Skip to comments.VET DROPS BIG BOMB ON KERRY!! Phoenix Program Vietnam Vet Urges Kerry To Come Clean
Posted on 03/01/2004 1:05:21 PM PST by justme346
Vietnam veteran Larry J. ODaniel has today challenged former fellow officer and veteran, John Forbes Kerry to come clean with charges Kerry has made in the past. ODaniel, a decorated combat veteran and present Director of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition, served in the legendary Phoenix Program and says that the issue is one that the Senator himself has brought on.
His attempt to denigrate the service of our incumbent President while this legacy of his hangs on says much about the real issue of this election - Leadership and Character. The Senator from Massachusetts lacks both.
Senator John Forbes Kerry is attempting to be our generations Vietnam War hero, much the same way his avowed idol, John F. Kennedy was of that generation. Kerry falls short in many ways. His attempt to ride into the White House on the strength of medals for bravery is not enough. As a former officer who served as a combat advisor and participant in a Special Operations program, I know a little bit about integrity, courage, and character. Kerry lacks what it takes to be Commander in Chief.
If nominated, Kerry would be an extreme embarrassment to his party. On the surface, he seems to be the exact type of rival needed to run against a popular President with a military background, albeit not in combat. A popular President who proved his courage jockeying supersonic aircraft. On the surface, Kerry would seem to be able to cut into the military vote that has become increasingly one party over the past 30 years.
This senator, a JFK from Massachusetts, like the first JFK, is a Naval Officer. However, he has a record which speaks volumes about his current abilities and views. Kerry will both exploit his war record and run from it. His checkerboard past explains his actions today. He has been critical of the way the current war on terrorism has been waged. Inevitably, his criticism is always preceded by media notices of Kerry, decorated Vietnam war veteran. However, thirty three years ago, Kerry charged decorated war veterans with unspeakable crimes. Those charges were false and the Senator knew them to be false.
Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971, Kerry asserted he represented veterans, honorably discharged and very highly decorated, who participated in war crimes. These crimes were not isolated incidents, he charged, but crimes committed on a day - to - day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. Crimes that this country made them do. I remind the Senator that former GRU Colonel Stanislav Lunev said, the GRU funded every major anti-Vietnam organization. The Soviet Union spent twice as much money on this effort than they did in supplying weapons to Vietnam. Kerry helped the GRU with their efforts. Their goal was to make the military service in Vietnam a mark of shame. With his help, they succeeded.
Kerry asserted these veterans personally raped women, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned on the power. They cut off limbs; blew up bodies; randomly shot at civilians; razed villages like Ghenghis Khan; shot livestock for fun; poisoned food; and ravaged the Vietnamese countryside. From his personal experience, Kerry asserted that the Vietnamese only wanted to work in rice paddies without our helicopters strafing and napalming them and their villages. Our men died while our allies refused to help and fight. Kerry said we rationalized destroying villages in order to save them; accepted a My Lai; enforced free fire zones by shooting anything that moves. Our GIs falsified body counts while leaders glorified body counts. In a well orchestrated political move, he asked, how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? The well rehearsed veteran began his career that day.
A problem arises. Kerrys testimony was false. These charges were investigated then and since. My challenge as a veteran of one of the main programs Kerry and his colleagues used for the basis of these charges, the Phoenix Program - Prove them or apologize.
Kerrys widely covered charges largely paralleled that of another highly decorated veteran, LTC Anthony Herbert. Some of the unsubstantiated and uncorroborated accusations of Kerry were almost identical to specific charges leveled by Herbert. Both charged war crimes were ignored, uninvestigated, part of the routine. Well get to Herbert in just a second.
The prominence of Kerry and his cohorts, Jane Fonda and group, allowed phonies and wannabes then and now to make false allegations slandering real veterans of real programs, like mine of Phoenix. For example:
- Elton Mazione, claiming Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) credentials, Kerrys original organization, along with his friends, John Laboon, Eddie Swetz, and Kenneth Van Lesser. They claimed to kill children and remove body parts as part of the notorious Phoenix program. They were neither in Phoenix nor in Vietnam.
- Kerrys VVAW leader friend from 1971, Al Hubbard, lied about being an officer, Vietnam Veteran, and sustaining war injuries. Michael Harbert, another VVAW crony of Kerry, lied about his Vietnam service.
- Yoshia K. Chee claimed Phoenix operatives routinely resorted to the most hideous forms of torture, threw people out of helicopters, and decapitated prisoners. He was a phony.
- Mike Beamon, an alleged SEAL and Phoenix assassin, was never in the military.
The Senators own VVAW and similar groups relied upon people like:
K. Barton Osborn, a Vietnam veteran and testifier of atrocities to Congress. He told of prisoners being thrown out of helicopters, a woman starved to death, a prisoner being killed by a six inch dowel pushed through his ear. Osborn was not in Phoenix, refused to name names, and provided no documentation.
