Skip to comments.Kerry vet aide's extremist history: Joe Bangert lived in Hanoi, revered Ho Chi Minh
Posted on 09/06/2004 11:32:00 PM PDT by JohnHuang2
WASHINGTON A John Kerry veterans' organizer lived in Hanoi for five years in the 1990s, testified that American troops skinned and crucified Vietnamese in the 1960s and joined the presidential candidate at an infamous 1971 meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War executive committee in which the assassination of U.S. senators was debated, Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin reports.
Joe Bangert, a Massachusetts English teacher and longtime friend of the junior senator, has campaigned with Kerry in several states and serves the campaign as a veterans' organizer.
At the Winter Soldier Investigation, sponsored by Jane Fonda and the VVAW in 1971, Bangert told some of the most hair-raising stories, reveals a report in the latest issue of the premium, online intelligence newsletter published by WorldNetDaily.
The former Marine who claims to have served with the Marine Observation Squadron with the First Marine Air Wing in 1968 said the atrocities he witnessed began on his first day in country.
"I was picked up by a truckload of grunt Marines with two company grade officers first lieutenants," he told the Winter Soldier hearing in Detroit. "We were about five miles down the road, where there were some Vietnamese children at the gateway of the village and they gave the old finger gesture at us. It was understandable that they picked this up from GIs there. They stopped the trucks they didn't stop the truck, they slowed down a little bit, and it was just like response, the guys got up, including the lieutenants, and just blew all the kids away. There were about five or six kids blown away, and then the truck just continued down the hill."
He also testified about observing South Vietnamese troops under U.S. command torture a woman prisoner by shooting her repeatedly, then disemboweling her and skinning her. He also claimed Vietnamese suspects and civilians were crucified under U.S. command.
Bangert, who lived in Hanoi for about five years in the 1990s and still travels to the Communist totalitarian capital, in 2001 called Jane Fonda a "heroine" for her controversial visits to North Vietnam during the war, according to G2 Bulletin.
In fact, Bangert, like Kerry, traveled to Paris to meet with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations. Bangert recalled the highlight for him was getting to sing "The Ballad of Ho Chi Minh" for the assembled guests. He boasts of having performed the ballad more than a thousand times in public. Bangert wore a shirt for the occasion emblazoned with the Viet Cong flag.
"She was a heroine to visit Vietnam under B-52 bombardment in July 1972, and this needs to be said aloud," he wrote about Fonda in the VVAW publication.
In 1997, Bangert was one of three former VVAW members to pay tribute in Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh on his birthday. Bangert joined Chuck Searcy and Eric Herter May 19 which was also the 30th anniversary of the founding of the VVAW.
Bangert worked for Kerry throughout the primary season in New Hampshire, Missouri and South Carolina.
When Kerry gave his victory speech in New Hampshire on the night of the primary, Bangert stood on stage between the presidential candidate and former New Hampshire Governor Jean Shaheen.
And that should be no surprise given Bangert has worked for Kerry in most if not all of his campaigns, including his first run for the Senate going back to 1984.
Kerry first adamantly denied attending a November 1971 VVAW executive committee meeting in Kansas City at which the assassination of several U.S. senators was debated. Later, when the Kansas City Star tracked down 32-year-old FBI records affirming Kerry's attendance, his campaign explained that he "had no personal recollection" of the meeting. Bangert was there, too.
"We were rebelling," he explained. "We were decompressing from our time in Vietnam. We were incapable of doing violence."
Ooooooooooh, Joe Bangert sounds like Kerry's
equally evil twin brother. THIS is the first
I have heard of him.
PING = y'all know of this guy?
Already posted! I wouldn't care, but it's already got a decent thread going. And believe it or not, I'm a distant relation of Bangert by marriage!
THe Rats are trying to pull the wool over people's eyes by presenting Kerry as a "war hero." A Commie doesn't change his color. He's still surrounding himself with his band of Red Brothers.
Link me to the thread, please.
Dear Sister Peggy,
Greetings from Cape Cod! My name is Joe Bangert, and I eyed your name on the email list from an email I received today from a mutual friend- Barbara Dane- and was motivated to introduce myself to you and tell you- apart from my love of both you and your brother's musical and artistic contributions to at least three generations of my family- how gratified I am to share with you my deep admiration of Ewan's 'Ballad of Ho Chi Minh'.
Sure I learned it by heart- after returning home from my stint as a door gunner on a Marine helicopter in Quang Tri, Viet Nam circa 1969. Six months later I upped and joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), and later met Barbara in Paris at the World Assembly for the Peace and Independence of the Indochinese Peoples at Versailles. We had a great banquet with the diplomatic delegations of both the DRVN and the PRGSVN and later some music began- Barbara sang the 'Song of the Coats' and the only song the young boisterous delegation from the USA could all agree on singing together by heart when asked to sing 'an American worker's song' was "Mercedes Benz" by Janis Joplin.
Barbara then asked me to join her on the stage- for I had boldly decided to wear a close fitting shirt which had emblazened on the front of it- the flag of the National Liberation Front of south Viet Nam.
It was then that I belted out both "We Will Liberate the South" (Giai Phong Mien Nam) the national anthem of the NLF in Vietnamese- for I am a linguist- and ended that portion of the show with the Ballad of Uncle Ho. It was a show stopper to say these least-
Since then I have sang Ewan's delightful song over one thousand times indeed- and when I was working back in Viet Nam, in Ha Noi from 1992-1997 I had the occasion to sing it and teach it to virtually thousands upon thousands of younger Vietnamese boys and girls-
I always give Ewan the credit for penning it. I just wanted you to know that this song rocks even in 2002~!
Songs of Protest
By Bill Homans
It was my old VVAW brother Joe Bangert, who, with me, was to provide the VVAW presence at the big gig. Joe is cutting-edge hardcore; he spent five years in the 1990s living with the Vietnamese in Hanoi. That's right, y'all, the Vietnamese. Not the "North" or "South" Vietnamese; the Vietnamese. You remember that old expression from the 'Nam, "It don't mean nothin'"? Well, thirty-some years later, it does mean something. That, at least, we can say we accomplished, brothers: Vietnam is one country again. Right on.
Bill Homans, AKA Watermelon Slim, was Massachusetts state coordinator for VVAW in 1971-74. His 1973 album, "Merry Airbrakes," was the only album ever to be released by a Vietnam veteran during the war. Homans' latest CD is "Big Shoes to Fill"; samples and more information can be found at www.friedokrajones.com.
Photo of The Vietnam Songbook and more...
GOING BACK--Part 5
copyright © 1994 by Valerie Schumacher, all rights reserved
Joe Bangert can't stay away from Vietnam either. He's been back to Vietnam more often than Danny, ten times in nine years. He has a wife and kids back home in New England. I wonder when the time will come when he won't go home at all.
