I don't usually put up much political stuff here, but this report really disturbed me. I've been unsure of who to vote for and not really thrilled about either of the major candidates. But something about Kerry always makes me feel like he's lying and can't be trusted. Anyway, this report really disturbed me so I thought I would post it. I added the link to the website for anyone who wants to verify it. I'd love to hear your responses.
A Swift Current of Controversy
By Melissa CharbonneauWhite House Correspondent
August 10, 2004
This is part one of a two part series on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's controversial tour of duty as a Swift Boat captain during the Vietnam War.
CBN.com – WASHINGTON - It is a presidential portrait. John Kerry cruising Boston harbor with his band of brothers from Vietnam, 12 Navy veterans vouching for his military record. But other veterans who also served with Kerry are painting a different picture.
One says, "He is lying about his record. He dishonored his country. I served with John Kerry. He cannot be trusted."
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is a group of 250 admirals, officers, and sailors who served in Vietnam, many from Kerry's own division.
In their first reunion since the war, they've cut a commercial to speak out against Kerry's campaign for president. "Our position is that John Kerry is not fit to be President."
Retired Rear Admiral Roy Hoffman, who leads the group, was captain of all Swift Boat personnel and Kerry's commander. He calls Kerry a loose cannon who lied about his record.
Hoffman says, "His idol was, without any question, J.F.K. - John F. Kennedy. Kennedy got his fame with a PT boat, you know, and Kerry came in there with the same idea. He was going to build a political base, was going to come in, going to do a job, going to get some medals and going to get out. And that's exactly what he did."
Bob Elder was one of Kerry's fellow officers, and one of 11 who demanded that Kerry stop using their images in his campaign commercial.
Elder explains, "Since John Kerry came home, he has been lying continuously and methodically about his service in Vietnam. There are events and facts he has totally fabricated."
Tom Wright, a former commander of Kerry's who commanded a division of Swift Boats, had his problems with Lieutenant JG Kerry. He points out, "We'd be running down somewhere, and he'd take a potshot over at something at the beach when we weren't supposed to be shooting. I got to the point where I could not depend on what he was doing. I told the division commander to take him out of my group."
And Steve Gardner served two months under Kerry's command. He says, "I watched him do things that caused us to be in jeopardy. I watched him do indecisive things with our boat. I watched. He was undependable. We would get in a firefight sometimes, and I wouldn't know which way the boat would be turning."
Gardner says one thing was clear for John Forbes Kerry. "That he was going to be the next JFK. It was something that was like a litany with him."
Within weeks of arriving in Vietnam, Kerry would record his first combat-related injury, on December 2, 1968. In his biography "Tour of Duty," Kerry describes a firefight when his "M-16 jammed." He "bent down "to grab another gun," and "a stinging piece of heat socked into" his "arm."
Dr. Louis Leston, the doctor who treated Kerry, states, "We didn't give him any anesthesia. We didn't even give him a bullet to bite on." Leston says he treated Kerry's minor injury, removing a small metal fragment and applying a bandaid.
"It was a little piece," continues Leston. "It was about the size of a wooden matchstick, maybe 2-3 millimeters in diameter, about a half-inch long, and it was imbedded in the skin. It was pretty simple to grab it with a clamp, pull it out, and that's all there was to it. It wasn't anything you had to explore in the wound for, or probe for; it didn't require any suturing to close the wound up. It wasn't even bleeding."
Leston says Kerry claimed he had been wounded by hostile fire; Kerry's crewmen told medics that he had wounded himself.
Leston remarks, "He'd fired a weapon, a grenade launcher, that hit some rocks and exploded, ricocheted, and that's where the fragment in his arm came from. Remember, he'd only been in Vietnam two weeks, and had just met this crew, and he's already told them that one day he's going to be the next president, that he'd be the next J.F.K. from Massachusetts."
Kerry's division commander Grant Hibbard says Kerry requested a Purple Heart, but Hibbard refused, after de-briefing others on the mission.
Hibbard comments, "I don't think it warranted a Purple Heart. A lot of Purple Hearts are minor injuries, but they do require enemy fire. And they told me about what transpired, and there'd been no enemy fire. And the next thing I knew, Lt. JG Kerry said, 'but I've got a wound.' And I saw a little scratch on his arm, as I remembered. He was holding this tiny piece of shrapnel that appeared to come from an M-79. And I don't remember the exact comment, but I probably said forget it."
