was turned down on the spot. 'I did [ask] ‚Äì and I was told, 'You're not going,'' Bush said.
Only pilots with extensive flying time ‚Äì at the outset, 1,000 hours were required ‚Äì were sent overseas under the voluntary program. The Air Force, moreover, was retiring the aging F-102s and had ordered all overseas F-102 units closed down as of June 30, 1970."
There's no paper record. But Fred wasn't hallucinating. He'd just absorbed what the president had said and repeated it, with a benign spin. That's a pretty good description of his book, actually.