"From the ice paddies to the rice paddies," he joked.
"When were you there?" I asked.
There? I was sitting in Hanoi when I asked him that question. Vietnam was here, not there. There was the war. Here was Vietnam.
Joe grew to like the Vietnamese, really like them. That's one reason why he keeps returning today. In an odd twist of fate, or perhaps no twist at all, Joe now works in aviation in Vietnam, the same work he did during the war for the American military. He got back to Vietnam with the first group ever issued tourist visas and was caught by Geoffrey Clifford's camera lens hugging the enemy he never felt was his enemy. Back at home, I came face to face with Joe once again while flipping through Clifford's book on photographs on Vietnam. I'd had the book for ages, long before I ever considered going to Vietnam, long before I ever knew Clifford or Bangert, or knew they were friends. Vietnam makes a small world grow smaller.
What a freakin liar. Why didn't anyone call him on that at the time? You don't even have to conduct an investigation to know that was a complete and utter lie. This whole thing with Kerry and the VVAW gets worse every day.
Mr. Kerry's comrades of the anti-war veterans movement. Joe Bangert says that without their opposition, the war would have been longer and there would be more names of dead soldiers inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington.
"The efforts to shorten the war was not a bad thing, is not a traitorous thing," said Mr. Bangert. "In fact, anyone who goes to the Vietnam veterans memorial, if they look at the panels on the wall at the Vietnam veterans memorial, they have the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to thank for the number of panels that are not extended out further into that mall."
Kerry is a Vietnam Veteran and we Vietnam Vets can never really be welcomed home 'back in the world' until one of our own calls the White House home. Its time to give Bush his marching orders- "to the rear- march!"- Back to Crawford,TX. And let 44- JFK- restore America to her Camelothian BEST! Posted by Joe Bangert at March 15, 2004 02:58 PM
Joe Bangert of Brewster can be seen directly behind Jean Shaheen in this photo from CNN of the Kerry camp celebrating John Kerry's victory in the New Hampshire primary. Bangert, like Kerry a Vietnam veteran, was in New Hampshire for five days working on Kerry's campaign.
Veterans for Peace
Veterans Working Together Against War and Violence for Peace and Justice
About Face: Soldiers, Refugees and Other Victims Of WarThis program documents the effects of war on those who fight them, those who escape them, and those who are its victims. Militarism is viewed, not with sensationalist awe, but from the perspective of human beings who are personally affected. Refugees talk about their attempts to escape the violence of US supported governments in Central America, and the efforts of Vietnam Vets to deal with the still painful memories of the war and the difficulty of their return home are portrayed in several moving works. (58:00)
written and posted by Joe Bangert
It seems that some of Kerry's "band of brothers" were protesting in Central Park against President Bush during the Republican convention!
Iraqi Vets Against the War Close Ranks with Vietnam Vets Against the War (Again)
During Sunday's monster protest against Bush and his stinking war it was Veterans who lead the march. During the march a clandestine picnic was hastily arranged among the veterans. The picnic was held in Central Park at Summit Rock. An illegal rally spontaneously took place (in accordance with the US Bill of Rights) and the torch was passed from the Vietnam generation to the Iraqi War generation who now comprise the Iraqi Veterans Against the War.
Hide di hide di hide di ho!
George W. Bush has got to go!
Sound off! One Two
Sound off! Three Four
Bring it in down
One two three four George Bush out the door!
New York City- August 30th
Another vet from Massachusetts, Joe Bangert stood up. He wore a shirt with the logo of the same icon for the fallen as the Iraqi Vets had adopted- except Bangert's shirt read: HOI CUU CHIEN BINH MY PHAN DOI CHIEN TRANH TAI VIETNAM- Vietnamese for Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Bangert, a former machine door gunner on helicopters in Vietnam called all the troops to LISTEN UP!
Although speeches had been discouraged Bangert plowed ahead and suggested that on this Summit in Central Park that 'the time has come for those of us who have fought the good fight to pass the torch to you young Iraqi veterans'. He explained that for those former members of VVAW that only they could sympathize with the isolation that the Iraqi vets returning home from the bloody scenes in Najaf and Baghdad have. No one to understand the specifics of the horror they had just witnessed and experienced. Bangert even brazenly said 'when we Vietnam Vets came home America's greatest generation turned their backs on us.'
This is kind of like getting endorsed by the KKK.
Joe Bangert has been in the shadows too long.
Sunlight toasts him, doesn't it?
From: Veterans for Change in 2004 outthedoorin2004@s
Date: Wed Sep 1, 2004 9:10 pm
Subject: 'Purple Heart' Band-Aids a Mockery of Service
Dick Bell, John Hurley, Tom Keefe, Burns Strider (INFO):
Joe Bangert passed this to me. He must have got it as an email alert being a member of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), but here's the link to the usnewswire story on YAHOO NEWS.
'Purple Heart' Band-Aids a Mockery of Service; Statement from Thomas H. Corey, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America
Tue Aug 31, 6:52 PM ET
To: National Desk
Contact: Mokie Porter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, 301-585-4000 ext. 146 or 301-996-0901
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a statement by Vietnam Veterans of America National President Thomas H. Corey:
Vietnam Veterans of America has received reports of delegates at the Republican National Convention disseminating and wearing "Purple Heart" band-aids in mockery of one of nation's most distinctive honors, the Purple Heart medal.
The Purple Heart is one of the oldest military awards, first introduced in 1782 by Gen. George Washington to honor the service and sacrifice of the common soldier and recognize the spirit of volunteerism and selfless dedication. It was reinstated in 1932. The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces who are wounded by the enemy.
The spirit of the award recognizes the personal sacrifice of our troops without regard to the severity or nature of the wound. It is the wounding itself that merits the honor. To demean the decoration and the sacrifice it symbolizes demeans all veterans and the patriots who honor them.
With our nation's sons and daughters at war to protect global freedom, demeaning military service in this way is especially hurtful. Vietnam Veterans of America urges all Americans to decry this type of outrageous, disrespectful, and infantile behavior.
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) endorsed Bill Clinton for President both times he ran.
Eradicate communists and muhammadans against America, in any order...
When Vietnam veteran Joe Bangert took the stage, he announced he'd been waiting to perform the "Ballad of Ho Chi Minh" for 30 years. He gave an acappella reading of Ewan MacColl's ode to the president of North Vietnam, and everyone joined in on the familiar refrain. As they marched down the Ho Chi Minh trail, soldiers sang a tune less familiar to western audiences, "Giai Phong Mien Nam." Bangert, who lived in Vietman for several years in the '90s, sang the song in its original Vietnamese.
