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Vetting the Vet Record. Is Kerry a proud war hero or angry antiwar protester?
NRO ^ | January 27, 2004, 8:25 a.m. | Mackubin Thomas Owens

Posted on 01/27/2004 9:56:56 AM PST by .cnI redruM

John Kerry, we know, is running against John Kerry: his own voting record. But there is another record that John Kerry is running against, and this has to do with his very emergence as a Democratic politician: Kerry, the proud Vietnam veteran vs. Kerry, the antiwar activist who accused his fellow Vietnam veterans of the most heinous atrocities imaginable.

John Kerry not only served honorably in Vietnam, but also with distinction, earning a Silver Star (America's third-highest award for valor), a Bronze Star, and three awards of the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat as a swift-boat commander. Kerry did not return from Vietnam a radical antiwar activist. According to the indispensable Stolen Valor, by H. G. "Jug" Burkett and Genna Whitley, "Friends said that when Kerry first began talking about running for office, he was not visibly agitated about the Vietnam War. 'I thought of him as a rather normal vet,' a friend said to a reporter, 'glad to be out but not terribly uptight about the war.' Another acquaintance who talked to Kerry about his political ambitions called him a 'very charismatic fellow looking for a good issue.'" Apparently, this good issue would be Vietnam.

Kerry hooked up with an organization called Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Two events cooked up by this group went a long way toward cementing in the public mind the image of Vietnam as one big atrocity. The first of these was the January 31, 1971, "Winter Soldier Investigation," organized by "the usual suspects" among antiwar celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory, and Kennedy-assassination conspiracy theorist, Mark Lane. Here, individuals purporting to be Vietnam veterans told horrible stories of atrocities in Vietnam: using prisoners for target practice, throwing them out of helicopters, cutting off the ears of dead Viet Cong soldiers, burning villages, and gang-raping women as a matter of course.

The second event was "Dewey Canyon III," or what VVAW called a "limited incursion into the country of Congress" in April of 1971. It was during this VVAW "operation" that John Kerry first came to public attention. The group marched on Congress to deliver petitions to Congress and then to the White House. The highlight of this event occurred when veterans threw their medals and ribbons over a fence in front of the Capitol, symbolizing a rebuke to the government that they claimed had betrayed them. One of the veterans flinging medals back in the face of his government was John Kerry, although it turns out they were not his medals, but someone else's.

Several days later Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His speech, touted as a spontaneous rhetorical endeavor, was a tour de force, convincing many Americans that their country had indeed waged a merciless and immoral war in Vietnam. It was particularly powerful because Kerry did not fit the antiwar-protester mold — he was no scruffy, wide-eyed hippie. He was instead the best that America had to offer. He was, according to Burkett and Whitley, the "All-American boy, mentally twisted by being asked to do terrible things, then abandoned by his government."

Kerry began by referring to the Winter Soldiers Investigation in Detroit. Here, he claimed, "over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did, they relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told their stories. At times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

This is quite a bill of particulars to lay at the feet of the U.S. military. He said in essence that his fellow veterans had committed unparalleled war crimes in Vietnam as a matter of course, indeed, that it was American policy to commit such atrocities.

In fact, the entire Winter Soldiers Investigation was a lie. It was inspired by Mark Lane's 1970 book entitled Conversations with Americans, which claimed to recount atrocity stories by Vietnam veterans. This book was panned by James Reston Jr. and Neil Sheehan, not exactly known as supporters of the Vietnam War. Sheehan in particular demonstrated that many of Lane's "eye witnesses" either had never served in Vietnam or had not done so in the capacity they claimed.

Nonetheless, Sen. Mark Hatfield inserted the transcript of the Winter Soldier testimonies into the Congressional Record and asked the Commandant of the Marine Corps to investigate the war crimes allegedly committed by Marines. When the Naval Investigative Service attempted to interview the so-called witnesses, most refused to cooperate, even after assurances that they would not be questioned about atrocities they may have committed personally. Those that did cooperate never provided details of actual crimes to investigators. The NIS also discovered that some of the most grisly testimony was given by fake witnesses who had appropriated the names of real Vietnam veterans. Guenter Lewy tells the entire study in his book, America in Vietnam.

Kerry's 1971 testimony includes every left-wing cliché about Vietnam and the men who served there. It is part of the reason that even today, people who are too young to remember Vietnam are predisposed to believe the worst about the Vietnam War and those who fought it. This predisposition was driven home by the fraudulent "Tailwind" episode some months ago.