Lieutenants Francis Reitemeyer and Michael J. Cohn. Both sought conscientious objector status because of Phoenix. Reitemeyer testified to being assigned to Phoenix as an adviser and maintain a kill quota of fifty bodies a month. They became famous as My Lai hit the news. Neither served in Vietnam, or in Phoenix. Reitemeyer later denied receiving any assassination training. Both were students at Ft. Holabird when I underwent my intelligence training there.
Many relied upon the specific charges of Herbert, which were publicly aired in this same time frame as that of Senator Kerry, in order to prove their charges. Herbert was highly decorated, apparently corroborating the Senators charges. Despite highly specific unit naming charges of some 21 war crimes, the facts of a subsequent investigation contradict both Herbert and Kerry. Overall, this contemporaneous investigation lasted seven months. Investigators located and interviewed 333 personnel located in 31 different states, and six different foreign countries, including Vietnam. Out of the 21 incidents involved in the initial charges by Herbert, only seven charges had sufficient substance to merit action or further investigation. Two of the seven had already been acted upon with justice administered. One ended with an article 15 punishment and one with a general court martial.
Two more of the seven involved Vietnamese versus Vietnamese offenses, outside the scope of American jurisprudence and not necessarily proven. The remaining three, at the time of the DA writing, November 5, 1971, were then pending further action by officers exercising general court martial jurisdiction. In other words, it was being further investigated to see if it warranted charges being filed. This shows atrocities and allegations of atrocities were neither condoned nor swept under the rug.
The Senator allegedly knew from personal experience of atrocities being committed and condoned by officers at all levels of command. He was obligated to report those atrocities. There is no known record of any such report from the Senator. My Lai was not condoned, it was prosecuted. Fellow anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg, who likewise served in the war zone, belied atrocity charges being more pronounced in Vietnam versus previous wars. The Senator used trumped up allegations from phonies, wannabes, stretchers of the truth to sully the valor, service, and integrity of his fellow veterans to climb a political ladder of success. When sentiments changed, he embraced those same veterans becoming an alleged champion of the Vietnam era. He likewise used phonies to slander some 2000 specific veterans of the Phoenix program like myself. He has never proven one charge.
When challenged last year to repudiate his previous testimony, after I faxed to his office for review, a spokesman there abruptly terminated the call saying if Senator Kerry testified to it, he stands by it. The Senator recently condoned the alleged atrocities, war crimes, committed by a fellow Democratic Senator and Vietnam Veteran, Robert Kerrey. He said the operation should not be investigated because it allegedly happened all the time in Vietnam. Further, on the Sam Donaldson show, Kerry short shirted the program, Phoenix, under which the atrocity allegedly occurred, saying he personally helped conduct similar anti-infrastructure operations, ferrying SEALs. This, apparently is part of the source of the Senators alleged first hand knowledge he testified to before.
The Senator, as a former officer, knows his obligations were to avoid participating in war crimes and reporting them when knowledge of them occurred. Instead, the Senator broad brushed veterans of the war as crazed killers forced to be that because of governmental policy. As a US Senator, when faced head on with an allegation that a member of his party, his Senatorial Fraternity, Robert Kerrey helped cut a civilians throat and possibly commanded an operation that killed over 20 civilians without provocation, the Senator Kerry reverted to the 1971 allegations that everyone did it. He ignored the formalized eyewitness allegation by a veteran of that operation who belatedly lived up to a responsibility to report a crime. Murder in a war zone has no time limits for investigation nor prosecution.
The Senator, knows the charge is that Kerrey was on a Phoenix mission, like those he self proclaimed participated in, because the Senator and Sam Donaldson discussed that specific aspect on Donaldsons show. As I watched the Senators response from that show, he implied personal knowledge of those Phoenix missions, although he clearly ducked any involvement with Phoenix. No proud Vietnam warrior emerged in that interview.
My challenge is clear. Make the specific charges, times, dates, persons, programs, units involved, of war crimes as outlined in your 1971 testimony. Be specific on your own knowledge of these war crimes. Clear the air about Phoenix, your participation, knowledge, even suspicions. Support the investigation of the war crime allegations of your former colleague. Do not allow his status of being a fellow privileged fraternity member from doing your sworn duty, either now as a Senator, or from that era, where as an officer and gentleman, you claimed personal knowledge of atrocities.
Now for a short time, I want to get personal on those 1971 charges. I served in Vietnam from January 1969 to January 1970. I served in two different Provinces, Go Cong and An Xuyen and three different districts, Hoa Tan, Thoi Binh, and Song Ong Doc. I also served short stints in the Province headquarters to acquaint myself with each new duty post. My perspective of Phoenix is a little broader than most officers.
