Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Thursday, April 22, 2004  

The quote in the previous post comes from a Boston Globe article about Kerry's history as a protester (I was reminded of it by the Minute Man). That history has become relevant since John O'Neill has come out of the woodwork to blast Kerry as unpatriotic. ("His allegations that people committed war crimes in that unit, and throughout Vietnam, were lies. He knew they were lies when he said them, and they were very damaging lies.... John Kerry is not a war hero. He couldn't tie the shoes of some of the people in Coastal Division 11.")

Righties have of course seized on this, desperately trying to divert attention from the important stuff--the war in Iraq, their guy's abysmal history, etc. For example, the National Review offers: "So there it is: a regular American -- O'Neill, father of two, likes hiking, playing golf, and taking an active part in his church -- not content anymore to allow Kerry and his kind to keep hijacking the Vietnam War."

Now Kerry's records are available, and apparently, they're pretty impressive. Part of the controversy comes from a former commander who called one of the three purple hearts Kerry received bogus (it was "just a scratch"). Well, here's what the records say happened (from the previous link):

On Feb. 28, 1969, Kerry's craft and two other boats came under heavy fire from the riverbanks. Kerry ordered his units to turn into the ambush and sent men ashore to charge the enemy. According to the records, an enemy soldier holding a loaded rocket launcher sprang up within 10 feet of Kerry's boat and fled. Kerry leapt ashore, ran down the man and killed him.

Kerry and his men chased or killed all the enemy soldiers in the area, captured enemy weapons and then returned to the boat only to come under fire from the opposite bank as they began to pull away.

Kerry again beached his boat and led a party ashore to pursue the enemy, and they successfully silenced the shooting. Later, the boats were again under fire, and Kerry initiated a heavy response that killed 10 Viet Cong and wounded another, with no casualties to his own men.

He won the Silver Star "for gallantry and intrepidity in action" that day. Two weeks later, Kerry was engaged in another firefight that resulted in a Bronze Star for heroic achievement and his third Purple Heart, which would result in his reassignment out of Vietnam.

Kerry was commanding one of five boats on patrol on March 13, 1969, when two mines detonated almost simultaneously, one beneath another boat and one near Kerry's craft. Shrapnel hit Kerry's buttocks, and his right arm was bleeding from contusions, but he rescued a boatmate who had been thrown overboard in the blast and was under sniper fire from both banks.

Again it looks as if the administration has rushed to demand something be declassified before they know what they'll find (remember when Bill Frist challenged Clarke?). Careful, Karl, sometimes you get what you wish for.

(Kerry's records are now posted at his website.)

posted by Jeff | 11:14 AM |
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