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Encyclopedia > John Kerry military service controversy

The John Kerry military service controversy describes a political issue that gained widespread public attention during John Kerry's candidacy in the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign. Politics is the process and method of decision-making for groups of human beings. ... John Forbes Kerry (born December 11, 1943) is the junior United States Senator from Massachusetts. ... -1...

Contents


Issues in the controversy

The central issues of the controversy includes Kerry's post-Vietnam anti-war activities as a national director of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and his Vietnam war record. In television advertisements and a book called Unfit for Command, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) questioned Kerry's fitness for office, the veracity of Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, details of his military service record and circumstances relating to the award of his combat medals.-1... Three articles cover aspects of John Kerrys military service and related controversies. ... Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, formerly known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), is an organization of American Swift boat veterans and former prisoners of war of the Vietnam War, formed during the 2004 presidential election campaign. ...


Background

In a best selling book, released in August 2004, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, SBVT authors criticize Kerry's war record.
In a best selling book, released in August 2004, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, SBVT authors criticize Kerry's war record.

Several members of SBVT served in the same unit as Kerry, but only one, Stephen Gardner, served on the same boat. However, a number of Kerry's SBVT critics were present on accompanying Swift Boats, at some of the salient events of Kerry's enemy engagements in Vietnam. Book cover of Unfit for Command File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Book cover of Unfit for Command File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Swift Boat PCF71 in Vietnam, showing forward twin . ...


Other SBVT members included two of Kerry's former commanding officers, Grant Hibbard and George Elliott. Hibbard and Elliott have alleged, respectively, that Kerry's first Purple Heart and Silver Star were undeserved. In addition, members of SBVT have questioned the merit of Kerry's other medals and his truthfulness in testimony about the war.


Defenders of John Kerry's service record, including virtually all of his former crewmates, have stated that SBVT's accusations are false, and furthermore, contend the allegations are refuted by official records and statements of eyewitnesses.


A number of Kerry's former crewmates who disagreed with SBVT campaigned with Kerry in 2004. Similarly, various organizers of the SBVT have been alleged or shown to have had close ties to the 2004 George W. Bush presidential campaign and/or were supporting Bush. George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States and a former governor of Texas. ...


Allegations and evidence

First Purple Heart

Some SBVT members have questioned Kerry's first Purple Heart, received for a wound sustained on December 2, 1968. Kerry remained on duty after being wounded, and sought treatment at the following day's sick call. They assert that the injury was too minor to merit a citation because the only treatment Kerry received, after the removal of a piece of shrapnel from his arm, was bacitracin (an antibiotic) and a bandage, and he returned to service immediately; however, other division members, including at least one SBVT member, received Purple Hearts under similar circumstances (ReportsAwards). SBVT also claims that the wound was not from enemy fire but was from shrapnel of a grenade he fired himself [1], a claim they believe is supported by the fact that no combat casualty report for the incident has been discovered. The Purple Heart is a U.S. military decoration awarded in the name of the President of the United States to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in, or with, the U.S. military after April 5, 1917. ... December 2 is the 336th day (337th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ...


The criteria for the Purple Heart call for its award for any injury received during combat requiring treatment by a medical officer; the military makes no distinction regarding the severity of the injury. Under military regulations, the Purple Heart is awarded for "friendly fire" wounds in the "heat of battle", so long as the fire is targeted "under full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment." The Purple Heart is a U.S. military decoration awarded in the name of the President of the United States to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in, or with, the U.S. military after April 5, 1917. ...


An article in the Boston Globe described the circumstances in which Purple Hearts were given to wounded soldiers in Vietnam: The Boston Globe is the most widely-circulated daily newspaper in Boston, Massachusetts and in the greater New England region. ...

'There were an awful lot of Purple Hearts — from shrapnel; some of those might have been M-40 grenades,' said George Elliott, Kerry's commanding officer. 'The Purple Hearts were coming down in boxes. Kerry, he had three Purple Hearts. None of them took him off duty. Not to belittle it, that was more the rule than the exception.' [2]

In Douglas Brinkley's book Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, Brinkley notes that Purple Hearts were given out frequently:

As generally understood, the Purple Heart is given to any U.S. citizen wounded in wartime service to the nation. Giving out Purple Hearts increased as the United States started sending Swifts up rivers. Sailors — no longer safe on aircraft carriers or battleships in the Gulf of Tonkin — were starting to bleed, a lot.

