Skip to comments.Veterans and the Kerry Controversy [Vets Question His Record]
Posted on 02/22/2004 9:11:44 PM PST by Hon
Veterans and the Kerry Controversy
February 21, 2004
It seems the spin-doctors have gone to work early in the John F. Kerry campaign. As he makes his run to be the Democrat nominee in the race for the presidency, there is great trumpeting of his combat service in Vietnam, along with the medals he was awarded for that service. In true political fashion the spin machine wants to proclaim him a distinguished hero, while at the same time cautioning all who happen to raise an eyebrow that nobody should question Kerrys service or valor.
I would argue that anyone who experienced shots fired in anger has the right to ask questions about any other person who makes similar claims. John Kerry and company have opened some ugly wounds and brought back to the surface sad memories of a painful war. They should be prepared to field and reply to any and all questions about the candidates actions in that long ago Vietnam.
To be objective, it must be pointed out Kerry did serve off the coast of Vietnam aboard the USS Gridley for six months between December 1967 and June 1968. He was an officer in the electrical department during a relatively uneventful short tour.
On December 1, 1968 Kerry arrived in Vietnam and assumed command of Patrol Boat Fast Swift Boat #44, on which he served until late in January 1969. Records show that on December 2, 1968 he was slightly wounded in his arm, earning his first Purple Heart.
In late January, Kerry was transferred to Swift Boat #94. Records indicate the boat had 18 missions during the next 48 days. Almost all were in the MeKong Delta.
According to military documents, Kerry sustained minor shrapnel wound to his left thigh on February 20, 1969. He was awarded his second Purple Heart.
The actions, which unfolded on February 28, led to Lt. Kerrys first award for valor. When his patrol craft received rocket fire from shore, he ordered his boat beached in the center of the enemy position. An enemy fighter jumped from an emplacement just a few feet from where the boat beached and attempted to flee. He was shot and wounded by the patrol craft gunner, firing a twin 50-caliber machine gun. As the wounded Viet Cong darted behind a shack for protection, the gunner fired an estimated 50 rounds through the building. Kerry than leaped from the boat and ran to the shack. Though it is not stated in the citation, Kerrys later remarks were that he administered a coup de grace to the wounded enemy and returned to his boat with a B-40 rocket and launcher. He then moved his boat approximately 800 yards further up river to suppress enemy fire. He again ordered his boat beached and personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy. Later, sweeping the area the crew uncovered a supply dump, which was destroyed. The citation lauds Kerrys daring and personal courage in attacking a numerically superior force during that highly successful mission. He was awarded the Silver Star.
On March 13, 1969 when his Swift Boat was exiting the Bay Hap River a mine detonated wounding Lt Kerry in the right arm. The five boats in that patrol all started receiving fire from the riverbanks. Kerry discovered he had a man overboard and went to assist. While in an exposed position in the bow of the boat, he pulled the man aboard, and then directed his boat to assist another damaged boat to safety. For this action, Kerry was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V. He was also awarded his third Purple Heart.
On March 17, 1969, just four days after the Bay Hap River action, Lieutenant (jg) John F. Kerry requested relief under a rule, which allowed recipients of three Purple Hearts to be reassigned to a non-combat duty. He was returned to the United States. Shortly after his return, Kerry requested an early release from the Navy so that he might campaign for Congress.
This is the brief four-month combat duty of John F. Kerry, as closely as it can be reconstructed. He has talked repeatedly of his Navy service, but has never explained the details of his personal involvement.
Retired Marine Major Frank Stolz of Round Rock, Texas has some deep concerns about Kerrys Swift Boat exploits and his swifter tour of duty in Vietnam. He returned to the USA after all of four months with the swift boats, says Stolz. He reminded his Commanding Officer that he had three Purple hearts and should be allowed to leave the combat zone. His behavior during this period was reckless and his medals are in question. There was killing of unarmed civilians and later a wounded soldier, which earned him a Silver Star. He had to do a lot of the writing for this award himself, or he talked his crew members into writing him up, as he was the only officer.
Stolz points out an important fact that is never mentioned when Kerry campaign personnel speak of their candidates heroism. Wounded enemy soldiers are brought to the rear for questioning, as required by the Geneva Conventions, UN policy and U.S. military doctrine. Only when the enemy soldier is fighting or when returning him would jeopardize your unit is it permissible to kill him. Obviously that wounded soldier could have been carried to the swift boat, taken to the medics and then to the interrogators.
Retired Army Colonel George R. Givens of Paige, Texas also has reservations as to the propriety of Kerrys action under fire. As I understand it, the enemy attacked his boat and he responded by grounding the boat, leaping off, and personally pursuing a wounded enemy, which he killed.
At the time he was Commander of his Swift Boat. Think about it. In the middle of an attack, the Captain of the Ship runs his boat aground, leaves the boat and crew of five enlisted men behind, and conducts needless, single handed pursuit of a fleeing enemy, while his boat and crew are especially vulnerable to further attack by possible hidden forces.
Swift Boats were not heavily armored or armed. One of the few defensive weapons they had was maneuverability, including leaving the area to call in air strikes or artillery. By intentionally grounding his boat so he could get off and conduct a one man chase, he took away one of the primary defenses of his boat.
There are still more questions veterans have about the four months of John Kerrys combat service. Most notable in the mind of this writer, are more than 100 email messages wanting to know the details of his three Purple Heart awards.
