Skip to comments.Soldier with Kerry in '68 says he earned first medal
Posted on 08/21/2004 6:27:02 AM PDT by John Jorsett
Trotwood, Ohio - An Ohio factory worker who was with John Kerry on a dangerous night mission 36 years ago in Vietnam said he has no doubt Kerry was grazed in a firefight and deserves his first Purple Heart for a combat injury.
"We were on about a 14-foot boat with an outboard motor. We started out, taking a guess, around 10 p.m. We were sup posed to sneak up and check sampans," said Pat Runyon, a 58-year-old grandfather from Eaton, a small southwestern Ohio town near the Indiana border.
Runyon, an enlisted man who served on Swift boats in Vietnam, was not a regular member of Kerry's crew.
He said in an interview Sunday he somehow was chosen - "Let me tell you, I didn't volunteer" - to go out on the Dec. 2, 1968, mission, called a "skim op" in Navy slang.
The small, flat-bottomed boat - Runyon called it a "skimmer" - carried three men - Kerry in command, Bill Zaledonis on a machine gun and Runyon operating the outboard motor.
Once in place on the river, the three U.S. sailors paddled and drifted. Covered by the darkness, they hid to stop sampans, small vessels common in Southeast Asia. Guerillas used the sampans to smuggle weapons in the Mekong River Delta.
Runyon said Kerry was wounded after one vessel tried to avoid an inspection.
"Lt. Kerry said, 'I'm going to pop a flare, and when I do, I want that engine started,' " Runyon said. But the outboard would not crank. Meanwhile, the sampan's crew steered it to the riverbank, and people started running on the shore. Runyon said shooting broke out.
Somehow, Kerry's weapon stopped firing. Runyon thinks he ran out of ammunition. He said Kerry bent down to pick up another gun and got hit in the arm.
"It wasn't a serious wound," Runyon said, and Kerry was able to start shooting again. When the firefight was over, Runyon said Kerry told him all he felt was a "burning sensation."
Runyon said he remembers the incident clearly because it was the first time he had been in combat. "I hadn't seen any kind of action or anything," he said.
He said Kerry, Zaledonis and himself were the only men aboard. When he got the motor started, they took off. He said the outboard was in bad condition and did not have a handle to steer with. "I had to wrap my arms around it, like hugging it, to turn it," he recalled.
Runyon now works the second shift at a plant that makes auto parts in Eaton. He works in the shipping department.
He is supporting Democratic nominee Kerry for president, but said he is not a Democrat and has never been active in politics. He said he and Kerry met for the first time since that night in 1968 at a rally in Dayton this year.
Runyon said he introduced himself to the Massachusetts senator and Kerry did not remember him. "When I talked to him about that night, he remembered the incident but not my name. He just eased up once he knew I was who I said I was."
Runyon was at a Democratic picnic Sunday in Trotwood, a Dayton suburb, where he told the small gathering of party activists that an anti-Kerry veterans group was smearing the senator with false charges. "It's very poor to try and discredit him after  years," Runyon said. "That's very poor."
Runyon said that firefight with Kerry is his brush with fame.
"I saw a nice, quiet guy who knew he was in command and didn't flaunt it. He could make a decision, and he made the right one because we got out of there alive. That's all I can tell you."
All Kerry has to do is sign the SF-180 and let the Medical Records speak for the injury.
LOL! Why does he flaunt it to this day?
Daschle would say "The timing of this is very curious."
Amazing. They can't even mention that this entire episode is in dispute by the Commander of the Swift Boats as well Schachte, who says he was there (and letter went on to become Judge Advocate General of the Navy)? Amazing.
Darn it! You beat me to it!
How about that!? Kerry is due for a fourth Purple Heart he didn't even put in for!!!! </Knee_Padder_mode>
Kerry's band o' brothers can't keep their stories straight.
That's what I was wondering about too. The records ought to be easily checked. The application for the Purple Heart contains the circumstances under which the applicant was wounded. The fact that this story was published on Aug 16th and hasn't been noted elsewhere makes me suspect that it doesn't hold up under scrutiny, or Kerry'd be shouting it from the rooftops about now.
Given the source, the SBVFT need to respond to this. Runyon is listed on page 35 of Unfit for Command. Runyon's testimony runs counter to what ADM Schachte says. He was the OIC on board the skimmer.
Hugh Hewitt has taken to calling him Senator Sybil. Very apt, I think.
Could you please state the source for that. It was at night according to all reports I have ever read.
Yes, he was "in command" of the swiftboat he was in.
But Kerry's diary disputes this story. I suspect another paid supporter.
Wouldn't this be seared in his memory?
The 58 year-old grandfather quoted in the story apparently has Alzheimer's and has no clue what the heck he is talking about. Kerry has NEVER claimed that he earned his 1st PH on a night exercise in a 14 foot boat. He has (so far, at least) consistently maintained that he was on his Swift Boat and fired a grenade at rocks on the opposing shore, allegedly returning fire at enemy troops (a story that has never been confirmed by anyone else who was there).
The wound was so minor, the Dr. who treated him THE NEXT DAY only felt it needed nothing more than a band-aid and a lollypop. Even the treating physician recognized the piece of shrapnel as coming from an American grenade, NOT an enemy weapon.