And according to the LA Times: HMS Victory in 1884 Battleship was the name given to the most powerfully gun-armed and most heavily armored classes of warships built between the 15th and 20th centuries. ...

"Navy rules during the Vietnam War governing Purple Hearts did not take into account a wound's severity — and specified only that injuries had to be suffered 'in action against an enemy.'
Self-inflicted wounds were awarded if incurred 'in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.' Kerry's critics insist his wound would not have qualified, but former Navy officials who worked in the service's awards branch at the time said such awards were routine.
A Times review of Navy injury reports and awards from that period in Kerry's Swift boat unit shows that many other Swift boat personnel won Purple Hearts for slight wounds of uncertain origin." [La Granga and Braun, Los Angeles Times, Aug. 17, 2004]

In an SBVT television ad, Dr. Lewis Letson asserted "I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury," but did not specify what the alleged lie was. Kerry's medical records list a medic, J. C. Carreon, as the "person administering treatment" for this wound. Dr. Letson's name does not appear on the record, but he claims that it was common for medics to sign the paperwork even though Letson would treat the patient. However, the claim cannot be verified as Carreon died in 1992. 1992 (MCMXCII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday. ...


On the night in question, Kerry was not on a Swift boat, but on a 15-foot skimmer. Kerry opened fire on suspected guerrillas on the shore. During this encounter, Kerry suffered a shrapnel wound in the left arm above the elbow. Accounts differ over the crew aboard the skimmer, the source of Kerry's injury - Kerry has stated that he does not know where the shrapnel came from[3] - and several other major details. No after-action report for this incident has been discovered.


SBVT's claims about the incident are primarily based on an account by retired Rear Admiral William Schachte, then a Lieutenant. Schachte regularly led training missions for recently arrived officers such as Kerry. One tactic described by Schachte was for a Swift boat to tow the skimmer to the target area. The skimmer, manned by three people, "would go in, draw fire and get out immediately." The waiting Swift boats or air support would attack the enemies thus detected. Schachte stated that he had participated in all previous skimmer missions up to and including the night Kerry was injured, although the latter claim could not be substantiated. [4][5] William L. Bill Schachte is a retired rear admiral of the United States Navy. ...


In an interview in 2003, Schachte made no mention of being on the skimmer with Kerry that night; in addition, he described the action as a "firefight" and said of Kerry, "He got hit." [6] In August 2004, however, Schachte stated that he was the senior officer on Kerry's skimmer that night, with one enlisted man also on board, that he popped a flare after detecting movement, and opened fire. He stated that there was no return fire, and that Kerry was "nicked" by a fragment from an M-79 grenade launcher he fired himself. [7] Moreover, while Schacte has described Kerry as, at the time, a "rookie [who] would never be put in command" of a skimmer mission [8], Kerry was actually given command of a Swift boat and crew just three days after the skimmer mission and sent into a combat area[9]. 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Kerry crewmates Bill Zaladonis and Patrick Runyon dispute Schachte's 2004 account. Zaladonis stated that "Myself, Pat Runyon, and John Kerry, we were the only ones in the skimmer." [10] Runyon added, "Me and Bill aren't the smartest, but we can count to three." They recounted that the skimmer opened fire on suspected guerrillas attempting to evade the patrol, as they ran from sampan boats onto the shore. Both Runyon and Zaladonis believe, but are not completely certain, that the skimmer received return hostile fire; Runyon commented, "It was the scariest night of my life." Runyon also stated that he is "100 percent certain" that no one on the boat fired a grenade launcher. [11] [12] Zaladonis has noted that Schachte went on "a bunch of" other skimmer missions and speculated that Schachte might have inadvertently mixed up his dates. [13]


SBVT member Grant Hibbard, who was Kerry’s commander at the time, has claimed that Kerry came to him the morning after the incident, after he had been to sick bay, stating that he was eligible for a Purple Heart [14] . No one has claimed to have witnessed this conversation. Hibbard has also claimed that he denied Kerry’s request and does not know how the award eventually came to be granted, although he had initially stated that he acquiesced on the matter of the award [15]. The presentation letter for the award was dated February 28, 1969 [16].


