A number of the combat commanders, fellow officers and other men who served with Sen. John Kerry in Vietnam have challenged his accounts of combat heroism in a new book, “Unfit for Command” (Regnery Publishing), by John E. ONeill, who took over command of Swift Boat PCF 94 from Lt. Kerry, and Jerome R. Corsi, a political scientist who has written extensively about the Vietnam War protest movement. Each of these excerpts from “Unfit for Command” includes comparisons of Mr. Kerrys earlier published accounts to recollections of others who served with him.
First of three excerpts
In the history of Swift Boats in Vietnam, all military personnel served a tour of duty of at least one year unless seriously wounded. Among the few exceptions was John Kerry, who requested to leave Vietnam in 1969 after four months, citing a regulation that permitted release of personnel with three Purple Hearts.
Kerry, now the four-term senator from Massachusetts and the Democratic presidential nominee, is also the only known “Swiftee” who received the Purple Heart for a self-inflicted wound.
None of Kerry’s three Purple Hearts was for serious injuries. They were minor scratches, resulting in no lost duty time.
Each of these decorations is controversial, with considerable evidence (and in two cases, incontrovertible and conclusive evidence) that the injuries were caused by his own hand and not the result of hostile fire.
Kerry’s injuries are a subject of ridicule among fellow Swiftees.
“Many took exception to the Purple Hearts awarded to Kerry,” Swift Boat veteran William E. Franke, a Silver Star recipient, wrote to the authors in March. “His ‘wounds’ were suspect, so insignificant as to not be worthy of the award of such a medal.”
Franke and about 200 others, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, came forth in May to question Kerry’s deception. These veterans from Kerry’s unit signed a petition calling on him to execute Standard Form 180 and allow the public complete access to his service record.
Swiftees have remarked that if Kerry faked even one of these awards, he owed the Navy 243 additional days in Vietnam before running for anything.
In a unit where terribly wounded personnel like Shelton White (now an undersea film producer for National Geographic) chose to return to duty after three wounds on the same day, Kerry’s actions were disgraceful.
Indeed, many share the feelings of Adm. Roy F. Hoffmann, to whom all Swiftees reported when he was commander of Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam in 1968-69: Kerry simply “bugged out” when the heat was on.
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