Neither the military nor Kerry's campaign can provide records that document enemy fire. So how did Kerry get the Purple Heart?
Hibbard responds, "That's a good question!"
Kerry got approval three months later, after Commander Hibbard had left for the States. The Swift Vets also question a March 1969 incident that earned Kerry his Bronze Star and third Purple Heart.
Kerry's courage was highlighted at the Democratic National Convention. Kerry was hailed as a hero by his own platoon, and by a former Green Beret who says, "John Kerry saved my life."
Jim Rassman's account is documented in Kerry's film biography, and Rassman described the account on film in the following manner, "We had gone up a canal and the boat to our left hit a mine. Simultaneously, we came under fire from both banks. John was wounded, and I was blown off the boat into the water. By the time I surfaced, the boats were gone and I was all by myself."
CBN News showed the clip to three sailors involved in the action that day. The reaction from the Swifties…"Aawww, totally false; yeah, come on."
The Kerry film continued, "John turned around and all of them came back for me. And all of these rounds kept coming in, and John ran up and dropped down on hands and knees, and pulled me over. Had he not come out on the bow like that, I'd be dead."
The Swifties responded to this segment by saying, "This had nothing to do with what happened that day."
Swifties Jack Chenoweth, Larry Thurlow and Van O'Dell were in the river, just yards from Kerry's boat, when boat three hit the mine.
Chenoweth says, "All of a sudden, the mine was detonated under the boat; it went six feet out of the water."
Thurlow interjects, "Immediate chaos."
O'Dell remembers, "I opened up with my machine gun to suppression fire, and raked the banks."
Then-skipper Richard Pees comments, "When I looked down, my entire lap was covered with blood and I couldn't feel my legs."
Chenoweth adds, "And we noticed two people were blown off the boat, and went to pick them out of the water."
Thurlow says, "During this time, John Kerry's boat -- on the other side of the river, and which had no mine go off near it -- had taken off rapidly down the river, and they lost one of the men on board, Lt. Rassman. We don't know how he got out of there so quickly. We do know he came back when there was absolutely no fire from either bank, and when there was a rather calm situation, and he plucked Lt. Rassman out of the river."
Kerry's Bronze Medal for his heroic rescue of Rassman is partly based on his after-action report that cites he was under heavy arms fire from both banks, that continued for 5,000 meters, which is about three miles.
Pure fabrication, say eyewitnesses in the other boats.
Thurlow notes, "If there had been that volume of fire, just what was depicted in that picture, we're talking several minutes of small arms fire off the bank? There's not even one bullet hole in one boat the entire day!"
O'Dell says, "There was absolutely no fire coming from river left, from river right; there were no rockets, there was no other mine that went off."
The Swift Vets say Kerry did nothing heroic, as his campaign contends.
O'Dell comments, "It wasn't any more heroic than any other action by Swift crewman in the river that day."
Thurlow remarks, "If it had happened in the way it was written up, yes, then it might have been a heroic action, but the write up was totally false. I know this because I saw it."
Chenoweth remembers, "Four people were picked out of the water that day, and he's the only one getting a medal for it."
The Swifties also question Kerry's Purple Heart in the river incident.
Thurlow says, "His boat was not hit. He was involved in nothing that would cause him to sustain the injuries he reported for his citation."
Kerry's Bronze Star citation cites his bleeding arm from the mine detonation. This injury report lists a minor contusion on the right forearm, a bruise, say Swift vets, not enough for a Purple Heart.
That's why, the Vets contend, this was mentioned -- a shrapnel wound to Kerry's left buttock.
Thurlow says that was self-inflicted, from a friendly fire grenade earlier that day, tossed to destroy a Vietcong rice supply. Kerry himself mentions it in "Tour of Duty," - "having bits of shrapnel and rice extracted from his backside."
The Swift vets say Kerry cited both wounds to apply for his Purple Heart. And within four days of the river incident, Kerry's transfer orders were approved.
"He got exactly what he wanted out of it. He knew if he got three Purple Hearts, he'd have an automatic ticket home and he made sure he, in fact, earned three Purple Hearts in the space of four months and 12 days and he went home."
Kerry qualified for a Navy policy that allowed thrice-wounded sailors to leave a combat zone, leaving his fellow crewmen behind to serve their 12-month tours of duty.
Kerry's abbreviated tour freed him to pursue his next path in life, one that would that would spark more heated outrage from his fellow veterans.