The first cliché is that atrocities were widespread in Vietnam. But this is nonsense. Atrocities did occur in Vietnam, but they were far from widespread. Between 1965 and 1973, 201 soldiers and 77 Marines were convicted of serious crimes against the Vietnamese. Of course, the fact that many crimes, either in war or peace, go unreported, combined with the particular difficulties encountered by Americans fighting in Vietnam, suggest that more such acts were committed than reported or tried.

But even Daniel Ellsberg, a severe critic of U.S. policy in Vietnam, rejected the argument that the biggest U.S. atrocity in Vietnam, My Lai, was in any way a normal event: "My Lai was beyond the bounds of permissible behavior, and that is recognizable by virtually every soldier in Vietnam. They know it was wrong....The men who were at My Lai knew there were aspects out of the ordinary. That is why they tried to hide the event, talked about it to no one, discussed it very little even among themselves."

My Lai was an extreme case, but anyone who has been in combat understands the thin line between permissible acts and atrocity. The first and potentially most powerful emotion in combat is fear arising from the instinct of self-preservation. But in soldiers, fear is overcome by what the Greeks called thumos, spiritedness and righteous anger. In the Iliad, it is thumos, awakened by the death of his comrade Patroclus that causes Achilles to leave sulking in his tent and wade into the Trojans.

But unchecked, thumos can engender rage and frenzy. It is the role of leadership, which provides strategic context for killing and enforces discipline, to prevent this outcome. Such leadership was not in evidence at My Lai.

But My Lai also must be placed within a larger context. The NVA and VC frequently committed atrocities, not as a result of thumos run amok, but as a matter of policy. While left-wing anti-war critics of U.S. policy in Vietnam were always quick to invoke Auschwitz and the Nazis in discussing alleged American atrocities, they were silent about Hue City, where a month and a half before My Lai, the North Vietnamese and VC systematically murdered 3,000 people. They were also willing to excuse Pol Pot's mass murderer of upwards of a million Cambodians.

The second cliché is that is that Vietnam scarred an entire generation of young men. But for years, many of us who served in Vietnam tried to make the case that the popular image of the Vietnam vet as maladjusted loser, dehumanized killer, or ticking "time bomb" was at odds with reality. Indeed, it was our experience that those who had served in Vietnam generally did so with honor, decency, and restraint; that despite often being viewed with distrust or opprobrium at home, most had asked for nothing but to be left alone to make the transition back to civilian life; and that most had in fact made that transition if not always smoothly, at least successfully.

But the press could always find the stereotypical, traumatized vet who could be counted on to tell the most harrowing and gruesome stories of combat in Vietnam, often involving atrocities, the sort of stories that John Kerry gave credence to in his 1971 testimony. Many of the war stories recounted by these individuals were wildly implausible to any one who had been in Vietnam, but credulous journalists, most of whom had no military experience, uncritically passed their reports along to the public.

I had always agreed with the observation of the late Harry Summers, a well-known military commentator who served as an infantryman in Korean and Vietnam, that the story teller's distance from the battle zone was directly proportional to the gruesomeness of his atrocity story. But until the publication of the aforementioned Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and its History, neither Harry nor I any idea just how true his observation was.

In the course of trying to raise money for a Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Burkett discovered that reporters were only interested in homeless veterans and drug abuse and that the corporate leaders he approached had bought into the popular image of Vietnam veterans. They were not honorable men who took pride in their service, but whining welfare cases, bellyaching about what an immoral government did to them.

Fed up, Burkett did something that any reporter worth his or her salt could have done: he used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to check the actual records of the "image makers" used by reporters to flesh out their stories on homelessness, Agent Orange, suicide, drug abuse, criminality, or alcoholism. What he found was astounding. More often than not, the showcase "veteran" who cried on camera about his dead buddies, about committing or witnessing atrocities, or about some heroic action in combat that led him to the current dead end in his life, was an impostor.

Indeed, Burkett discovered that over the last decade, some 1,700 individuals, including some of the most prominent examples of the Vietnam veteran as dysfunctional loser, had fabricated their war stories. Many had never even been in the service. Others, had been, but had never been in Vietnam.

Stolen Valor made it clear why John Kerry's testimony in 1971 slandered an entire generation of soldiers. Kerry gave credence to the claim that the war was fought primarily by reluctant draftees, predominantly composed of the poor, the young, or racial minorities.

The record shows something different, indicating that 86 percent of those who died during the war were white and 12.5 percent were black, from an age group in which blacks comprised 13.1 percent of the population. Two thirds of those who served in Vietnam were volunteers, and volunteers accounted for 77 percent of combat deaths.