SBVT also points to the narration of a subsequent event in Tour of Duty (pp. 188-189). Brinkley opens the account of a four-day cruise by telling us how "Kerry —who had just turned 25 on December 11, 1968— was a fine leader of his men". He goes on to quote Kerry's reflections in his notebook: "A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky." SBVT argues that this journal entry shows that the incident could not have involved enemy fire. [17] Others argue that Kerry was referring to ambushes, a common misfortune for Swift boats which Kerry had not yet suffered, or to the crew collectively, as he used the term "we" instead of "I," and most of his crewmembers clearly had been "shot at" before.


Bronze Star

Kerry's Bronze Star has been criticized by former Swift boat commander Larry Thurlow. During the incident leading to the medal, Thurlow was in overall tactical command of five boats, including Kerry's. The incident began when one of the boats struck a mine. In 2004 Thurlow, along with two other SBVT members, alleged that Kerry's citation for bravery under fire is false because neither Kerry's boat nor any of the others was under hostile fire. In a sworn affidavit about the incident, Thurlow testified, "I never heard a shot." [18] Of the three boat commanders present besides Kerry and Thurlow, two are SBVT members who now claim that there was no hostile fire during the incident. But one of them was seriously wounded with a concussion and the other left the scene early on to accompany the wounded to safety. Only Kerry and Thurlow remained behind to work on damage control. [19] The other boat commander present, Don Droz, was later killed in action; however, his widow recalls Droz's account as being consistent with Kerry's. [20] The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration and is the fourth highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service. ...


Several other witnesses insist that there was hostile fire during the incident. Jim Rassmann, the Special Forces captain Kerry rescued, wrote, "Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river...When I surfaced, all the Swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks. To avoid the incoming fire, I repeatedly swam under water." Del Sandusky, the driver on Kerry's boat, PCF-94, stated, "I saw the gun flashes in the jungle, and I saw the bullets skipping across the water." Wayne Langhofer, who manned the machine gun on Don Droz's PCF-43, stated, "There was a lot of firing going on, and it came from both sides of the river." [21] Michael Medeiros, aboard PCF-94, recalled "a massive ambush. There were rockets and light machine gun fire plus small arms." Jim Russell, the Psychological Operations Officer of the unit, who was on PCF-43, wrote "All the time we were taking small arms fire from the beach... Anyone who doesn't think that we were being fired upon must have been on a different river." [22]


Although it is not mentioned in Unfit for Command, Thurlow himself was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions during the same incident. Thurlow's citation includes several phrases indicating hostile fire such as "despite enemy bullets flying about him" and "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire", and speaks of fire directed at "all units" of the five-boat fleet. [23] Thurlow's medal recommendation, signed by Elliott, used the phrasing "under constant enemy small arms fire." Also unmentioned in "Unfit for Command" was the name Robert Lambert, Thurlow's chief petty officer who was the official eyewitness cited for Thurlow's Bronze Star recommendation, and who won his own Bronze Star for "courage under fire" for pulling Thurlow out of the water. Lambert still insists that the boats were receiving fire from the enemy. [24]


Thurlow claims that his Bronze Star citation (given to him after he had left the military) is in error. He now states that he noticed some errors when he received the citation in 1969 but saw no reason to try to correct the record. He and others in SBVT claim that, although it normally would have been Thurlow's responsibility, Kerry wrote the after-action report upon which all the citations were based. However, Thurlow and Lambert's medal citations and the after action report contain considerable detail about the incident which would not have been visible to Kerry given his position across the river at the time, or that took place after Kerry had left the scene. [25] The after-action report is initialed "KJW", who SBVT claims is Kerry. However, Kerry's initials are "JFK", and SBVT cites no reason why Kerry would have included a "W". These same initials "KJW" appear on other reports about events in which Kerry did not participate. [26] A Navy official stated to the New York Times that the initials referred, not to the author of the report, but to the headquarters staffer who received it. [27] Furthermore, using a recent statement by Kerry's base commander, Adrian Lonsdale, and the applicable operations order authored by him, it can be shown that if these orders were followed Don Droz was responsible for the report on March 13 (if Thurlow didn't write it), as well as the report on February 28. [28]


Beyond the medal citations, all U.S. Navy documents indicate hostile fire during the action. Kerry's boat (PCF-94) even received special recognition from Captain Roy Hoffmann on March 14 in his weekly report to his men; the report's description of hostile fire was not disputed at the time. [29] PCF-94 had major damage that had to be repaired before it could resume patrols. [30] Also, later intelligence reports confirm the presence of hostile forces, with six Viet Cong casualties from the incident. [31] A Viet Cong soldier, heavily guarded, awaits interrogation following capture in the attacks on Saigon during the festive Tet holiday period of 1968. ...