There are many who point to something which is traditional among combat troops and a concern of those in command large numbers fail to report minor wounds, knowing that if they do so it most likely will mean their removal from the unit and treatment at some medical facility. They just dont want to leave the members of their squads, platoons, or companies. Most men in combat units develop an unbreakable bond with their brothers in arms. They wont abandon those in their units, if there is any way to avoid separation.
So, in the case of John Kerry ALL want to know IF the wounds were minor, who treated them? IF there were no medical personnel, who decided they were combat wounds? IF it was decided they were wounds, who recommended they be submitted to receive the Purple Heart? And finally IF three Purple Hearts were the ticket out of combat, why did it take four long days for this officer to request relief and abandon those in his command?
There are dozens upon dozens of related Kerry Questions but they must be addressed in another commentary.
Thomas D. Segel
That is what Kerry and the Democrats want us to believe and that is the version they are putting out. However, that version is pure Bravo Sierra and is not supported by the facts or by Kerry's own statements.
It would indeed be extremely admirable if Kerry had knowingly taken "himself off the easy duty and into the harder combat seeing duty". That would make him another "Mr. Roberts".
However, Kerry never volunteered for combat or any duty he ever dreamed would get him into combat.
Kerry was the First Division Officer when he served on the USS Gridley.
John F. Kerry, the junior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts is positioning himself for a run at the Presidency in 2004. Ensign (and later LTJG Kerry) reported aboard GRIDLEY straight out of the Fleet Training Center, San Diego on 8 June 1967. This boot Ensign headed up First Division and is shown here with Calvert BM1 and BMCS Enochs. His biographical materials never mention this period even though he was aboard GRIDLEY much longer than he was in Vietnam. Between having these two old salts reporting to him and Captain Slifer after him all the time, Ensign Kerry was a busy young man.
What is "First Division"?
First Division is one of the "Deck Divisions" on a ship. In Navy slang, the "Deck Apes". They swab the decks. They chip paint. They paint the areas they finished chipping. After that, they swab, they chip and they paint somemore. The enlisted men at the bottom of the class at Navy Boot Camp end up in a Deck Division.
In the Ward Room, the First Division Officer is the lowest guy in the ship's officers pecking order. When the XO or the CO need an S.L.J.O. (Shitty Little Jobs Officer), the First Division Officer is the guy that gets the job.
Kerry was in charge of the least skilled sailors in the lowest prestige division on his ship and, apparently, his C.O., Captain Slifer, was not making life very pleasant for our Boston Blue Blood who was more used to sailing on John F. Kennedy's yacht.
What to do?
At the time, swift boats merely patrolled the coastline or ferried sailors between ships.
Most importantly, a mere Lt.(j.g.) was the Officer in Charge (OIC).
Instead of being the SLJO on the USS Gridley, in charge of Deck Ape Division, with Captain Slifer making his life miserable, Kerry pictured himself as the OIC of his own boat, roaring up and down the South China Sea out of the war and with no Captain Slifer anywhere in sight.
But, don't take my word for it.
Let's hear it from John F. Kerry himself:
Boston Globe, 6/16/2003: ........"I didn't really want to get involved in the war," Kerry said in a little-noticed contribution to a book of Vietnam reminiscences published in 1986. "When I signed up for the swift boats, they had very little to do with the war. They were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I was going to be doing."......... But two weeks after he arrived in Vietnam, the swift boat mission changed -- and Kerry went from having one of the safest assignments in the escalating conflict to one of the most dangerous.
Two weeks after Kerry assumed command of his swift boat, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt put into effect his idea of getting those swift boats out of glorified water skiing duty........
.......into the shooting war in the rivers of the Mekong Delta.
As Robert Burns once wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
Kerry signed up for being OIC of his own water skiing boat and here he was in the middle of a f---- war!!
What does Kerry do now after he has gone from glorified water skier straight into deep kim-chee?
Well, Kerry then racked up three Purple Hearts for "injuries" that kept him off duty for a grand total of.....drum roll, please..... two days of duty by his own admission and zero days according to his swift boat C.O.
Kerry then sea-lawyered himself out of combat after only four months and requested a transfer as an "Admiral's aide", preferably in "Boston, New York or Washington".
Boston Globe, 6/16/2003: ......... He requested and was granted a transfer out of Vietnam six months before his combat tour was slated to end on the grounds that he had earned three Purple Hearts. None of his wounds was disabling; he said one cost him two days of service and the other two did not lead to any absence. .........The bottom line is that Kerry could have remained but he chose to seek an early transfer.
When the Boston Globe asked Kerry to give permission for the release of his Navy medical records so that the Boston Globe could document what sort of injuries earned Kerry three Purple Hearts and a ticket out of combat after 4 months.........Kerry refused.
Every decision and/or request John F. Kerry ever made; from First Division Officer to swift boat OIC; from swift boat OIC to early termination of his combat tour; from early termination of his combat tour to Admiral's aide; from Admiral's aide to early discharge from active duty; from early discharge from active duty to politically-popular-in-Massachusets American-G.I.'s-are-war-criminals anti-war protestor.....
Every decision and/or request John F. Kerry ever made in his Navy carreer was made to further the comfort, safety and political ambitions of John F. Kerry.
There, that just about says it all.
He probably had the request already written just waiting for the 4th scratch, then held off submitting it so it wouldn't look like it had been planned all along.
This sounds like the opening chapters of a "Flashman" novel, in which the hero, a cowardly roguish Victorian English soldier, connives to remove himself from danger, but invariably ends up in the thick of it.
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