Skip to comments.Ex- Navy Lt. John Kerry is no brother of mine
Posted on 02/29/2004 1:14:18 PM PST by Maria S
I am a Vietnam veteran and retired Marine. I served as a rifle company commander in Vietnam in 1966, 1967 and 1968, and I know I can speak for the majority of the Marines with whom I served.
Most of these guys are now in their 50s and well integrated into all walks of society. Most also spent complete 13-month tours in Vietnam unless they came home on stretchers or in caskets. And many did.
Presidential candidate John Kerry's service in Vietnam is not the issue. It is his anti-war activities after he came home that, to this day, sticks in the craw of most Vietnam vets - at least the ones I know. While exercising the free speech that so many Americans have fought and died for, he was at worst duped or just terribly insensitive; at best, he was bashing his fellow servicemen while many were still dying in the rice paddies of Vietnam.
At Kerry's request, he was released from active duty early and then joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 23, 1971, Kerry claimed he had been told by returning servicemen that they had "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 a fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam. . . . "
Later it turned out that many of the so-called Vietnam veterans who had provided Kerry this information had not even served in Vietnam while others had not even served in the military at all. Certainly there were atrocities committed in Vietnam and every other war, but most of the guilty were tried and punished.
So Kerry, in exercising his free speech, shot a dagger through the heart of every Vietnam veteran, and that is what we, after all these years, are still mad as hell about. It is not his military service that is in question; it is his terrible judgment.
Recently, I heard a Democrat say, ". . . (P)ersonally, I don't much like Kerry, but I don't doubt what he did in Vietnam. . . ." He obviously was referring to Kerry's honorable and heroic service. I, too, do not doubt what Kerry did while in Vietnam. But can we separate John Kerry the war hero from John Kerry the Vietnam Veterans Against the War protester? In other words, can we mention one without mentioning the other? Well, let's look at it this way. If we had a hero in our local fire department who left that service and became an arsonist, would we refer to this person as a hero or an arsonist or both?
Benedict Arnold was first a hero, then a traitor. How do we remember him now?
John Kerry, who made a dramatic public splash with his anti-war stand, now wraps himself in his Vietnam veteran status.
At each Kerry personal appearance there are several men wearing ball caps with some sort of military logos. Who are these men? One interviewed on TV a few nights ago identified himself as a former member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and a pal of Kerry. These are the guys whom Kerry likes to call his "Band of Brothers."
He is dreaming if he thinks the majority of Vietnam veterans will support him for president.
Some will and many won't. Here's one who won't.
John Regal lives in Canyon. He retired from the Marine Corps with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
I read this a lot, and I wonder why everyone is giving Kerry a pass on his Vietnam history. From what I hear, Kerry's actual Vietnam record may be shameful, and even if not is likely not praiseworthy. I for one question the circumstances of all of his decorations. I'll be happy to back down if they turn out to be legitimately and properly awarded, but I want to see proof of that.
None of my combat veteran friends will have anything to do with this nutcase, jf'ink. Not even one of his fellow PTSD'ers that I know. He can't be trusted.
The day after Christmas, 1967, an operation called "Badger Tooth" began. The first day was strangely quiet. Not at all characteristic of search and destroy missions on the DMZ or in northern "I" Corps. On the second day, Marines from 3/1 left their footprints and blood along the eastern shoulder of the "Street Without Joy" - named by the French to reflect their equally brutal experiences in the coastal villages just south of the Cua Viet.
Late on the morning of the the 27th, Marines from Kilo heard a fierce battle begin in the distance. A radio report confirmed that it was Lima Company - in "serious shit" - at a nearby village called Tham Khe. Kilo stopped in the shadow of a battle scarred old French Catholic Church - to clean our weapons and prepare for what would become, for many, the third act in a three act play.
Kilo was ordered to lead an advance against the southern perimeter of the village - hoping to come in behind the NVA - and take the pressure off of Lima who were badly mauled just north of Tham Khe. We soon learned that Mike Company had joined Lima to help, and that they too were taking heavy casualties.
As the lead squad from Kilo approached the treeline, elements of the 116th NVA Battalion waited patiently - hidden in reinforced bunkers and camouflaged fighting trenches. It was a clever trap where the bait became the predator in a strange reversal of roles.