Silver Star

Kerry's Silver Star medal has been called into question by George Elliott, Kerry's former commanding officer and a member of SBVT. Elliott's stated position on the award changed during the course of the 2004 Presidential campaign. The Silver Star is also a passenger rail line run by Amtrak as part of their Silver Service and Palmetto service. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Kerry's medal citation indicates that he charged into an ambush, killing an enemy preparing to launch a rocket. In his 1969 performance evaluation, Elliot wrote "In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action, LTJG [Lieutenant Junior Grade] Kerry was unsurpassed. He constantly reviewed tactics and lessons learned in river operations and applied his experience at every opportunity. On one occasion, while in tactical command of a three boat operation his units were taken under fire from ambush. LTJG Kerry rapidly assessed the situation and ordered his units to turn directly into the ambush. This decision resulted in routing the attackers with several KIA [Killed in Action]. LTJG Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group. His bearing and appearance are above reproach." [32]


During Kerry's 1996 re-election campaign, when there was criticism of his Silver Star, Elliott responded: "The fact that he chased armed enemies down is not something to be looked down on." [33] In June 2003, Elliott was quoted as saying the award was "well deserved" and that he had "no regrets or second thoughts at all about that." [34] 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ...


More recently, however, Elliott has signed two affidavits that criticize the award. The first, in July 2004, stated in part, "When Kerry came back to the United States, he lied about what occurred in Vietnam..." After the release of this first affidavit, Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe quoted Elliott saying, "It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here...I knew it was wrong...In a hurry I signed it and faxed it back. That was a mistake." [35] Elliott contended that Kranish had substantially misquoted him, but the Globe stood by its account, calling the disputed quotes "absolutely accurate". [36] 2004 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December See also: July 2004 in sports Deaths in July • 31 David B. Haight • 29 Francis Crick • 29 Nafisa Joseph • 23 Joe Cahill • 23 Mehmood • 23 Illinois Jacquet • 23 Carlos Paredes • 22 Sacha Distel • 21 Jerry Goldsmith • 21...


The story prompted Elliott to release a second affidavit, in August 2004, in which he stated, "Had I known the facts, I would not have recommended Kerry for the Silver Star for simply pursuing and dispatching a single wounded, fleeing Viet Cong." [37]. The second affidavit made what Elliott called an "immaterial clarification", in that he admitted that he had no personal knowledge of the circumstances of the shooting. Rather, his initial statement that Kerry had been dishonest was based on unspecified sources and a passage contributed by Kranish to a biography of Kerry. 2004 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December See also: August 2004 in sports Deaths in August 2004 • 30 Fred Whipple • 26 Laura Branigan • 24 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross • 18 Elmer Bernstein • 15 Amarsinh Chaudhary • 14 CzesÅ‚aw MiÅ‚osz • 13 Julia Child • 8 Robert...


Kerry’s crew members who were there that day do not agree with Elliott’s characterization of the event. They contend that the enemy soldier, although wounded, was still a threat. For example, one of them, Fred Short said, "The guy was getting ready to stand up with a rocket on his shoulder, coming up. And Mr. Kerry took him out ... he would have been about a 30-yard shot. ... [T]here's no way he could miss us." Del Sandusky, Kerry’s second in command, described the consequences to the lightly armored Swift boat: "Charlie would have lit us up like a Roman candle because we're full of fuel, we're full of ammunition." [38] Another witness stated that the VC "had an entry wound at the side of his chest and exit wound at the opposite side of the chest cavity, a wound that was consistent with reports of the man turning to fire a second B-40 rocket."[Gibson interview, Springfield Republican, September 5, 2004]


Although Elliot claims that he was not in possession of certain facts, the original citation that Elliot wrote (which is not the citation that appears in "Unfit for Command") incorporates most of the details in the after action report. The report states that Kerry chased and shot a single wounded, fleeing Viet Cong. In addition, it states that the PCFs were filled with troops, that all three boats turned into the first ambush and beached, that the troops conducted the first sweep, and that while Kerry led the first landing party during the second sweep, the other landing parties and troops followed and took out the VC.