Kerry's Winter Soldiers
The Official John Kerry Blog
Swift Boat Vets Evoke Nixon's Ghost
'Swift Boat Vets' evoke Nixon's ghost
Cape Cod Times
August 25, 2004
My View: reader commentary
By JOE BANGERT
The first weekend of the month marked both the 40th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the 30th anniversary of the disgraceful resignation of a very slippery GOP president named Nixon. And now Nixon's ghost appears in the current smear job by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against my good friend, longtime comrade and fellow Vietnam War veteran, John Kerry.
This group is deflecting criticism of George Bush's bellicose presidency by lies, lies and more damnable lies. Unleashed by Karl Rove and company, this attack ship of fools is having its third cruise around the truth in a futile attempt to besmirch Kerry's military service record. These GOP attack dogs now need to be muzzled by the truth.
Some of these attackers are veterans of the black propaganda used against such prior targets as Sen. John McCain, whom they called "The Manchurian Candidate" in 2000.
Then in 2002 they turned their sights on Sen. Max Cleland, a triple-amputee veteran of the Vietnam War whose patriotism they attacked - and got away with it.
Sen. McCain called these attacks on Kerry "dishonest and dishonorable" and called on George Bush to condemn their ad. Regrettably, George Bush has refused to do so.
So who are these men who insist they are "not affiliated with any party"?
A report filed July 15 with the IRS shows initial funding for the group came from Houston home builder Bob R. Perry. Perry is a staunch GOP fund-raiser and donor of millions of dollars in Texas to the GOP, especially to the president's campaign as well as that of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Last year Perry gave $600,000 to 23 GOP candidates for the Texas Legislature, helping lift the GOP to its first takeover of the Texas House since Reconstruction. Perry gave $200,000 to the Swift Boat group.
The group has launched ads in key states, stating falsely that its members served with Kerry and "know him," and calling his combat valor into question. Lt. j.g. John Kerry served on three vessels, including two swift boats - PCF-94 and PCF-44. Each boat had a six-man crew - so the total universe of Kerry's real wartime comrades consisted of a band of a dozen brothers.
Tom Belodeau of Massachusetts, a close friend of John's, is now dead. All remaining members of the crews in No. 94 and No. 44 are onboard the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Not one of these Swift Boat Veterans for Truth actually served with Kerry at all!
Here is the Nixonian flashback, to 1971: John O'Neill, a Vietnam veteran and author of the soon-to-be-released book attacking Kerry's Vietnam service, did not serve on a swift boat at the same time as Kerry. Kerry was back home in the United States by the time O'Neill took command of his first unit.
But back in 1971, Richard Nixon needed to counter anti-war groups such as Vietnam Veterans Against the War, of which Kerry and I were members. He tasked Chuck Colson (of Watergate infamy) to form an attack group against Kerry, led by the young John O'Neill. Yes, this is an old, bitter fight.
The main round of Kerry v. O'Neill occurred in June 1971 on the "Dick Cavett Show." O'Neill spent most of his airtime attacking Kerry's patriotism for criticizing the Vietnam War, rather than discussing the issues of war and peace.
A newly released tape of Nixon's conversation with Kissinger, his national security adviser, reminded us that we had another corrupt GOP war president who sacrificed American lives by extending a war for the sake of his own campaign. Nixon said three months before the 1972 election: "South Vietnam probably can never even survive anyway. ... We also have to realize that winning an election is terribly important. It's terribly important this year."
So the war that John O'Neill defended on Cavett's show and that George W. Bush supported but chose not to serve on active duty comes down to not telling the truth to the American people. Nixon drew out the Vietnam War for political expediency. Thousands more died or were wounded by lies.
O'Neill was rewarded for his efforts by receiving a clerkship to Nixon's favorite Supreme Court justice, William Rehnquist, and became a law partner with Lezar Harold, a former speechwriter for Nixon.
So now we have President George W. Bush, who lied about how a perceived threat in Iraq would harm us. And now we have the media trumpeting the war, with thousands of young Americans wounded and almost a thousand dead - for political expediency. Just as in Vietnam, the war is being eclipsed by other stories and the news of its dead and wounded fall farther back in the newspaper pages.
We who have personally known John Kerry and all of his crew members stand up for our country and urge Democrats, independents and Republicans to dump Bush in November. Our best bet is to hire the vet. On the Great Seal of the United States, a bald eagle faces us. In one talon are clutched arrows and in the other, olive branches. This president just clutches arrows. But a President Kerry, who fought heroically in a war and then, like the great silent majority, spoke out for peace, will bring back the balance to our country. Semper Fidelis, John Kerry.
Joe Bangert of Brewster is a Veteran for Kerry.
(Published: August 25, 2004)
DING DONG THE LEECH IS DEAD... (munchkins go about singing)
Joe's Pub plays host on Saturday, March 1st, 2003 to a unique event celebrating the protest-song tradition through performances of repertoire drawn from the definitive sourcebook, The Vietnam Songbook. The evening will feature musical performances by artists who've experienced the '60's anti-War movement including legendary protest singer/blues singer Barbara Dane, and Tuli Kupferberg (Fugs), activist singer/songwriter Bev Grant, along with noted Vietnam Vet/musicians Watermelon Slim, Joe Bangert and younger musicians such as Thurston Moore, Jenni Muldaur, Barry Reynolds, Jim O'Rourke, Stephan Smith, Dean Wareham. David Licht, Lenny Kaye and Curtis Eller. They will all be rendering material drawn from The Vietnam Songbook and other examples of anti-war songs from that time. The performers involved are keenly aware and intend to highlight parallels between being "waist deep in the big muddy" (to quote a Pete Seeger song) of the war in Vietnam and the current beating of war drums. "Revolution is a continuous and dynamic process if it exists at all" said Bill Homans, aka Watermelon Slim, Vietnam Vet whose anti-war songs from 1973 will be featured at the show.
The Vietnam Songbook was compiled and originally published in 1969 (it's currently sadly out of print) by Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber. It was an incredible, comprehensive collection of more than 100 protest songs concerning the Vietnam War featuring songs that'd been written or performed by important artists such as Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Nina Simone, Ewan MaColl, Tuli Kupferberg, Barbara Dane, Richard Farina, Joe McDonald, Matt Jones, Tom Paxton, Thom Parrott, Peggy Seeger, as well as by American Vietnam Veterans, Vietnamese citizens and many others from around the world voicing vehement opposition to this War.
The musical program "Songs of Protest: The Vietnam Songbook" is being organized and produced by NYC musician/producer/promoters Don Fleming and Kim Rancourt. The event will remind the American public of the power of song to express dissent against particular national and international government policy and outrage over wartime atrocities and injustice. This presentation is also intended as a call to contemporary musical performers to take an active role in this important tradition. As part of the documentation of the show, Fleming and Rancourt are recording oral histories from Dane and several other performers and Vietnam veterans. These recordings are being done with the support of the Alan Lomax Archive will become part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institution to which Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber already had donated the catalogue of their record label, Paredon, and related archives in 1991.