However, if Kerry like this story better, he could always change his story - especially since he won't release his records which he knows don't support his lies.
Isn't this the wound that Kerry inflicted on himself by shooting a grenade against a rock on shore?
Was he contemplating the atrocities he was about to commit?
According to this article:
The Dec. 2nd incident took place on board a smaller craft called a Boston Whaler. Remember, the only thing the Kerry campaign claims they could find about the first Purple Heart was a medical treatment sheet which described him being treated on Dec. 3rd with Bacitracin and a bandaid.
Kerry's campaign claims no after action report could be found on this incident. How convenient. But it's the actual journal entry of having not yet been under any enemy fire dated Dec. 11th that proves Kerry more than likely wounded himself with his own actions.
You are wrong. Kerry claimed and received a PH for the actions that night onboard the Boston Whaler or skimmer. The date on his PH is December 2, 1968 for wounds received in action. The Swift Boat towed the skimmer into the area and towed it back after the training mission was over. Kerry's acount is contained in Tour of Duty and quoted in Unfit for Command pp 31-34.
No. IF supporting documentation were required for the award, and witness statements were part of that, then that is were other names might be identified.
Ive been wondering why the boston whaler was towed back after this "training mission"
There are plenty of inconsistencies about the first PH. Besides the fact there was no casualty report and no after action report, no one knows who approved the first PH. It was approved on February 28, 1969 almost three months later and after Kerry had been transferred from Coastal Division 14 to Coastal Division 11. It is no wonder that Kerry doesn't want to release his records.
It has to do with range and speed and how far the base was from the operating area.
It was a dark and stormy night, there I was out of bullets, just my old Boy Scout pocketknife....
Finish this story after I get back with another couple of six packs.
He obviously left off this part:
"At which time Kerry's campaign briefed me on the story I was to tell the press and handed me the payoff check".
Too bad that on Dec. 11, 1968, he wrote in his diary that "A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky."
The fact that this has been written up in the far-left counterpunch.org website (in an article amusingly titled "Hail, the Conquering War Criminal Comes") only makes the irony even sweeter.
Kerry couldn' t take no for an answer on the first Purple Heart. He waited until the timing was right to pursue it until he finally got it. Kerry never could follow orders or procedures. He was arrogant and rash. His behavior reminds me of the convicts I used to have to deal with. They'd ask you for something and you'd tell them "NO!" But then they'd continue asking other supervisors for it until they found one weak enough to give in to them. That's the same type of manipulation that kids play between their parents.
The First PH was finally issued on February 20, 1969. The second PH incident occurred on February 20, 1969 and the third on March 13, 1969. So in essence, Kerry actually got his 3 Purple Hearts within a 20 day period. Amazing huh? Even Audie Murphy couldn't claim that.
I am not familiar with that AAR. I assume you are talking about an official report. Do you know where I can find it?
...a night that is seared, seared in my mind and one that will live in infamy.
Thats a tough call....when you are in combat or any emergency life threatening situation with someone...and you feel they saved your life...
Its difficult for you to condemn the person who you feel saved your life or join in condemnation of that person regardless of what others 'say' he did...
Let the man have his say and his opinon of Kerry he earned it....
There is a preponderance of evidence and credible wittnesses to hoist Kerry on his own petard...
Kerry's problem is with the truth...his lying on his reports...falsifiying US Navy documents...
Lying to congress....betraying the POWs and their familes....consorting with the enemy...
Like father like son...
Slight correction. The first PH was issued on February 28 according to the letter from COMNAVSUPPACT Saigon
You're right, slight typo there. I was going to type 28th and must have had 20th on my brain while I was doing it. I can only claim senility.
Senility sets in again. I wanted to also ask: when you look at the fact that the 3 Purple Hearts were received within a 20 day period, and that Kerry had actually been denied the first Purple Heart, but pursued it after he left the Division, why aren't more questions being raised about this timeline? I'm wondering if the award of these 3 PH's in such a short timespan isn't worth mention in the Guiness World Records book.
I might add that the so called injuries justifying the three PHs occurred on December 2 (approved Feb 28), Feb 20 (approved March 5), and March 13 (approved April 17). What is interesting that Kerry requested to leave on March 17 and left Vietnam on March 26 before the third award was even approved on April 17.
Boy, he couldn't wait to get his a$$ out of 'Nam could he? Chicken $hit that he is.
Re the twenty days: I think you are mixing up the dates when the "injuries" occurred with the dates awarded. Although the first PH was approved on Feb 28, the PH is for injuries occurred on Dec 2.
Exactly right. O'Neill makes that point. Kerry told Brinkley that it was an agonizing decision for him to decide to leave his shipmates behind and after two weeks, he decided to leave because he could be more effective in stopping the war being in the US. The only problem is that Kerry was "wounded" on March 13 and a request was sent to BUPERS on March 17 for him to be reassigned based on 3 PHs. Kerry must have put his request to leave almost immediately to have the command in Saigon request his transfer just four days later. The guy is a fraud and maybe nuts.
I had suspected it was because it was just a goofy training mission
OK. Thanks. Normally, an AAR is only filed after enemy action or a major event.