The only member of SBVT who was present that day, Larry Clayton Lee, has stated he believes Kerry earned the Silver Star. [39].


Another eyewitness, William Rood, now a Chicago Tribune editor, recently gave an account that supports Kerry's version of the events of that day. Rood was commander of PCF-23, which was one of the two Swift boats that accompanied Kerry's PCF-94. The Chicago Tribune, formerly self-styled as the Worlds Greatest Newspaper, remains one of the principal daily newspapers of the midwestern United States. ...


Rood discounted several specific charges made by SBVT about the incident. In his (second-hand) book account, O'Neill implied that Kerry chased down a lone "teenager in a loincloth clutching a grenade launcher which may or may not have been loaded," without coming under enemy fire himself. In contrast, Rood stated that there were multiple attackers, there was heavy hostile fire, and the guerrilla Kerry shot was "a grown man, dressed in the kind of garb the Viet Cong usually wore" armed with a "loaded B-40 rocket launcher". Also, O'Neill called Kerry's tactic of charging the beach "stupidity, not courage." Similarly, Hoffman characterized Kerry's actions as reckless and impulsive. However, Rood stated that Kerry's tactic of charging the beach was discussed and mutually agreed with the other Swift boat commanders beforehand. He also notes that, at the time, Hoffman praised all three Swift boat commanders and called the tactics developed "a shining example of completely overwhelming the enemy" and that they "may be the most efficacious method of dealing with small numbers of ambushers." [40] [41] O'Neill responded that Rood's criticism was "extremely unfair" and stated that Rood's account of events is not substantially different from what appeared in his book Unfit for Command, for which Rood had declined an interview. [42] However, despite this protestation, O'Neill's account in the book is in fact substantially different from Rood's and all of the U.S. Navy documentation for the mission and the medals produced in Vietnam at the time. [43] [44] Moreover, contrary to O'Neill's claim, the American eyewitnesses to the second sweep, including SBVT member Larry Clayton Lee, have stated that there were multiple VC at the scene of the second sweep ("Tour of Duty," p.292); ("John F. Kerry, the Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best," p.102);[45];


The accounts of Vietnamese witnesses are consistent on several points with Rood's. Ba Thanh, the guerrilla killed while carrying the B-40 rocket launcher, was "big and strong" and in his late 20's. Return fire was also intense, according to Vo Van Tam, who was then a local Viet Cong commander: "I led Ba Thanh's comrades, the whole unit, to fight back. And we ran around the back and fought the Americans from behind. We worked with the city soldiers to fire on the American boats." No Vietnamese witnesses saw how Thanh died or saw him being chased by an American. [46]


O'Neill states that the Silver Star was awarded after only two days, "with no review" ("Unfit For Command," p. 81). However, the medal was awarded on March 6, six days after the action, and Hoffmann and Lonsdale stated in 1996 that all proper review procedures were followed.


Commenting on the Silver Star issue, Republican Sen. John Warner, who was Under Secretary of the Navy at the time, stated "We did extraordinary, careful checking on that type of medal, a very high one, when it goes through the secretary...I'd stand by the process that awarded that medal, and I think we best acknowledge that his heroism did gain that recognition." [47] Elmo Zumwalt, Commander of the United States Naval Forces in Vietnam at that time, signed Kerry's original Silver Star citation and defended the award in 1996, saying "It is a disgrace to the United States Navy that there's any inference that the [medal] process was anything other than totally honest." Boston Herald, October 28, 1996. John William Warner (born February 18, 1927) is an American statesman and politician, who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972-1974 and has served as a Republican senator from Virginia since 1979. ... Elmo R. Zumwalt Elmo Russell Zumwalt, Jr. ... The Boston Herald is a tabloid newspaper (not to be confused with tabloid press periodicals), the smaller of the two big dailies in Boston, Massachusetts, with a daily circulation of 230,543 in September 2005. ...


Cambodia mission

One chapter of SBVT's Unfit for Command questions Kerry's repeated statement that he was in Cambodia during Christmas, 1968. [48] Christmas (literally, the Mass of Christ) is a traditional Christian holiday meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus with both religious and secular aspects, commonly observed on 25 December. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ...


