Skip to comments.“We Know the Truth” Some of Kerry’s Vietnam colleagues challenge the Democratic candidate.
Posted on 05/04/2004 3:10:44 PM PDT by neverdem
May 04, 2004, 4:15 p.m.
We Know the Truth
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth released the following letter to John Kerry, signed by 189 fellow veterans of the Navy vessels featured so prominently in the senator's campaign ads. The group's organizers explain that the veterans who have signed to date represent the large majority of those who served with Lt. Kerry in Vietnam. Scores of others are expected to join up in the days ahead.
May 4, 2004
We write from our common heritage as veterans of duty aboard Swift Boats in the Vietnam War. Indeed, you should note that a substantial number of those men who served directly with you during your four month tour in Vietnam have signed this letter.
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.
We believe you continue this conduct today, albeit by changing from an anti-war to a "war hero" status. You now seek to clad yourself in the very medals that you disdainfully threw away in the early years of your political career. In the process, we believe you continue a deception as to your own conduct through such tactics as the disclosure of only carefully screened portions of your military records. Both then and now, we have concluded that you have deceived the public, and in the process have betrayed honorable men, to further your personal political goals.
Your conduct is such as to raise substantive concerns as to your honesty and your ability to serve, as you currently seek, as Commander-in-Chief of the military services.
It is vital that the American public have as much information as possible about candidates for President of the United States. In various ways, you have rightly called upon President Bush to be fully accountable and to provide full disclosure. In the same spirit, now that you are the presumptive nominee of your Party, we believe it is incumbent upon you to make your total military record open to the American people.
Specifically, we the undersigned formally request that you authorize the Department of the Navy to independently release your military records (through your execution of Standard Form 180), complete and unaltered, including your military medical records. Further, we call upon you to correct the misconceptions your campaign seeks to create as to your conduct while in Vietnam. Permit the American public the opportunity to assess your military performance upon the record, and not upon campaign rhetoric.
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 importantly, 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.
Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann, USN
Mr. Alvin A. Horne
Mr. Bill Lannom
Mr. John O'Neill
Mr. Wey Symmes
Mr. William W. Franke
If the Bush campaign doesn't make this organization, and these people, part of the campaign strategy, they will deserve to lose in November.
Gotta disagree with you there, FRiend. He was 27 years old, college educated, a commisioned Naval Officer. The 'just a kid' thing don't cut it. A man graduates from college or the Naval Academy, gets his commission, earns his wings, and is flying F-14's, driving ships and submarines, leading Sailors, etc. way before 27 years old. They aren't kids.
Never fear. This story is exploding across the Internet as I type. I certainly hope that some of the people reading it on the Web, or in their personal emails, will respond to its points in the Letters to the Editor columns of their local newspapers. The story MUST get out.
If this is serious, do you know when?
By RICHARD TOMKINS, UPI White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- Sen. John Kerry's accounts of his service in Vietnam and his statements that he witnessed atrocities were attacked as fabrications and political opportunism Tuesday by a group of Vietnam veterans who served with him personally or in the units affiliated with him during his short tour of duty in Southeast Asia.
The veterans, including some of Kerry's former commanders and shipmates, have formed an organization called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" and called on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to authorize release of all his service records, including medical records.
"We feel it is very, very import that the American people get the actual truth about that three or four months Kerry served in Vietnam since he has made it a center piece of his biography," said John O'Neill, who took charge of Kerry's boat and crew after Kerry left Vietnam. "Second, we resent very deeply the false war crimes charges he made coming back from Vietnam. ... We think that those have cast aspersion on those living and dead.
"We think he knew he was lying when he made them. We think they are unsupportable. We intend to bring the truth about that to the American people. Third, we believe that based on our experience with him, he is totally unfit to be commander in chief."
Kerry, who commanded a river patrol boat, served about 4 months of a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam and won the Silver Star and Bronze Star. He requested and received reassignment to the United States after receiving three Purple Hearts for combat wounds, allowed under Navy regulations. The circumstances and merit of one of those awards has come into question in the campaign against President George W. Bush, leading to acrimonious mudslinging and a resurrection of the turmoil the conflict inflicted on American society.
Following his return and then discharge from the Navy, Kerry became a prominent anti-war activist and testified before Congress that he had witnessed U.S. forces committing atrocities and war crimes.
"I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces," said retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, chairman of the organization. "This is not a political issue. It is a matter of honesty."
Hoffman said Kerry had recently telephoned him and spent 45 minutes attempting to convince Hoffman of not proceeding with the formation of the organization, which Democrats Tuesday attacked as a shill for Bush.
Hoffmann, who debated Kerry on television in 1971 over Vietnam allegations, denied any ties to Bush or the Republican Party. The Swift boat veterans held differing political and social views, he said. "There is only one issue we all agree on, and that is the issue of John Kerry."
In a letter to Kerry signed by more than 200 Swift boats veterans, they wrote, "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.
"We believe you continue this conduct today, albeit by changing from an anti-war to a 'war hero' status," the letter said.
The veterans Tuesday were vociferous in denying they had seen or had participated in wartime atrocities and questioned that if Kerry had indeed observed any, why he didn't report it as he was required to do.
One veteran, noting the allegations were again made in a book on Kerry's war experiences, choked back tears as he related how his wife and daughter had read about the alleged war crimes Kerry spoke about in Douglas Brinkley's "Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War" and asked him if he had committed them.
Spokesmen for the Kerry campaign were not immediately available for comment Tuesday, but the Democratic National Committee put out a statement attacking the public relations company used by the group as having Republic Party connections. The veterans made no comment on the allegations.
Kerry has admitted a poor choice of words in his testimony before Congress in 1971 but says he served with honor in the war.
May 04, 2004, 4:26 p.m.
Some critics of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry have questioned the circumstances surrounding the first of three Purple Hearts Kerry won in Vietnam. Those critics, among them some of Kerry's fellow veterans, have suggested that a wound suffered by Kerry in December 1968 may have made him technically eligible for a Purple Heart but was not severe enough to warrant serious consideration, even for a decoration that was handed out by the thousands. Whatever the case, Kerry was awarded the Purple Heart, and, along with two others he won later, it allowed him to request to leave Vietnam before his tour of duty was finished.
Kerry was treated for the wound at a medical facility in Cam Ranh Bay. The doctor who treated Kerry, Louis Letson, is today a retired general practitioner in Alabama. Letson says he remembers his brief encounter with Kerry 35 years ago because "some of his crewmen related that Lt. Kerry had told them that he would be the next JFK from Massachusetts." Letson says that last year, as the Democratic campaign began to heat up, he told friends that he remembered treating one of the candidates many years ago. In response to their questions, Letson says, he wrote down his recollections of the time. (Letson says he has had no contacts with anyone from the Bush campaign or the Republican party.) What follows is Letson's memory, as he wrote it.
I have a very clear memory of an incident which occurred while I was the Medical Officer at Naval Support Facility, Cam Ranh Bay.
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