Jewish World Review August 10, 2004 / 25 Menachem-Av, 5764

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

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 bronze star.

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.

Donate to JWR

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.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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.

Jack Kelly Archives

© 2004, Jack Kelly