For example, on March 27, 1986, in arguing against United States aid to the Nicaraguan Contras, Kerry made a speech to the Senate that, among other things, touched on the Vietnam war: March 27 is the 86th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (87th in Leap years). ... 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Mr. President, how quickly do we forget? How quickly do we forget? No one wanted to widen the war in Vietnam, We heard that, Let me remind you of what we said during that period of time.

[Kerry then set forth more than a dozen statements of American leaders with respect to the Vietnam war. He concluded the summary with the following:]

Finally, President Nixon, 1970. "In cooperation with the armed forces of South Vietnam, attacks are being launched this week to clear out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border."

Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the President of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia.

I have that memory which is seared-seared-in me, that says to me, before we send another generation into harm's way we have a responsibility in the U.S. Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible in order to avoid that kind of conflict. Mr. President, good intentions are not enough to keep us out of harm's way.

According to the Boston Globe biography of Kerry, he later recalled that after this incident, he "began to develop a deep mistrust of U.S. government pronouncements... ." [John F. Kerry, the Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, p. 84]


In a 1979 article in the Boston Herald, Kerry wrote of being shot at five miles over the Cambodian border on Christmas Eve 1968, stating, The Boston Herald is a tabloid newspaper (not to be confused with tabloid press periodicals), the smaller of the two big dailies in Boston, Massachusetts, with a daily circulation of 230,543 in September 2005. ...

The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.

At the time, President Lyndon Johnson had falsely denied military incursions across the Cambodian border. Richard Nixon was actually president-elect in December 1968, and he had not yet issued his own false denial. Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908–January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician. ... Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ...


No official documentation of any accidental or other incursion by either of Kerry's boats has been discovered. In addition, none of Kerry's crewmates have confirmed ever being sent to Cambodia. One of Kerry's crewmen, Steven Gardner, asserted that it was physically impossible to cross the Cambodian border, as it was blocked and patrolled by PBRs (a type of patrol boat) [49]; however, Kerry's boat was evidently patrolling with PBRs as part of the mission in question [50]. Some crewmembers have, moreover, stated that they may at some point have entered Cambodia without knowing it. James Wasser, who was on PCF-44 on that December mission, while saying that he believed they were "very, very close" to Cambodia, did not recall actually crossing over; he also stated that it was very hard to tell their exact position in the border area. Kerry's own journal entry on this, written the night of the mission, does not specifically say they entered Cambodia. However, it does state that PCF-44 was somewhere "toward Cambodia" to provide cover for two smaller patrol boats, and in sarcasm, that he considered messaging Christmas greetings to his commanders "from the most inland Market Time unit" and that a court martial for the incident "would make sense" [51]. In addition, George Elliott noted in Kerry's fitness report that he had been in an ambush during the Christmas truce that year [52].


Michael Meehan, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, responded to SBVT's charges with a statement that Kerry was referring to a period when Nixon had been president-elect and before he was inaugurated. Meehan went on to state that Kerry had been "deep in enemy waters" between Vietnam and Cambodia and that his boat came under fire at the Cambodian border. Meehan also said that Kerry did covertly cross over into Cambodia to drop off special operations forces on a later occasion, but that there was no paperwork for such missions and he could not supply dates. [53]


Based on examination of Kerry's journals and logbook, historian Douglas Brinkley placed the covert missions soon after Christmas. In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, Brinkley stated that Kerry had gone into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions, dropping off U.S. Seals, Green Berets, and CIA operatives. Brinkley added: This article deals with The Daily Telegraph in Britain, see The Daily Telegraph (Australia) for the Australian publication The Daily Telegraph is a British broadsheet newspaper founded in 1855. ...

He was a ferry master, a drop-off guy, but it was dangerous as hell. Kerry carries a hat he was given by one CIA operative. In a part of his journals which I didn't use he writes about discussions with CIA guys he was dropping off. [54] [55]

In the book, O'Neill argued that a Swift boat commander would have been "seriously disciplined or court-martialed" for crossing the Cambodian border. The book also asserts that border was impassable — posted with a large warning sign and patrolled by several PBR's precisely to prevent such crossings. [56] Critics point out the inconsistency between this description and O'Neill's own claims documented in a conversation with President Nixon in 1971: Patrol Boat Patrol Boat, Rigid (sometimes River or Riverine), or PBR, is the US Navy designation for a type of rigid-hulled patrol boat used in the Vietnam War from March 1966 until the end of 1970. ...