About 25 meters from the trees, first squad was shredded - caught crossing open flat sand, with no cover or concealment. Friends from second squad, who tried to reach them to help, were also killed. In just a few hours, the bodies of 136 young Marines littered the sand surrounding a small obscure village. Forty eight of the battalion died that afternoon. Another 88 of us were wounded.
When the battle subsided that evening, CH-46 helicopters were finally able to make it to us, under the cover of darkness. The dead and wounded were quickly piled aboard, for evacuation to the USS Valley Forge (LPH-8), laying just off shore. Triage aboard ship was a nightmare of chaos and confusion. It was a grisly scene. Our dead were stacked at one end of the hangar deck. The wounded, on stretchers, covered the remaining deck space. They were in varying states of shock - trembling and leaking blood from hastily applied battle dressings. Some were writhing and softly groaning with pain. Others were trying to sit up - desperately looking around for the damaged bodies of their friends.
The mood was somber and deeply caring. I recall feeling very sorry for a young sailor I watched walk along the periphery of our litters. Tears ran down his cheeks and his eyes were bulging with confused disbelief. He was in shock and horrified by the image that lay before him. Somehow I pitied him - thinking this was a "Marine" thing. This was war in Vietnam - and only we could understand it. In a strange sense, I thought he should be protected from the truth and the reality that we lived.....
We later learned that the NVA had spent the preceding year constructing over 100 reinforced bunkers, 220 camouflaged fighting holes, interconnecting trenches, and a huge tunnel complex at Tham Khe. They had even cultivated indigenous plants for natural camouflage. The Tham Khe fortifications have been described in the Marine Corps Vietnam archives as "an almost impregnable defensive bastion."
When the horrific "after action report" was transmitted to Marine headquarters, a military inquiry was convened. Although later exonerated, many from 3/1 believed the casualty rates were the result of a reckless and arrogant command failure at the battalion level. A hopelessly flawed strategy that resulted in a senseless waste of Marine lives. For many "Badger Tooth" became synonymous with the concept of slaughter - earning 3/1 an infamous nickname as the "Suicide Battalion".
Every year on the 27th of December, I reflect upon what happened. When I close my eyes I can still screen the events of that dreadful day on the inside of my eyelids. Bullets in my chest remain as silent reminders of the carnage, on a late December afternoon, when we were very young.....
I think about everyone who died. And the collective suffering of the wounded - especially among families, both American and Vietnamese, who were devastated by the loss of their fine young sons. I also remember the bravery that was so very common that day. Tremendous acts of courage that went without acknowledgment or recognition - when a decision was made by the battalion commander that no medals were to be awarded for individual acts of heroism....
Last August I was privileged with an invitation to attend a Mike Company 3/1 reunion. The highlight of the gathering was a candlelight "Memorial Ceremony" - to honor our brothers who fell in battle. Votive candles bearing the names of our dead were lighted as the long lists of names were read. I was asked to read the names from Kilo Company. And honored to do so.
When reading the names of friends from the past, especially those from my squad, I frequently paused for composure. At the same time, I thought of all of those from 3/1 who fell on "Badger Tooth". By the end of the Memorial Service, when "Taps" was played, there were many many tears throughout the room. It was evident that we still hold all of our fallen brothers close in our hearts. They will live forever in our memories and in our souls.
On Memorial Day, 2000, the name of David O. Kamp was added to panel 32 E of the Vietnam War Memorial. Corporal Kamp served as a radio man with Lima Company and sustained grievous gunshot wounds on Operation Badger Tooth. In addition to multiple chest wounds, a gunshot wound to the neck left him paralyzed. For 30 years this brave Marine lived with total paralysis - before finally succumbing in 1997. May he and all of the Marines who died on Badger Tooth rest in peace.
Michael Thill (former sergeant)
Kilo 3/1 - 1967 Marine Corps 1965-68
GWB DID go into the Air National Guard in order to avoid being drafted as a soldier. Many tried, many succeeded.
Two years earlier, John Kerry seeks and gets a commission in the Navy. Wasn't Kerry in fact trying to avoid the draft by taking the Naval commission? I mean he could have sought an Army commission or even joined the Marines.
I am in no way trying to suggest that naval service is anything but honorable. But is it not a fact that Kerry had very little chance of being shot at when he signed up? Is it not a fact that Kerry wanted to keep his "political viability" alive by getting his DD-214?
I haven't read every thread on Kerry's service so don't know if this angle has been discussed.
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