Kerry portrayed the Vietnam veteran as ashamed of his service:

We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped their memories of us. But all that they have done and all that they can do by this denial is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission, to search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war, to pacify our own hearts, to conquer the hate and the fear that have driven this country these last ten years and more, and so when in 30 years from now our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say "Vietnam" and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but mean instead the place where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning. But a comprehensive 1980 survey commissioned by Veterans' Administration (VA) reported that 91 percent of those who had seen combat in Vietnam were "glad they had served their country;" 80 percent disagreed with the statement that "the US took advantage of me;" and nearly two out of three would go to Vietnam again, even knowing how the war would end.

Today, Sen. Kerry appeals to veterans in his quest for the White House. He invokes his Vietnam service at every turn. But an honest, enterprising reporter should ask Sen. Kerry this: Were you lying in 1971 or are you lying now? We do know that his speech was not the spontaneous, emotional, from-the-heart offering that he suggested it was. Burkett and Whitley report that instead, "it had been carefully crafted by a speech writer for Robert Kennedy named Adam Walinsky, who also tutored him on how to present it."

But the issue goes far beyond theatrics. If he believes his 1971 indictment of his country and his fellow veterans was true, then he couldn't possibly be proud of his Vietnam service. Who can be proud of committing war crimes of the sort that Kerry recounted in his 1971 testimony? But if he is proud of his service today, perhaps it is because he always knew that his indictment in 1971 was a piece of political theater that he, an aspiring politician, exploited merely as a "good issue." If the latter is true, he should apologize to every veteran of that war for slandering them to advance his political fortunes.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: New Hampshire
KEYWORDS: 2004; johnkerry; kerryhypocracy; kerryrecord; opportunist; scumbag; traitor; vvaw
Why would a man who was

a) A commissioned officer

b) witnessed a US soldier running high voltage through a POW's sexual genitalia.

and

c) failed to report this atrocity immediately to his chain of command

be allowed to keep his decorations and maintain a record of having received an honorable discharge?

1 posted on 01/27/2004 9:56:58 AM PST by .cnI redruM
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To: .cnI redruM
SENATOR John Kerry's voting record
2 posted on 01/27/2004 10:01:37 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: .cnI redruM
Ketchup Boy Revised

You’re a Vet from Viet Nam,
My question is which side?
You pulled ahead in Iowa,
Hope you enjoyed the ride.
Dean is toast and three dropped out,
But you don’t have a chance.
Someone else will take the lead,
New Hampshire’s your last dance.
So sit back down and shut your yap,
The party soon is over.
Underdog you call yourself,
Please do not insult rover.

Conspiracy Guy 1/21/04
3 posted on 01/27/2004 10:07:11 AM PST by Conspiracy Guy (This tagline was produced by outsourced labor in India.)
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To: Conspiracy Guy
LOL! That was sweet.

Your a poet

don't ya' know it.

and your feet show it.

they're Longfellows.
4 posted on 01/27/2004 10:08:33 AM PST by .cnI redruM (Texas; more churches than any other state in the US!)
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To: .cnI redruM
Kerry will be whatever he think will do him the most good!

I despise him!

Tia

5 posted on 01/27/2004 10:10:21 AM PST by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: .cnI redruM
My latest follows.

Focus

Keep the faith and hang in there,
We need you, don’t lose sight.
Your support and yes your vote,
Will make this come out right.
It’s early yet but time moves fast,
So please don’t wait too long.
Let’s pull together once again,
To keep our country strong.
Kerry, Clark, or Howard Dean,
Who knows which one will be.
The one the democrats will pick,
To be their nominee.
The lucky winner gets to run,
A race he cannot win.
Yes come November Oh Oh Four,
George Bush it is again!

Conspiracy Guy 1/27/04
6 posted on 01/27/2004 10:11:45 AM PST by Conspiracy Guy (This tagline was produced by outsourced labor in India.)
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To: ArrogantBustard
Kerry is a two-faced, pandering sham artists. He lies with aplumb (like all leading dnc leadership must, to survive) and doesn't hesitate to denegrate America in favor of subjugating US rights to the international 'community'. He's also proud that he champions serial killing as a 'woman's right to choose'.
7 posted on 01/27/2004 10:12:45 AM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: .cnI redruM
Considering the medals he won were due much in part to the men he commanded (some whom died carrying out his orders), and considering he tossed those medals in the trash...I would make the analogy that he tossed the lives of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the garbage as well...so he's neither! He's just a northern yankee piece of toilet fish!
8 posted on 01/27/2004 10:26:48 AM PST by meandog ("Do unto others before they do unto you!")
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To: MHGinTN
His voting record tells me that he's a socialist, abortionist, control freak, and all-around dirtbag.

