Skip to comments.John Kerry Does NOT Speak For Vietnam Veterans
Posted on 08/02/2004 5:29:48 PM PDT by USMCVIETVET
John Kerry Does Not Speak For Vietnam Veterans
By Bruce N. Kesler Aug 2, 2004
In April 1971, John Kerry and a small group of purported and real Vietnam veterans camped out in Washington to protest the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. They received extensive publicity to their vastly overblown charges of pervasive brutality and war crimes by U.S. forces. The antiwar Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Fulbright, featured Kerry at a televised hearing. This one-sided protest and publicity demoralized many citizens, and lastingly blackened the reputation and sacrifices of other Vietnam vets that made our reentry into peaceful civilian life unwelcome and harsh.
At the time, I had recently returned to civilian life after service with the Marine Corps in Vietnam. I was outraged and hurt by Kerrys grandstanding falsehoods. I wrote a long letter of protest about it to the then editor of the New York Times op-ed page, Harrison Salisbury (a respected journalist and historian, and an opponent of the war). Mr. Salisbury edited my letter and published it as a New York Times op-ed on May 13, 1971. In it, I wrote: the overwhelming majority of Vietnam veterans and Americans bitterly resent the charge from the left that they are all war criminals .It is not a crime to be American and young, but it is if one adds to that ignorant, foolish or irrational dialogue as citizens of a democratic government. The antiwar veterans are not ignorant of the facts; they merely use them to form an army of young people marching to their drums, exploiting issues, fears and people for their own ends. That is the crime.
I received supportive calls from many other Vietnam vets, saying lets do more to clear our reputations. One of the callers was a Vietnam veteran who had been a river boat commander at about the same time as John Kerry, John ONeill, who was to soon leave the Navy and who had been denied an opportunity by Senator Fulbright to rebut Kerry. Other Vietnam veterans represented hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans in student and local veterans clubs around the country. We formed the Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace. I borrowed money for airline tickets, some double-up rooms at the YMCA in Washington, rented a space at the National Press Club, sent out amateurish press conference invitations and sat in a phone booth at the Y for 24-hours begging newspaper and TV reporters to come to our meeting on June 1, 1971. Many did. We received national press for our rebuttal to Kerry and his gang. John ONeill effectively debated and rebutted Kerry on Dick Cavetts late night TV show.
Kerrys launching pad to a political career now has him contending for President. Kerry never recanted his slurs of 33-years ago. Instead, he asserts his military service makes him more qualified than President Bush to lead the nation in war. We, who proudly served must serve again, to demand honesty.
Kerry denies calling us war criminals. Kerry did, testifying before Congress in April 1971: Several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.
The publicity to Kerrys charges permanently scarred the reputation of those who served in Vietnam. Studies statistically rebut his claim: American atrocities in Vietnam did not differ from any other American war. Yes, bad things happen in war, which is why we hate war. But, Kerry did not stop with that, then or now. Kerry accused all Americans who served in Vietnam of being war criminals, led by war criminals, and Kerry continues that lie. The U.S. prosecuted the exception of My Lai perpetrators, and has done so when atrocities have come to light.
Kerrys fellow Vietnam Veterans Against the War, like the 150 he praised, refused to prove their claims attacking the honor of Vietnam veterans. Exhaustive studies exposed their stories as bogus, and many were imposters who had not served in Vietnam. Even Kerrys favorable biographer recently said: The chickens are coming home to roost, and unfortunately he is starting to backtrack.
Kerry testified in 1971, We are angry because we feel that we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country. In his testimony, Kerry boasted of meeting in Paris with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations at the peace talks, and that he supported their proposals. It seems Kerry was more useful to our enemies than used by the U.S. administration. Former POW Senator McCain complained in 1973 that Kerrys testimony was the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us. Senator McCain, a nice guy, has lately forgiven Kerry. What about other POWs, like Paul Galanti who last February said that Kerrys charges, repeated by his captors during his torture, jeopardize[d] those still in battle or in the hands of the enemy. Galanti went on to say, The Vietnam memorial has thousands of additional names due to John Kerry and others like him. Sydney Schanberg, exposer of Cambodias Killing Fields and critic of Bush, documents that in the early 90s Kerrys U.S. Senate special committee squelched evidence of POWs not released by the North Vietnamese.