"As far as I am concerned, the reason for doing this is directly tied to the imminent threat of a brand new war which promises to be far more devastating even than Vietnam" said Ms. Dane. "We need to seize this moment to call attention to the madness of American aggression anywhere on the globe. We owe it to some 2-4 million Southeast Asians and 60,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War. We also need to make the country aware of the few million guys, now in their 50s, whose lives were wrecked by the war. Look under any bridge or in any lighted doorway at night, near the steam vents in winter and the parks in summer, and you will find them."
Showtimes at 7:00 and 9:30
Tickets Available at the Box Office,
Joe's Pub at The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street (at Astor Place)
New York, New York
"God bless Cuba! May her people know that she had many many friends on this side of the Straits who long to walk down the streets and byways of Old Havana."
I forgot to post the link to the above...
Repulsive little toad,ain't he. :-(
ICKIE POOH........to revert to boarding school slang of the period.
'Scuse me while I step on your speech
I love how the media define themselves by always making news about 'the media'. Look Jack, John Kerry is 16/18 today my 20th wedding anniversary ;-). Winner spelt backwards is Renniw. JOHN KERRY WON WISCONSIN! #16
When it was verified that the plurality of votes went to our distinguished Senator JOHN KERRY he rose to accept victory. Edwards lost Wisconsin, but the man he still has nice hair. Dean lost big time in a state he earlier had said was gonna be his Waterloo. Howard's end is upon us. The screaming bunny has run out of money and popular support.
Kerry's victory unplugged the candidates who lost. The 'real deal' indeed, stay tuned.
Now we go national. Their are 50 stars on our national ensign and Kerry has won 16 hands down.
On to Super Tuesday.
Posted by Joe Bangert at February 18, 2004 12:18 PM
Repulsive isn't even a start for what I think of him and his "friend" John F'n Kerry.
My name is Joe Bangert Marine Corps for four years in 1967. I went to Vietnam in 1968. My unit in Vietnam was Marine Observation Squadron Six with the First Marine Air Wing and my testimony will cover the slaughter of civilians, the skinning of a Vietnamese woman the crucifixion of Vietnamese either suspects or civilians in Vietnam.
In Manchester the theme is called "Coming Full Circle". The circles here come in deep cycles, and not just by geography, but by history as well. Joe Bangert first met John Kerry in 1970 when he volunteered for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He was also at the Washington Mall with John in 1971.
"I worked on his campaign for Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, and for his Senate run in 1984. I think John Kerry is the absolute solution to the great quagmire our country finds itself in with George W. Bush." Joe says the veterans have a little joke here amongst themselves. "Some of us used to be members of VVAW--Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Now we're the VVAW--Vietnam Veterans Against "W"!"
These people cannot be allowed to get near the Oval office. Maybe Kerry should tell his little butt boy to stay off the internet with his opinions and threats.
The TRUTH about SLIME BOAT SAILORS for BUSH
If I served with these bums I would have had trouble deciding which way to point my M-16.
G-2 from San Francisco- Steve Noetzel is an old friend of mine and he has been busy. It aint over to the fat lady sings. Bushs phony Karl Rove fat lady is rehearsing now. FYI-
Vets for Kerry
Ye gods and little fishes........these people NEVER grew up! Heck,they were infantile whackos in 1970 and have regressed farther,after that.
Theres plenty of buzz about the TV hit piece on the war record of John Kerry but I can personally guarantee that YOU AINT PISSED .until youve actually SEEN it!
Today, CBS reporter Hank Plante (KPIX, Chanel 5 in the Bay Area), visited me in San Francisco, to show me the piece and get my reaction for the 6:30pm newscast.
Since the 60-second ad is scheduled to appear only in Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, youll probably never see it, so allow me to describe it. First, remember, it is lightning fast. In 60 seconds, the producers of the piece manage to get sound bites from some 13 different people with the STRONG inference that they served DIRECTLY with John Kerry in Vietnam.
The ad starts with a clip of John Edwards, during his speech in Boston, saying: If you want to know about the Leadership Ability and Patriotism of John Kerry all you have to do is spend Three Minutes with the men who served with him.
So far, so good. Then the narrator continues, Heres what THESE MEN think about John Kerry. The ultra-slick transition leaves no doubt that we are going to hear from the men who served DIRECTLY with John Kerry, on either or both of the Swift Boats he commanded.
But wait didnt we hear from every one of the men who served on Kerrys Swift Boats during the Convention? How many crewmen ARE THERE on a 50 foot Swift Boat? Good question. On the TWO separate SWIFT BOATS that Kerry Commanded, there were a total of ELEVEN crewmen. One man has died, but the REST of his crewmen .all TEN Survivors .stood tall behind John Kerry on the platform of the Boston Convention, and one by one proclaimed their unstinting praise and admiration for their Swiftboat Commander.
So who are these Other Guys? The ones that call themselves Swift Boat Veterans for Bush. Imposters? No. In a word shills. Fact is, not a SINGLE ONE of the 13 talking heads ..was EVER on a Swift Boat with John Kerry!
Lets expose these Shills for Bush, one at a time.
First we see AL FRENCH. He was NEVER a crewmate of John Kerrys. He simply states: He is lying about his record. What record? What Lying? It is a pathetic sound bite, and just silly, by itself, at face value. His Record is His Record. Kerry didnt write his record, and his Record was Exemplory. So why would he lie about it? If you wanted to damage him, you could say: His Record is Inaccurate, but that is not what we hear in the six words from Al French.
Next we see LOUIS LETSON, who says . I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart, because I treated him for that injury. Not true. According to Navy Sick Call Sheet, the man who treated the shrapnel wound on the upper arm of Lt. Kerry is J.C. Carreon. The record notes that Kerry pressed his hand on the upper arm wound, to stop the bleeding, and when he pulled it away, he held a piece of rocket shrapnel in his bloody hand. Actually a very lucky wound. Clean it, bind him up, save the shrapnel for a souvenir, and put him back into service. Give him the Purple Heart he damn well earned a bit later. Thats how it Went Down. Thats what the record states. As Verified by his ACTUAL CREWMATES.
So who is this LOUIS LETSON? and why is it that he never made his charge until last year when Kerry came to Prominence? Well, hes just one part of a Republican Smear Kerry group financed by a millionaire Houston Homebuilder named BOB PERRY, one of the founders of the Critical Veterans Group.
