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Time.com: Kerry In Combat: Setting The Record Straight


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Kerry In Combat: Setting The Record Straight


Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004

John Kerry offers his service in Vietnam as proof that he can keep America safe. But in two TV ads and a best-selling book, an anti-Kerry group has accused the Senator of dishonesty and cowardice during the war. Kerry hit back last week, accusing Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) of doing the President's dirty work. The Bush campaign denies a connection. SBVT's biggest donor is Houston developer Bob Perry, who has given more than $4 million to Republicans, including Bush, and is a close friend of Bush adviser Karl Rove's. Of SBVT's 254 members, only one served on a boat Kerry commanded; Kerry's 10 other crewmates back him. Some group members say their real beef with Kerry is his antiwar activism, during which he testified to the Senate that "war crimes" by U.S. soldiers were common. He now says some of his remarks were excessive. Here's a look at the group's allegations.

THE CHARGE Kerry lied to get the first of three Purple Hearts. SBVT alleges that the wound was a minor, self-inflicted scratch. Kerry says on Dec. 2, 1968, he and his two crewmates that night fired on men on a riverbank. It's unclear if someone fired back, but shrapnel hit Kerry's arm. Louis Letson, a medical officer at the time, says that he treated Kerry's wound and that it was too small to justify a medal. William Schacte Jr. says he was on the boat that night and there was no enemy fire; he says Kerry was injured by a grenade Kerry himself launched.

THE EVIDENCE Kerry's medical record was signed not by Letson but by corpsman J.C. Carreon. Letson claims Carreon routinely signed forms for him. Letson told the Los Angeles Times he heard the wound was self-inflicted thirdhand — from his subordinates, who heard it from Kerry's two crewmates. They deny saying that and insist Schacte wasn't on the boat that night. The military grants a Purple Heart for any wound requiring medical attention that was inflicted during action against the enemy.

THE CHARGE Kerry lied to win his Silver Star. SBVT charges that Kerry exaggerated his role in a battle on Feb. 28, 1969. In charge of a three-boat patrol that was ambushed, Kerry ordered the boats to beach in front of their attackers and engage them head on. Kerry's boat was providing cover when a rocket hit it. Kerry jumped ashore to chase a Viet Cong with a rocket launcher and killed him. SBVT says Kerry simply shot a wounded teenager in the back. Former Lieut. Commander George Elliott, Kerry's direct superior, said in a recent affidavit that he wouldn't have awarded Kerry a Silver Star if he had known the details.

THE EVIDENCE Kerry's crewmates say the boat was in clear danger. Besides, Kerry won the medal for leadership during the whole battle, and Elliott describes the entire episode in the citation he wrote. Elliott later told the Boston Globe he had made a terrible mistake in signing the affidavit. Then he signed a new affidavit standing behind the first. When newspapers questioned Kerry's account in 1996, Elliott went to Boston to uphold it. The commander of one of the other two boats, Chicago Tribune editor William Rood, corroborated Kerry's story last week.

THE CHARGE Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star. On March 13, 1969, five swift boats were patrolling the Bay Hap River when a mine detonated under one of them. Kerry and Green Beret Jim Rassmann, aboard other boats, claim gunfire started coming from the riverbank. After another blast knocked Rassmann overboard, Kerry pulled him onto his boat. Three members of SBVT, including Larry Thurlow, insist that there was no gunfire and that Kerry initially fled the scene, returning to help Rassmann only when it was clear there was no danger.

THE EVIDENCE The Navy also awarded Thurlow a Bronze Star that day, and his citation, signed by Elliott and uncovered by the Washington Post, reads, "All the boats came under small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks." A separate damage report mentions three bullet holes in Thurlow's boat.

THE CHARGE Kerry lied about spending Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia. In 1979 and 1986, Kerry recounted a mission in which he and his crew boated into neutral Cambodia. The Pentagon said at the time that Vietnam's neighbor was off limits, and Kerry said his mission was proof of Richard Nixon's dishonesty. Steven Gardner, the sole member of Kerry's crew to join the SBVT, says their boat was 50 miles from the Cambodian border that day.

THE EVIDENCE Kerry has no proof he entered Cambodia, though other U.S. forces certainly did. Two crew members have said the boat was near the border. Records show that the boat was about 50 miles south of Cambodia that morning. Kerry and his crew headed upriver and could have been at the border in two hours. On Christmas Eve, Nixon was President-elect; he would not be in the White House for a month. A Kerry campaign spokesman now says that Kerry might not have been in Cambodia that night but that he definitely went there on a mission.

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I dont think there are many people excercised about Kerry's silver star.

His Bronze star seems to be an issue.

His first and third purple hearts also seem to be at issue.

Regarding why would he go to vietnam then come back and throw someone elses medals away?

My personal opinion is he was flip flopping.... thought going to vietnam would help him, then thought being against vietnam would help him.

Couldnt bring himself to throw his own medals away so he threw someone elses... that would be ok...except he claimed they were his....

I dont really care whether he earned his medals or not... However; I do care if he manipulated the system to get them (and i think he did)

While I was in the military I met people that were just there punching a ticket (they were generally annoying), Kerry seems to have been one of them.

I would still like to see Kerrys FitReps but he will only release selected fitreps

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3 purple hearts and he isnt a disabled vet?

How many days was he hospitalized?

My respect level for certain Navy jr officers have never been that high when it came to them receiving gedunk medals and then the coveted ones while the enlisted are supposed bite their tongues when they know the truth.

Heck guess I'll paste that pic of him as an anti vietnam protester thats in the ho chi min museum hall of fame along with that book cover of him with the upside down flag and abunch of hippies replicating the marines famous pose.

My question is what does any of this have to do with him being able to handle the current war on terror?

What he was like forrest gump and got shot only in the buttocks?

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Originally posted by NavyDave

Heck guess I'll paste that pic of him as an anti vietnam protester thats in the ho chi min museum hall of fame along with that book cover of him with the upside down flag and abunch of hippies replicating the marines famous pose.

Actually Neal Boortz (who's about the only political commentator I still respect: He's a real flaming conservative on some issues, but not on all of them, and he actually tries to use facts sometimes.) was commenting about the Kerry picture in the museum.

At least according to Boortz, it's not a picture of "John Kerry, war criminal", or "John Kerry, anti-war protestor", it's a picture of Senator Kerry, as part of an american delegation to Viet Nam, and it's part of an exhibit about the normalization of relations.

But, it couldn't possibly be a smear comment where somebody took a fact, and then tried to use a distorted version of that fact to try to "prove" a completely bogus claim.

And I'm certain that, now that the real fact is out, that we won't see a parade of Republican mouthpieces (including, for example, several people 'round here) continue to quote the (false) "fact" to support their position.

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