In April 2001, Kerry wrote, We returned home to an America that was indifferent, even hostile. There were no parades, only nightmares. Yet, Kerry takes no responsibility for creating a negative atmosphere against Vietnam veterans. The truth of how Vietnam veterans felt emerged from a comprehensive 1980 survey by the Veterans Administration which reported 91% of those who had seen combat in Vietnam were glad they had served their country; 80% disagreed with the statement that the U.S. took advantage of me; and nearly 2/3rds would go to Vietnam again, even knowing the outcome of the war. The overwhelming majority of Vietnam veterans are proud of their service, not of Kerrys treachery and lies.
John Kerry served in Vietnam for several months as a Navy Lieutenant, over 35-years ago. After three band-aid Purple Hearts (veritable scratches), he opted to leave Vietnam. That brief service, and his record since, hardly qualifies him as a hero or military expert qualified to run a world-wide war against terrorists. Indeed, his perfidity then, his refusal to apologize or recant since, and his many other areas of flip-flops and evasions, hardly qualifies him to lead the world or be depended upon to be steadfast in protecting Americans, our interest in a terror-free world, or American soldiers.
About the author: Bruce Kesler volunteered for the Marine Corps after graduating college in 1968, served as an enlisted man and was honorably discharged after serving in Vietnam. Since, Kesler has been a financial executive for Fortune 100 companies, and currently owns an employee benefits firm.
I wish he would take his Broads advice and "shove it!"
This is Kerry's unforgivable sin to all of us Vietnam Veterans. May he rot in Hell for this.
Thank you for your service to our country.
Thank you for your service to our country.
Thank you very much Lisa. It was very much appreciated.
Thank you for your service to your country.
As my husband and I watched Kerry speak at the convention (with lots of grit), Kerry lauded his 'welcome home.' Then my husband had to leave the room and parted with "Yeah, and you and the buddies you hung out with gave me MY welcome home." It breaks my heart to realize the unforgivable treatment US soldiers suffered not only then, but now. I am a firm believer that a soldier's action to fight for his/her country -- whether in Iraq, Vietnam, or any other 'conflict' -- is no less heroic than those great soldiers in WW2. The day-to-day in Vietnam did not have a great plan, but the bigger picture of you fighting for others to know liberty and justice are most noble.
You are more than welcome.
My older brother served in the AF, he joined in 1969, went to basic training in San Antonio (Lackland AFB), spent a few months in Denver (Laughlin AFB) and finished his tour in Minot, ND.
I guess if there's one good thing about this Kerry fiasco, it's that you and other Vietnam Veterans are finally getting some of the appreciation that you so deserved at the time for being in harms way for our country. I only wish I could do or say more.
My goal is to fight the good fight, and donate all my available time to make sure John Kerry is defeated in November.
Former POW Senator McCain complained in 1973 that Kerrys testimony was the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us. Senator McCain, a nice guy, has lately forgiven Kerry.
It is beyond me how McCain can forgive him for that.
My husband stands with you. He will NEVER forget the welcome he got when he came home and will never forget John Kerry.
Please also accept my admiration and thanks for your service to the nation. God bless you!
I salute those who served. My class was the last one drafted and I missed service by a matter of months. I am glad to see more Viet Nam vets speaking up before it is too late. The guy is the biggest fraud I have ever seen. He wouldn't know how to defend this country if he really needed too. I keep asking..."What has he done in the Senate to warrant a promtion?" How could this man get three purple hearts in 4 months when it sounds as if they were scratches or "self promoted" wounds.
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