Jewish World Review August 10, 2004 / 25 Menachem-Av, 5764
Silencing the swifties is an act of Dem desperation but being done for good reason
In his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for vice president, Sen.
John Edwards said of John Kerry, "if you have any question of what he is
made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him then."
The Democratic National Committee is trying hard to keep you from spending a
minute with most of the sailors who served with Kerry during his abbreviated
tour in Vietnam, because they have unflattering things to say. The DNC is
threatening to sue television stations which run a commercial produced by
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Of the 23 officers who served with Kerry, only one supports him for
president. Two others are dead, and four want nothing to do with politics.
The remaining 16 have declared him "Unfit for Command," the title of the
book written by former Lt. John O'Neill, who took over Kerry's swift boat,
PCF-94, when Kerry left Vietnam. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
The Swifties charge Kerry didn't deserve two of the three purple hearts he
was awarded, or either of his medals for valor, the silver star and the
According to Kerry, his first taste of combat came on his first mission, on
the night of Dec. 2, 1968. He was with two sailors in a Boston whaler on a
night patrol. They saw sampans, presumably crewed by Viet Cong, unloading
on a peninsula. They opened fire, and the Vietnamese ran for cover. In the
"engagement," Kerry suffered a scratch on his arm from a piece of metal.
Kerry's account to his biographer, Douglas Brinkley, gives the impression
that he was in command of the whaler. This was not so. Lt. William
Schachte, later an admiral, was the officer in charge. Shachte said the
Vietnamese never fired on the boat, and the sailor who was with Schachte and
Kerry said he couldn't remember any return fire.
Shachte said Kerry's scratch was self-inflicted. He had fired an M-79
grenade launcher too close to the shore. It struck a rock, and a fragment of
metal ricocheted and struck Kerry Louis Letson, the doctor who treated
Kerry (he put a band aid on the cut) said the metal fragment looked like a
piece from an M-79 grenade.
When the next day Kerry went to his commander, Lt. Commander Grant Hibbard,
and asked Hibbard to put him in for the purple heart, Hibbard threw him out
of his office.
Kerry's second purple heart is uncontested. He received his third purple
heart, and his bronze star, for an action on March 13, 1969. Kerry alleges
he was wounded in the right buttock by the explosion of an underwater mine
under an accompanying swift boat. Tom Rassman, an Army Special Forces
officer, was knocked off Kerry's boat by the mine explosion. Kerry was
awarded the bronze star for coming back "under heavy fire" to fish Rassman
out of the water.
But sailors on the other swift boats say there was no enemy fire. "The
force of the explosion disabled PCF-3, and threw several sailors, dazed,
into the water. All boats, except one, closed to rescue the sailors and
defend the disabled boat. That boat Kerry's boat fled the scene...
After it was apparent there was no hostile fire, Kerry finally returned,
picking up Rassman who was only a few yards away from Chenowith's boat which
was also going to pick Rassman up."
Kerry's wound, moreover, had occurred not during the mine explosion, but
earlier, when he tossed a concussion grenade into a pile of rice, according
to Larry Thurlow, an officer who was with Kerry at the time.
Kerry's account of the action in which he received his silver star is at
variance with the accounts of others who were there. Capt. George Elliott,
who wrote up Kerry for the medal (based on Kerry's account of the incident)
said that if he knew then what he knows now, he never would have done so.
Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe wrote a story saying Elliott had
recanted this accusation, but Elliott said Kranish badly misquoted him. He
sticks by what he said in the ad.
Kranish's twisting of Elliott's words is a harbinger of things to come from
a Kerry friendly media. This story will get much less attention than it
deserves, because the Swifties have assembled too strong a case to be
refuted. It can only ignored, or misrepresented.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
administration. Comment by clicking here.
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