If there's derogatory information in his military record as well, it's gravy.

9 posted on 01/27/2004 10:40:35 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: .cnI redruM
I honor his service in Vietnam. Anyone who shed his blood there deserves no less. But, I hate his lies and mis-statements since. He and I share time on the rivers. I came back, have had a successful civilian career, married for 35 years, never needed any help from the Government, and stayed in the Naval Reserve for a total of 28 years, retiring as a Captain, twice recalled to active duty to serve again. Vietnam was the defining point in my life. It taught me how to lead people and it was where and when I recognized that I was an American Patriot. Unfortunately, John Kerry and I split there as he only discovered he could use his Vietnam service to get elected. Let's not allow that to occur again!
10 posted on 01/27/2004 10:49:18 AM PST by NavyCaptain
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To: .cnI redruM
IMO Kerry lied about the atrocities...because above all things Kerry an OPPORTUNIST

He seeks power...and anyone or anything that he can use to obtain hold or increase his power
is good...anything that doesn't is useless and anything or anyone that impedes his acquisition of or holding onto power is the enemy...

For Kerry truth is in the mind of the beholder there are no absolutes no right or wrong
he is pragmatic...

He is willing to switch sides as long as it doesn't alienate his power base (too much) and in doing so will gain him more than he lost..

He is (with all his character flaws) the consummate politician...what he isn't...imo...is a leader
11 posted on 01/27/2004 10:56:10 AM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: .cnI redruM
IMO Kerry lied about the atrocities...because above all things Kerry an OPPORTUNIST

He seeks power...and anyone or anything that he can use to obtain hold or increase his power
is good...anything that doesn't is useless and anything or anyone that impedes his acquisition of or holding onto power is the enemy...

For Kerry truth is in the mind of the beholder there are no absolutes no right or wrong
he is pragmatic...

He is willing to switch sides as long as it doesn't alienate his power base (too much) and in doing so will gain him more than he lost..

He is (with all his character flaws) the consummate politician...what he isn't...imo...is a leader
12 posted on 01/27/2004 10:56:13 AM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: .cnI redruM
Yes....I have witnessed worse things....I dont care.... if it saved one American kids life....
it was worth it...
Considering what our enemies doing at the time...
Monaday morning quaterbacking always feels so righteous
13 posted on 01/27/2004 10:59:41 AM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: NavyCaptain
Kerry is a living insult to anyone who takes pride in the uniform.
14 posted on 01/27/2004 11:02:23 AM PST by .cnI redruM (Texas; more churches than any other state in the US!)
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To: .cnI redruM
Roger that!
15 posted on 01/27/2004 11:06:57 AM PST by NavyCaptain
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To: joesnuffy
As one person who wore the uniform to another. It's not a question of Monday morning Quarterbacking. Kerry presents these atrocities as if they were gratuitous examples of senseless brutality and contempt. He acts like the people he saw doing these things just did the killing because it was fulfilling.

If Kerry wants to accuse an American soldier of killing someone just to relieve a hard-on, he needs to do so in a venue where that soldier can receive condign punishment and receive the rights due an accused criminal under the UCMJ. To make these statements to a press microphone, while surrounded by antiwar sycophants, without having the guts to name names and kick butt, is pathetic cowardice.
16 posted on 01/27/2004 11:09:36 AM PST by .cnI redruM (Texas; more churches than any other state in the US!)
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To: .cnI redruM
The simple truth is this: If Kerry saw these atrocities being committed he should be charged and tried for not reporting them.
17 posted on 01/27/2004 11:23:43 AM PST by Terry Mross
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To: Terry Mross
Exactamundo!
18 posted on 01/27/2004 11:25:20 AM PST by .cnI redruM (Texas; more churches than any other state in the US!)
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To: All
Kerry's 1971 testimony includes every left-wing cliché about Vietnam and the men who served there. It is part of the reason that even today, people who are too young to remember Vietnam are predisposed to believe the worst about the Vietnam War and those who fought it. This predisposition was driven home by the fraudulent "Tailwind" episode some months ago.

Despite Reston and Sheehan, to the best of my recollections, the mainstream media did little or nothing to counter the images and words of these "veterans" that Kerry speaks of and others protesting the war. Images and words that they, the mainstream media, used to flood America's living rooms night after night.