Next we hear from Retired Navy Commander GEORGE ELLIOTT who says (in the ad), John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam. He should know something about it. He was Kerrys Superior Officer in Vietnam. He gives NO specifics in his charge of Dishonesty. Again, it is a RECENT, and hollow claim. Why? Because back in 1969, when ELLIOTT wrote his EVALUATION into the Service Record of John Kerry, here is what he stated:
The fact that he chased an armed enemy down was an act of courage. And the whole outfit served with honor There was no question that it was above and beyond anything that we had seen down there The ELLIOTT Evaluation continued . In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action, Lt. Kerry was unsurpassed. He constantly reviewed tactics and lessons learned in river operations and applied his experience at every opportunity. On one occasion, while in tactical command of a three boat operation his units were taken under fire from ambush. Lt. Kerry rapidly assessed the situation and ordered his units to turn directly into the ambush. This decision resulted in routing the attackers with several KIA. Lt. Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group. His bearing and appearance are above reproach. During the period of this report Lt. Kerry has been awarded the Silver Star medal, the Bronze Star medal, the Purple Heart medal (2nd and 3rd awards). [U.S. Navy, Officer Fitness Report signed by George Elliott; 18, Dec 1969]
That, I contend, is High Praise coming from a man who now has changed his tune to play to the beat of the Bush Campaign Drum! There is simply no explanation by Commander Elliott, of how, exactly, John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam. We presume you WERE honest Nr. Elliott, when you wrote that Evaluation, (back in 69), before you were bough off by the Bush Campaign Zealots.
Next we hear a few quick words from Swiftboat Veteran for Bush VAN ODELL, who says: ..John Kerry Lied to get his Bronze Star. I know. I was there. I saw what happened.
This is perhaps, the Unkindest Cut of all. Mr. ODell was NOT a crewmate of John Kerrys. The events of March 13, 1969 that eventually let to the award of a Bronze Star (with a V for Valor) are best recounted by the words of the man whose life Kerry saved on that day .James Rassmann. The 21 year old Green Beret Lieutenant was a passenger in the convoy of five Swiftboats, led by 25 year old Lt. John Kerrys in PCF-94. As the convoy moved downriver, they ran into an ambush.
The OFFICIAL NAVY After Action Report for that date, recount the details of the subject Convoy; including Time, Boat Identifications, Personnel, Combat Action; even Maps. The report states that the boats involved Received HEAVY A/W (automatic weapons) AND S/A (small arms) FROM BOTH BANKS of the river.
Given the fact that the Swiftboats are light and fast (because they carry no protective armor), it is not surprising that Kerry (and others) were hit by enemy fire during the ambush. The Official Report specific to Kerrys injury from this event (from the Naval Historical Center in Washington DC), reads:
KERRY, JOHN F., USN - WOUNDED IN ACTION 13 March 1969 vicinity of Song Bay Hap,
South Vietnam. Received shrapnel wounds in the left buttocks and contusions on the right forearm
when a mine detonated close to PCF-94 while engaged in operations on river. Injury is RESULT
OF HOSTILE ACTION.
According to Lt. Rassmann the boats had already lost one man earlier that day, and were now hell-bent on the run as the ambush continued. As they sped down the river, one boat was blown out of the water, and then another. An explosion wounded Kerry in the arm and threw Rassmann into the river. Rassmann dove to the bottom to avoid being run over by the other boats. When he surfaced, he saw the convoy had gone ahead. Viet Cong snipers fired at him, and Rassmann submerged over and over to avoid being hit. The bullets came from both banks, and Rassmann had nowhere to go. He began thinking his time had come, but the fifth time he came up, he saw the convoy had turned around. Kerry had ordered the boats back to pick up the man overboard. Kerry's boat, under heavy fire, sidled up to the struggling soldier. Rassmann tried to scramble up a cargo net at the bow but was too exhausted to make it all the way. He clung to the net as bullets whizzed past. Next thing I knew, John came out in the middle of all this, Rassmann says. I couldn't believe it. He was going to get killed. He ran to the edge, reached over with his good arm [Kerry had been wounded in his right arm] and pulled me over the lip. Rassmann later recommended Kerry for the Silver Star, and was upset when the Army instead awarded Kerry a lesser Bronze Star with a V for valor. [Los Angeles Times, 3/13/04].
Did you get that last part? After it was all over, the Green Beret Lt. Whose life Kerry saved .had recommended Kerry for a SILVER STAR even HIGHER than the Bronze that Kerry was eventually awarded!
So this begs the question if Accuser VAN ODELL was not even on Kerrys boat where, exactly was he and why is he now claiming that Kerry didnt deserve a medal for his heroic action. Hell, they ought to interview the Viet Cong Gunners on the shore to get the real story! Ill bet THEY would award a Silver Star to the gritty American Lieutenant who defied their fire!
But the AD continues on to the next Sound Bite. Its from ADRIAN LONSDALE, who states: .He lacks the capacity to lead. When was Mr. Lonsdale bought off??? Apparently some time AFTER October of 96. Why? Because he was a strong SUPPORTER of John Kerry until that time. In a Kerry for SENATE Press conference, on 10/27/96, Lonsdale stated: As far as I was concerned, the war was won over there in that part for that period. And it was mainly won because of the bravado and the courage of the young officers that ran the boats, the SWIFT boats and the Coast Guard cutters and Senator Kerry was no exception. [Kerry for Senate Press Conference, 10/27/96]. So much for THAT turncoat.
The ad continues with a statement from the NEXT talking head .LARRY THURLOW, who says: .When the Chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry. My Thurlow ALSO, was never a crewmate of John Kerry, but he, and HIS BOAT were also entrapped in that ambush on that fateful date in March of 1969. The Official After-Action Report states: Larry Thurlow had maneuvered his PCF-51 over (to the disabled) PCF-3, and by and hopped aboard to offer assistance. The boat was in shambles but they were still returning fire and could not therefore assess any damage The Report continues .ALL BOATS RECEIVED HEAVY A/W [automatic weapons] & S/A [small arms] FROM BOTH BANKS ALL BOATS RETURNED FIRE PCF-94 [Kerrys boat] PICKED UP SPECIAL FORCES ADVISOR WHO WENT OVERBOARD. PCF-94 TOWED PCF-3. [U.S. Navy After Action Report:)
Did you all catch that last part? Despite the withering gunfire, despite being wounded, and AFTER saving the life of the Special Forces Guy Lt. Kerry Commanding PCF-94, hooked up a tow line to the disabled PCF-3, and TOWED it to (eventual) safety! It does NOT state that Lt. Thurlow took on this task! Who is he ACTUALLY talking about when he says when the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry?
The ad goes on to Talking Head #7, BOB ELDER who states: John Kerry is no war hero. Really Bob?
How about some quotations from the TWO major medals awarded to Lt. Kerry:
Kerrys Silver Star Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Coastal Division ELEVEN engaged in armed conflict with Viet Cong insurgents in An Xuyen Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 28 February 1969.
Kerrys Bronze Star Citation: For heroic achievement while serving with Coastal Division ELEVEN engaged in armed conflict with Viet Cong communist aggressors in An Xuyen Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 13 March 1969.
