Skip to comments.Swift Boat Veterans Condemn Kerry as Unfit to Command
Posted on 05/04/2004 11:00:32 AM PDT by GrandMoM
WASHINGTON It was the news conference John Kerry did not want to see happen.
In a standing-room-only suite at National Press Club, former Swiftee John ONeill, spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, told reporters that the junior U.S. senator from Massachusetts spent 45 minutes on the phone with group founder Rear Adm. Roy Hoffman, USN (Ret.), trying to discourage the band of brothers from going public with their united sentiment that Kerry is unfit to be the nations commander in chief.
The effort failed, and in a 90-minute session one veteran after another described with brutal honesty why he fixed his signature to a public letter to the Democrat candidate condemning Kerrys allegations of war crimes and demanding that the former decorated Swift Boat skipper authorize the Department of Defense to release all his military records.
The letter, which is the centerpiece of the organizations efforts, is signed, said ONeill, by Swift Boat veterans at all levels and from the entire political spectrum; the entire chain of command during the period Kerry served in Vietnam; veterans who participated in the engagements resulting in his medals; and the majority of officers who served with him in Coastal Division 11, the unit in which he spent most of his abbreviated four-month tour of duty.
Leading off the parade of vets who trooped up to the podium was Rear Adm. Hoffman, who remarked, I signed this letter because I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States. This is not a political issue. It is a matter of his judgment, truthfulness, reliability, loyalty and trust all absolute tenets of command.
Hoffman, the former commander of Task Force 115, was near the top of Kerrys chain of command while the senator was a young lieutenant junior grade serving in Vietnam in 1968-69.
Some of the comments:
Veteran Steve Gardner: I watched him put his crew in jeopardy, his indecisive moves Needs 'Constant Supervision'
Veteran Charles Plumley, who was seriously wounded in Swift Boat river operations combat, described Kerry as self-absorbed, requiring constant supervision.
Veteran Robert Friar Tuck Brant emotionally described how he was going to visit the Vietnam War Memorial wall right after the press conference and tell my two dead crewmates not to pay attention to how Kerry has dishonored them with his charges of nearly universal war crimes and atrocities (referring especially to Kerry's testimony on Capitol Hill in 1971).
Veteran James M. Zumwalt (son of the late Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, former chief of naval operations during Kerrys tour of duty) chastised Kerry for repeating some of his Capitol Hill falsehoods again in the book Tour of Duty. He [Kerry] has a personality disorder.
Veteran Barnard Wolff: He needs to clarify that first Purple Heart.
Veteran Andy Horne: Kerry left us with the stain of sewage.
Veteran Robert G. Elder: We didnt loose the war on the ground in Vietnam, we lost it at home, and at home John Kerry was the field general.
Veteran Grant Hibbard: Kerrys former immediate commander decried the first Purple Heart award. I received the report on the mission; there had been no enemy fire. Hibbard went on to explain that his only information was that Kerry himself had perhaps fired an M-79 grenade at the shore and got scratched from his own friendly fire. There was no medical treatment. To this day I have no information [re the medal] on how or whom. But ONeill told NewsMax.com that the medals and their back stories were not the real issue being targeted by the organization, referring to the second paragraph of the letter to Kerry:
'Grossly and Knowingly Distorted'
It is our collective judgment that, upon your return from Vietnam, you grossly and knowingly distorted the conduct of the American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen of that war (including a betrayal of many of us, without regard for the danger your actions caused us.) Further, we believe that you have withheld and/or distorted material facts as to your own conduct in this war.
But it is with regard to the latter sentence of the charge that ONeill and others get vague.
When asked by NewsMax if they had in mind any potential smoking gun of distortion that might be revealed by an unfettered examination of Kerrys military records, there was no answer forthcoming.
The organizations letter to Kerry ends with:
Senator Kerry, we were there. We know the truth. We have been silent long enough. The stakes are too great, not only for America in general but, most important, for those who have followed us into service in Iraq and Afghanistan. We call upon you to provide a full, accurate accounting of your conduct in Vietnam.
At the time of this writing Kerry's campaign headquarters, only blocks away from the Press Club, had no response to the letter or the news conference.
ONeill, however, made it clear that the group was not on the Kerry camp's hit parade, making reference to the fact that some were referring to his organization as a collection of bitter alcoholics.
The 30-some Swift Boat vets on hand for the press meeting said that there was no political agenda and that they gained no joy from the enterprise but considered it a hallowed duty. As ONeill said in his opening remarks:
We endorse nobody. If a fit choice [for president] emerged, we would all be going home.
O'Neill, an attorney in Houston, served in the same naval unit as Kerry and commanded Kerry's Swift Boat after Kerry left country.
Kerry's tour of duty lasted four months, ending at his own request after he received his third Purple Heart. According to naval regulations at the time, any service member who received three Purple Hearts could request a transfer out of the combat zone.
O'Neill is perhaps best remembered for his debate with Kerry in 1971 on "The Dick Cavett Show." He fought Kerry's allegations that many Vietnam soldiers had routinely engaged in atrocities. At the time Kerry was the spokesman for the anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Appearing on "Meet the Press in 1971, Kerry said that he and other U.S. troops committed "atrocities" in Vietnam. To this day he will not give details of what "atrocities" he committed.
Appearing on "Meet the Press" last month, he said: "I think the word ['atrocities'] is a bad word. I think it's an inappropriate word. The words were honest, but on the other hand they were a little bit over the top. I don't like it when I hear it today."
Atrocities: "Bad, inappropriate, honest, over the top, don't like it." Which is it again, Senator?
No Fair. Such a question will just toggle the Flip Flop to another state. :-)
No wonder Kerry wanted to derail this.
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