Concerning your allegations, they are as false as can be. In December 1968, we were told of the two LTs who chose conscientious objector status supposedly because of Phoenix. Each of us were given an opportunity to do likewise if we so chose. None did as none of us had heard any order, any teaching, any reason to suspect that Phoenix was an assassination program. I received my orders to Vietnam at Holabird, having previously been chosen for that duty at Fort Benning prior to finishing Infantry School.
I received orders for Phoenix in Vietnam. I was to go out in the field with my counterparts as an infantry adviser and engage in frequent ground combat. In addition, I was to be an intelligence analyst. Finally, many of us tripled up as Deputy District Senior Advisers as troops were to come home and advisory teams shrank in size.
We never received orders for assassination. To the contrary, we received orders that Phoenix was to be like every other program and civilians respected, the military justice system followed, and Geneva Conventions adhered to strictly. We were to report any violations and if our counterparts participated, we were to cease and attempt to cause our counterparts to cease. We further received an invitation that if after being chosen for Phoenix, we had reservations about our participation in this police activity, we could opt out of the program with no recriminations.
I enforced free fire zones in both Provinces. Before any targets were engaged by the pilots with whom I flew, they had to have my permission as I represented the Vietnamese government in their eyes. That meant I identified the targets as military, even if it was free fire. This I did on several occasions. Sometimes, the other side cooperated and fired first, making my job a lot easier.
I never heard of nor participated in any of the crimes you described. In IV Corps, for the better part of the year I served and until the end of the war, the adviser represented the bulk of Americans present. Contrary to your statement, I spent time in lonely outposts and on ambushes with my counterparts, sometimes being the lone American present. My life was literally in their hands and they never let me down. I utilized Kit Carson Scouts, or former VC as guides. Throughout the war, there is not one recorded instance of these Vietnamese turning on us. A friend of mine, Kiet Van Nguyen earned the Navy Cross, the second highest decoration (had he been an American he would have received the Medal of Honor) for rescuing an American pilot downed near the DMZ. His exploits were part of the movie Bat 21. None of your phonies got to know the Vietnamese personally like those of us who advised them and relied upon them for our support.
Many of us in Phoenix taught English to young students, helped in Civic Action projects, and mentored Vietnamese up and coming officers. We learned about their culture from our counterparts who were ten and twenty years our senior. I remember the beginnings of the charges against Phoenix as I began my tour of duty. I remember your charges that Market Time did not work after I returned. I knew you lied because Market Time forces were part of the Americans I cooperated with. They opened up the interior water lanes so that Vietnamese farmers could get their produce to market without having to be extorted by Viet Cong terrorists. I patiently waited 30 plus years to issue this challenge to you at the right time. This is that time.
Finally, concerning the service of our President. Since when is honorable service in any branch under any condition subject to your approval? In my family, there were five male cousins, all on active duty at the same time. Three of us served in Vietnam at the same time. The other two were Vietnam deferred because of the sole surviving son provisions. Other members of my family served both in wartime and peacetime. We are all veterans. National Guard service is a necessary service and someone has to fill the slot. Reserve time is necessary and someone has to fill the slot. All is honorable. Of the 8.7 million who served in the Vietnam era, are you trying to say that 6.0 million had less than honorable service because they did not serve in country? And in your Navy and Coast Guard, are you depreciating the value of the 600,000 who never came ashore but who saved our skins time in and time out with well placed naval gun fire for those of us on shore? Is that what your concept of service is?
I flew on armed aerial recon with Navy Seawolves and in the back seat of an OV-1 Birddog with a pilot who loved to show off his aerial acrobatics. I skimmed at tree top level full speed with our Huey pilots taking me to some meeting or back and forth between my posts. I know the thrill of flying at subsonic speeds. I know how my stomach turned when the bird dog pilot banked quickly to shoot rocket rounds in support of troops engaged in ground combat below. So I can appreciate the guts it takes to be a jet jockey and I thank God I was never one. Never would I question the Presidents courage even if he only flew stateside. He had his job and I had mine.
Once again my challenge to you, if you are up to it either morally or otherwise.
Either itemize those incidents you claim to have knowledge of or apologize to the veterans of Vietnam whose reputations, valor, and integrity you sullied then and now and renounce those charges you then and now refuse to itemize. I make this challenge as a veteran of Vietnam, Phoenix, and as a former fellow officer colleague. Duty - Honor - Country - These are our obligations. You are at a fork in a path. Integrity or disgrace. Your choice.
Larry J. ODaniel
Former CPT MI awarded Combat Infantryman Badge, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, Vietnam Unit Awards for Gallantry and Civic Action. Current Director National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition
"However, thirty three years ago, Kerry charged decorated war veterans with unspeakable crimes. Those charges were false and the Senator knew them to be false."
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Bravo to the man who wrote this article.
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