O'Neill: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.
Nixon : In a Swift boat?
O'Neill: Yes, sir. [57]

Document release

During the 2004 campaign, Kerry released hundreds of documents from his personal Naval records. However, he was criticized by SBVTand other media entities for not authorizing independent public access to those records. After the election, on May 20, 2005, he did sign a Standard Form 180, allowing full release of all records to the Associated Press and two major newspapers. They reported that the material largely duplicated what Kerry had released during the campaign, and included no "substantive new material". May 20 is the 140th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (141st in leap years). ... Template:Diffgggtgerent calendars 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Associated Press logo The Associated Press, or AP, is an American news agency, the worlds largest such organization. ...


Asked why he had declined to sign the release earlier, Kerry responded:

The call for me to sign a 180 form came from the same partisan operatives who were lying about my record on a daily basis on the Web and in the right-wing media. Even though the media was discrediting them, they continued to lie. I felt strongly that we shouldn't kowtow to them and their attempts to drag their lies out.[58][59]

Navy Inspector General report on medals

In September 2004, Vice Admiral Ronald A. Route, the Navy Inspector General, completed a review of Kerry's combat medals, initiated at the request of Judicial Watch. In a memo to the Secretary of the Navy, Gordon England, Route stated [60]: September 2004 : January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December See also: September 2004 in sports Events Deaths in September • 27 Tsai Wan-lin • 24 Françoise Sagan • 20 Brian Clough • 18 Russ Meyer • 15 Johnny Ramone • 12 Fred Ebb • 11 Peter VII of Alexandria • 8... Ronald A. Route is a Vice Admiral and Inspector General of the U.S. Navy. ... Judicial Watch is a controversial American government watchdog organization founded in 1994. ... Flag of the United States Secretary of the Navy. ... Secretary Gordon R. England Gordon Richard England is an American businessman who (as of 2004) serves as the United States Secretary of the Navy. ...

Our examination found that existing documentation regarding the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals indicates the awards approval process was properly followed. In particular, the senior officers who awarded the medals were properly delegated authority to do so. In addition, we found that they correctly followed the procedures in place at the time for approving these awards.
Conducting any additional review regarding events that took place over 30 years ago would not be productive. The passage of time would make reconstruction of the facts and circumstances unreliable, and would not allow the information gathered to be considered in the context of the time in which the events took place.
Our review also considered the fact that Senator Kerry's post-active duty activities were public and that military and civilian officials were aware of his actions at the time. For these reasons, I have determined that Senator Kerry's awards were properly approved and will take no further action in this matter.

On September 23, Judicial Watch appealed on the basis that "no specific documentary examples ... were cited or offered as exhibits" in the Inspector General's letter of reply to Judicial Watch. [61] Judicial Watch also filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documentation of the investigation. On October 4, the Navy Inspector General's office responded with documentation of the investigation. [62] [63] On October 12, Judicial Watch released comments on the IG decision to include the following... September 23 is the 266th day of the year (267th in leap years). ... The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the implementation of freedom of information legislation in the United States. ... October 4 is the 277th day of the year (278th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ...

"The substance of what would have been a legitimate investigation – interviews of eyewitnesses, reviews of travel records, transcripts, FBI files and other relevant material – were not pursued by Naval IG investigators. Instead, Admiral Route and his investigators exhausted their investigative efforts reviewing a Washington Post article from Aug. 22, 2004, and a Newsweek report from the Aug. 30, 2004, edition. The unnamed investigator(s) also relied on Kerry’s presidential campaign Internet site to conduct the investigation."
“It’s clear that both the uniformed and civilian leadership of the U.S. Navy view the Kerry matter as a political ‘hot potato.’ The leadership of the Navy has failed to ensure its awards process was not corrupted.[64]

In an October 5 letter to Judicial Watch, Secretary England deferred to the Inspector General's authority as the investigating officer, and declined to initiate a separate review. [65] October 5 is the 278th day of the year (279th in Leap years). ...


See also

1st Lt. ...

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