Next, in quick succession come statements from THREE MORE Swiftboat Veterans for Bush. Once again, NONE of the three were crewmates of John Kerry. Presumably their statements refer to the SECOND period of Patriotic Service that Kohn Kerry gave to his Country. That would be his Post-Vietnam Activity as a proud member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and his riveting 1971 Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mr. SHELTON WHITE states: John Kerry betrayed the men and women he served with in Vietnam.
Mr. JOE PONDER states: He dishonored his country. He most certainly did.
Mr. GRANT HIBBARD states: He betrayed all his shipmates. He lied before the Senate.
John Kerry damn well EARNED his right to tell his story of HIS Vietnam experience, to the US Congress, to the media, and to the public. Thats the duty of a true patriot .and ALL of his actual crewmates are fiercely loyal to, and supportive of, the service that John Kerry gave to his Country .both IN VIETNAM, and AFTER VIETNAM. They ALL endorse the praise heaped upon their former commander as specified in:
Kerrys Silver Star Citation: His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Kerrys Bronze Star Citation: KERRYs calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Talking Head Number 13 in the Hit Piece ad, is the baffling statement of JACK CHENOWITH, who ALSO was never a crewmate of John Kerrys, nevertheless appears Out of Nowhere to state: His account of what happened and what actually happened are the difference between night and day.
Sorry Mr. Chenowith, your disagreement is NOT with any account made by John Kerry. It is rather the Account of the U.S. Navy, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Commander U.S. Naval Forces in Vietnam and backed up by Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley, Special Forces Lt. James Rassmann and the Crewmates of PCF-44 & PCF 94. It is THEIR account of the service of John Kerry in Vietnam that you choose to question. But WHERE WERE YOU, Mr. Chenowith, that your account differs like night and day???
Next we hear a short statement by Admiral ROY HOFFMAN, who, in 1969, was Captain Roy Hoffman, in charge of Operation Sealords, code name for all Swiftboat activities. In effect, he was John Kerrys boss. Recently Admiral Hoffman admitted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he had no first-hand knowledge to discredit Kerry's claims to valor and said that although Kerry was under his command, he really didn't know Kerry much personally. Yet on four separate instances in February and March of 1969, Hoffmann cabled Kerry and his crew, praising them and other Swift boats after skirmishes. In the Milwaukee newspaper interview, Hoffmann acknowledged the cables, saying Kerry showed "some pretty sharp thinking. He had courage. That did not stop him from appearing in the Kerry Hit piece, and making the statement: Jon Kerry has not been honest. How would he know? When was he bought out??
Presumably some time AFTER he accompanied Lt. Kerry to his Silver Star Ceremony!
Finally, we have Swiftboat Veteran for Bush #13, Mr. BOB HILDRETH. He states: I served with John Kerry. John Kerry cannot be trusted.. Bob Hildreth WAS NOT A CREWMATE OF JOHN KERRYS, so what would he know about trusting John Kerry? A BETTER measure of Trust, would be the powerful statement made by JIM WASSER who certainly was a Kerry Crewmate. Mr. Wasser emphatically states: If John Kerry came to us and said he had one more mission and we're going to hell, he'd have a full crew (Jim Wasser [Dallas Morning News, 7/29/04)
And then its over! Sixty seconds of PURE TRASH as characterized by the men who truly WERE the crewmates of John Kerry.
But WHO ARE these Swiftboat Veterans for Bush? These so called VETERANS FOR TRUTH??? And WHY are they (now) saying such nasty things about him? Simple and predictable. Politics. Ugly Politics.
Far from being a grassroots organization of veterans, this group is a front for the right-wing Texas Republicans with
extensive ties to George Bush and the GOP. The leaders are close colleagues and co-workers of Karl Rove and tied
to the Bush White House. The Texas-based head of the group responsible for this smear campaign and several ads
run against John McCain in 2000 is married to George Bushs former running mate.
Their connections are in plain sight. Merrie Spaeth, the communications and media consultant for the Swiftboat
Veterans for Bush was the spokesperson for the group which also unfairly attacked Republican challenger
Former POW John McCain in the Republican Primary Campaigns of 2000. At THAT TIME, they tried to discredit
John McCain's reputation in Vietnam service, and followed that disgrace by attacking the military service of (then)
Georgia Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam. [CBS Evening News, Pitts, 5/4/04]
In 1994, Spaeths (late) husband, LEZAR HAROLD ran with George W. Bush as the Lieutenant Gubernatorial
candidate. He lost while Bush won. Lezar had been a Nixon speechwriter, worked in Reagans Justice Department,
and then settled back in Texas at John ONeills law firm.
Bob Perry, a major supporter of President Bush and the Republican Party, is the biggest financial backer of this vitriolic group. According to federal records. Perry, a Houston homebuilder, gave $100,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. That accounted for two-thirds of the organization's receipts to date. [DMN, Slater, 7/23/04].
Since January 2000, Mr. Perry has donated more than $5.2 million to Republican candidates and causes,
making him by far the most prolific giver in Texas over that time, according to campaign records reviewed by
The Dallas Morning News. Chunks of his money, coming sometimes in a flurry of $ 25,000 checks, have gone
to support anti-lawsuit, pro-business groups ($ 320,000) and the state Republican Party ($ 980,000).
Last year, he provided $ 600,000 to 23 GOP candidates for the Legislature, helping lift Republicans to their
first takeover of the Texas House since Reconstruction. [DMN, 11/2/03]
Perry has also been contributing to the Bush family across the country for more than two decades. Perry has
donated more than $130,000 to the Bush family campaigns including George H.W. Bush, Prescott, S. Bush, Jr.
George W. Bush and Jeb Bush. [Sources: FollowtheMoney.org, PoliticalMoneline.com; fec.gov; Dallas Morning
News, 11/1/94; Florida Department of State, Elections Division]
Harlan Crow, the Dallas real estate magnate and big contributor to George Bush, was the second largest giver
to the anti-Kerry group contributing $25,000 or 15.75% of all their contributions.
Even Fox News has their number! In a Fox news Special Report of 5/4/04, they said: Many Of Them Are Republicans Who Have Contributed To And Backed Various Bush Campaigns And Causes Over The Decades The GOP says it's not involved with the veterans criticizing Kerry, but many of them are Republicans who have contributed to and backed various Bush campaigns and causes over the decades. [Fox News, Special Report, Cameron, 5/4/04]
As if the buy-out of numerous veterans who served in the same Vietnam areas as Kerry was not low enough, the Dallas Morning News recently broke a story titled: Private Investigator Digs Into Kerrys War Past Group Defends Investigation; Veterans Say Comments Distorted. Opponents of John Kerry have hired a Dallas-area private investigator to gather information aimed at discrediting his military service, say several veterans who served with the Massachusetts Democrat in Vietnam. Several veterans who have been contacted in recent days accused the private investigator, Tom Rupprath of Rockwall, of twisting their words to produce misleading and inaccurate accounts that call into doubt the medals Mr. Kerry received for his service. They're just distorting things, said Jim Wasser, who served with Mr. Kerry. They have nothing to go after John Kerry for, so now they're trying to discredit him. [DMN, Slater, 7/13/04]
Their singular goal is to undercut the credentials of John Kerry as a potential new Commander in chief. As was the case with the attacks on Sen. John McCain and Rep. Cleland four years ago, Mr. Rove and his boss will claim they have nothing to do with these "independent" efforts made by Patriotic Citizens and Vets.