I remind those who read this that after the war North Vietnam's General Giap praised the American media as his most valuable guerilla.

Little has changed in the mainstream. Lies rule. Little or nothing is done to counter the "imminent threat" lie and nothing is done to counter the lie of the "Saddam had WMDs" reason for going to war. U.N. resolutions and nearly all of Dem rats in their Party joined Americans in demanding Saddam show us. He refused. He paid the price.

IMO, had there been an Internet and no "Fairness Doctrine" (i.e., talk radio free to discuss issues of the day) to counter Walter "North Vietnam's most trusted America" Cronkite there may have been serious peace talks following the Tet offensive in 1968.

[Kerry] should apologize to every veteran of that war for slandering them

He is not the only one who needs to apologize -- but don't look for internationalists who moved "beyond being Americans" to apologize. So don't hold your breath waiting for Walter "North Vietnam's most trusted America" Cronkite, et al. Ditto today's mainstream media vis-a-vis Iraq and the war to defend America against Her enemies.

19 posted on 01/27/2004 11:55:48 AM PST by WilliamofCarmichael
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To: .cnI redruM
Lots of Vietnam War myths exploded HERE!
20 posted on 01/27/2004 11:55:55 AM PST by Jaxter ("Vivit Post Funera Virtus")
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To: .cnI redruM
I think you might have misread part of the story. I went back and reread the story, and it seems to me that Kerry gave Congress his second hand account of the testimony he heard in Detroit in January 1971, at The "Winter Soldier Investigation". Apparently, most of that testimony could not be corobrrated by the Naval Investigative Service.

BTW, Dewey Canyon II started in January 1971 which was the South Vietnamese offensive into Laos supported by U.S. forces in adjacent I Corps, and the press made almost as much stink about it as the Cambodian Incursion in the previous year. Hence in April 1971 they called their D.C. operation Dewey Canyon III.

I respect his decorations and his military service, but not his second hand attestations and the rest of his service to this country.
21 posted on 01/27/2004 1:34:10 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
corobrrated = corroborated, what the heck
22 posted on 01/27/2004 2:00:36 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: neverdem
Even if his attestations were 2nd hand, he is responsible. He was an officer. He was charged with upholding the UCMJ. He was derelict in this duty and is therefore no longer worthy of an honorable discharge.
23 posted on 01/27/2004 4:46:39 PM PST by .cnI redruM (Texas; more churches than any other state in the US!)
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To: Jaxter
Very nice. Great site.
24 posted on 01/27/2004 5:41:41 PM PST by .cnI redruM (Texas; more churches than any other state in the US!)
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To: .cnI redruM
"John Kerry enlisted in the Navy in February of 1966, months before he graduated from Yale. In December of 1967 Ensign Kerry was assigned to the guided-missile frigate USS Gridley; after five months of service in the Pacific, with a brief stop in Vietnam, he returned to the United States and underwent training to command a Swift boat, a small craft deployed in Vietnam's rivers. In June of 1968 Kerry was promoted to the rank of lieutenant (junior grade), and by the end of that year he was back in Vietnam, where he commanded, over time, two Swift boats. He received the Purple Heart three times for wounds suffered in action, and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Navy's Silver Star for gallantry in action. Kerry was discharged from the Navy in January of 1970, and soon became one of the most prominent spokesmen for the antiwar movement."

http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/clips/news_2003_1119a.html

You'll find the above paragraph as the third one from the top if you go to the link. Kerry was out of the Navy for a year when he heard the bogus stories being told at the "Winter Soldiers Investigation". The audience before Congress was three months later in order to start his political career by smearing fellow veterans, denouncing the war and helping the commies.
25 posted on 01/27/2004 7:57:16 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: .cnI redruM
While this article focuses on the present Presidential Candidate, John Kerry, and how he evolved after his exceptional Service in Vietnam, it goes further to the depiction of the Vietnam Vet, as seen by the public through the portrayals of Imposters posing as combat Vets. Most of you have seen many wearing medals and telling stories of great gallantry, but in truth never served or heard a round fired in anger. They my friends are miserable human beings, and I think perhaps the honorable senator ran into a few of these low lives while young and impressionable.
26 posted on 01/27/2004 7:59:50 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: .cnI redruM
Now John Fn Kerry is reported to having admitted to committing war crimes in the Baltimore Sun.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/elections/bal-te.antiwar14feb14,0,2360661.story?coll=bal-election-headlines.
27 posted on 02/16/2004 10:34:25 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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