Who is gonna buy that transparent ruse. Certainly not Republican Senator John McCain. After hearing of the Hit Piece, he called the ad "dishonest and dishonorable" and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it as well. "It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," McCain said in an interview with The Associated Press. Later, McCain said the Bush campaign has denied any involvement and added, "I can't believe the president would pull such a cheap stunt." The White House did not immediately address McCain's call that they repudiate the spot.
McCain continued: "I deplore this kind of politics. I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. So do I. Neither of us is fooled by the lies of these Political Shills, and YOU should not be either.
Stephen S. Noetzel, (Former) Green Beret in Vietnam and (present) San Francisco Coordinator
Now more then ever, PLEASE make this trip, please let Nichole know as soon as possible.
From: Nichole Cirillo [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2004 2:01 PM
Sitting at home wondering where you want to go for summer vacation? Well wonder no more because the Kerry-Edwards campaign has several exciting battleground vacations planned for you and your friends.
Please join us for one or more of the exciting trips below:
· Click here to RSVP for the August 7 trip to New Hampshire.
· Click here to RSVP for the August 13-15 trip to Pennsylvania.
· Click here to RSVP for the August 21 trip to New Hampshire.
· Click here to RSVP for the August 27-30 trip to Ohio.
· Click here to RSVP for the August 28 trip to Maine.
During each of these 5 trips we will be going door to door to talk with the most critical element of the electorate, swing and independent voters. As Massachusetts supporters you are the best spokespeople for John Kerrys vision of a stronger America. So please get on the bus (thats right WE provide the transportation!) and take to the streets to spread the word on John Kerry and John Edwards vision of a stronger America. RSVP to Nichole at email@example.com or by calling 617-367-1551.
Cant make it in August? Stay tuned for future traveling updates on how to get involved.
See you on the campaign trail,
Massachusetts for Kerry-Edwards
You really do unearth THE best stuff.
Brewster resident Joseph Bangert - one of the proverbial boys in the band. Back on the Cape, Bangert's twin brother, John, was watching Kerry's televised speech with his wife and their daughter. "She jumped up and said, 'there's my uncle in CNN!'" John Bangert said of his daughter, Claire, 11. "I think that John (Kerry) never forgot his friends and last night was an indication of that," John Bangert said yesterday.
Joe Bangert, 55, a decorated Marine who met Kerry in 1970 after both became activists against the war, spent five days working as a volunteer in Kerry's campaign. Bangert returned home yesterday, exhausted but still exhilarated. "I woke up this morning and I noticed all these guys my age were putting their military hats and jackets on," Bangert said. "I think there's a whole bunch of people who are finding out, through this campaign, that it's OK to be a veteran."
Kerry's candidacy holds potential as "catharsis for the Vietnam generation," he said. Bangert, of the Veterans for Kerry contingent, said Kerry has drawn together a formidable coalition of veterans, past and current anti-war activists and even some conservatives disenchanted with President Bush.
What they share, Bangert said, is anger at Bush and the federal government for cuts in veterans services and doubts that things will improve under the current commander-in-chief.
Bangert works as a volunteer teaching English to immigrant Brazilians in Hyannis. He may rejoin the campaign with other veterans heading to South Carolina from Boston this weekend. ( Or he may not) ;_ Anybodt have ideas? South Carolina for a long weekend sounds mighty fine to me. Yippie! Joe (Dioxin) Bangert :-) Monday night at 10, Kerry returned to campaign headquarters in Manchester for a final rally before the primary. Kerry spotted Bangert and called out his name, then embraced him.
His "job" is volunteer teacher to illegals? Is Kerry paying him? Has Kerry ALWAYS paid him to lie,I wonder.
'Hanoi Jane' and 'Thanh Phong Bob'
By Joe Bangert
Why does The Cape Cod Times see fit to stir up the Viet quagmire by giving "Attaboys" to nutso misogynistic veterans, obsessed with harassing Jane Fonda? In one recent editorial (CCT April 10, 2001), the Cape Cod Times piled on top of the pillory Jane Fonda gang. It editorialized yet another futile campaign in which "the veterans network kicked in, calling for a cancellation and a picket line" of a Texas event in which Jane Fonda was a guest speaker for a truly noble cause - teenage pregnancy prevention. Such brave men you join!
Next comes the issue of "Thanh Phong Bob" Kerrey and the killing of women and children back in 1969. In this instance the CCT editorial (May 5th) mentions its "profound exhaustion of emotional turmoil of the Vietnam experience." What cheek! Maybe your fingers got tired typing your vituperative venom against an Academy award winning actress who emotionally and correctly spoke out against the insanity of the U.S. war against Vietnam and all its people, north, central and south. She traveled under its falling bombs carrying letters and packages to the POWs in Hanoi back in 1972, don't forget.
I remember back in 1969 the attitude of many of the half million plus of us initially was: "Kill them all now and sort it out later." Fonda was not alone as she protested the late ugly war; there were, in fact, veterans by her side as well as many active duty GIs, other famous actors and actresses, many women, youth and workers. Indeed more then half the nation favored giving peace a chance.
For the record, it was the American Nazi Party that first demonstrated against Jane Fonda during the Republican National Convention. I was there, too, when the Nazis attempted to interrupt Miss Fonda's speech to the thousands gathered at Flamingo Park, Florida. Jane's goose-stepping enemies were routed by both VVAW and old Jewish retirees who lived nearby as Nixon prepared to receive his second nomination in 1972. The uniformed stormtroopers attempted to interrupt her powerful speech, I recall, but were thwarted by a grand coalition of hirsute combat Vietnam vets and old folks throwing hot chicken soup on these fascists bent on silencing Miss Fonda, including yours truly. Nixon had begun to bomb the dike system of the Red River Delta.
She was a heroine to visit Vietnam under B-52 bombardment in July, 1972, and this needs to be said aloud. It was during this vicious bitter period that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI ran the counterintelligence program codenamed COINTELPRO which sought to demonize anti-war activists. It was this program that first uttered and connected the words traitor and Hanoi to Miss Fonda's name. And hey, how is it that this same FBI can be home to the biggest spies of the century and only release now what they knew all the time, from their own surveillance files of the KKK mad bombers of children?
The Times seems not to have carried the Fonda flap to its own attic yet. The Times exculpated "Kerrey's Raiders" of atrocity in a spot called Thanh Phong by mentioning gunfire in a "fetid foreign world where no one spoke the language." How fucking arrogant. Did any of your editorial writers ever step foot into a Vietnamese village during the late war? I think not. Had they done so, then they would know that some of us were trained to speak the language; chung toi co the noi tieng Viet (we could speak Vietnamese).
The Times also referred to Kerrey's age of 24 as being a kid. He was the commanding officer, and assumed "command responsibility," period. What he admits to doing was clearly in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Justice demands further investigation.
The Times called the slaughter at Thanh Phong "one mistake" when sixteen to twenty bodies were left behind. That is an interesting choice of words. Glad you don't count my pay. And you state there is silence at the heart of this matter. You are the one who is letting Kerrey off easy. Your stretch for amnesiac exculpatory relief for Kerrey's Raiders is transparent.
I have yet to see one member of any organized religion speak out in print on this issue. They have remained silent, just as they did for many years during the beginning of our war in Vietnam.
I personally turned against the war while still in uniform in 1969. As my vessel, the USS Bexar, entered San Diego harbor, I proudly displayed a hastily painted peace sign off the starboard side along with hundreds of cheering Marines and sailors flashing peace signs. Within a year, Lieutenant "Rusty" Calley was charged and court-martialled for the My Lai (Pinkville) Massacre. The Pentagon at the time said that My Lai was "an isolated incident of aberrant behavior." We knew better. So some of us returned home and in disgust of what we witnessed, saw, smelled, felt, heard and did in Vietnam. War . . . what is it good for? Absolutely nothing! went the lyrics of a song at the time. I couldn't wait to get home to bear witness to my own truth about Vietnam.
After sailing home on the Pacific, I was warmly welcomed home to Philadelphia, and my family even had flags and bunting around our windows and doors. I was never spit on, nor do I believe many other Vietnam veterans were. I admit that I was one of the "few good men" who volunteered testimony in the Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit in 1971 about atrocities I personally witnessed in Vietnam. In fact, during Operation Dewey Canyon III I turned myself in along with two other vets from Philadelphia to make a report and even face possible arrest at the front gate of the Pentagon. The military intelligence types in civilian suits took us inside and recorded our statements in a room not far from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Rules are rules! Was Moses not commanded by God in the Sinai that all of the children of Abraham were to abide by ten good rules? Number Five being Thou shall not kill ! It doesn't say that this rule can be suspended when it is in our "national interest" to do so, or even when it would be tactically more convenient to slit innocent throats of Vietnamese to escape detection during a clandestine SEAL or SOG (special operations group) mission. The Geneva conventions on land warfare was taught to most of us in boot camp.
My Memorial Day memories pour out of being in the same world as all of you, but just on the other side of it, in Quang Tri, where all the bombs and firepower exacted against little Vietnam fell. Machine gunning from the air gives one a unique perspective on the war and so did medevacing the dead and wounded; the smells of gas and hydraulic fluid mixing with the ear-piercing thwacking of the rotors and the movement of liquid human viscera at my feet while under enemy fire can never leave me; seeing and hearing "Puff, the Magic Dragon" spew its deadly automatic free-fire-zone saturation bulleting and covering the area of a football field at home in one minute; hearing the battleship USS New Jersey salute the Viet Cong and Pathet Lao and anyone in between with 16-inch rounds over our heads, all the while being shaken by the TPQs of B-52s conducting carpet bombings near or very near our base camp areas and landing zones in 1969.
We were half a million, and when I was there we certainly knew we weren't winning any more hearts and minds. To be honest, in 1969, half of us Marines were getting loaded on marijuana every night to escape our terrible realities; those who couldn't or wouldn't get high got drunk. All we wanted to do is get home alive. And so that is why I joined up with Vietnam Veterans Against the War: to stop more My Lais and Thanh Phongs from happening. To end the slaughter on both sides.
We marched in Boston and Hyannis on the 4th of July in 1972 and in Philly and Harrisburg and Valley Forge - demanding to stop the bombing and stop the war, bring our brothers and sisters home. Are these the acts of traitors and cowards? On April 23, 1971 we marched to the foot of the Capitol, our number less than fifteen hundred. Our comrade, and today our "junior" senator of Massachusetts, John F. Kerry addressed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and said:
"I would like to talk about the feelings these men carry with them after coming back from Vietnam. The country doesn't realize it yet but it has created a monster in the form of thousands of men who have been taught to deal and trade in violence and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history - men who have returned with a sense of anger and betrayal that no one so far has been able to grasp. We are angry because we feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country.
"We are probably angriest about all that we were told about Vietnam and about the mystical war against communism. We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from. We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese, or American.
"We found that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw firsthand how monies from American taxes were used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by our flag, and blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs and search-and-destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism, and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong. We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum. We learned the meaning of free-fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals."
"That was then, and this is now, Dad," says my teenaged son. Yet this bears repeating today.
There is no doubt that the racism of "our war" in Vietnam turned me sour to its instinctual inhumanity. On this Memorial Day, 2001 - as Old Glory goes waving by - how can I ever forget a place called Quang Tri, it was there too she waved, some 13,000 miles from my native Philadelphia, and next to her flew a body count flag showing three digits!
And so I too tossed my medals over Nixon/McNamara/Laird Line - the offending wire fence blocking our access to Congress - with fresh memories of Vietnam in '68 and 1969. My veteran's burden was lightened immeasurably by that action, and I will never ever forget the camaraderie found within the exclusive fraternal VVAW compound on the Mall, not far from where the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located. Come to think of it, who ever heard of Viet vets ever demonstrating for the war?
In Vietnam, it was often said: "Kill them all now, sort it out later." So now 2001 is later and the Cape Cod Times should not place either the burden of Kerrey in Thanh Phong or any other horrible yet-to-be-discovered hamlet horrors solely on the backs of their combatants, but on all of American society, including its editorial writers. Bob Kerrey would do well to unburden himself of his Bronze and blood-caked Star now. Been there, done that, with a terrible mighty joy.
Joe Bangert served with VMO-6 (Marine Observation Squadron 6) in Quang Tri, Vietnam, 1968-1969. Bangert joined VVAW during the summer of 1970, participated in Operation RAW, WSI and Operation Dewey Canyon III in Washington, D.C. He worked with Gator May Day and was not arrested. He was inducted into the Oglala Sioux Warrior Society at Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge Reservation, in Lakota Territory in 1973. Bangert also worked in Hanoi, Vietnam from 1992 to 1997.
he is communist
Kerry, who worked with Sen. John McCain to restore peace between the United States and Vietnam, strikes a chord of hope among Vietnam veterans, said Bangert. Kerry "can have a cathartic effect on the Vietnam generation," Bangert said. "I think this is kind of a healing movement for our generation to move on."
Well I do believe that Kerry running for POTUS will have a healing effect on our Vietnam Vets.