- The Washington Times - Monday, October 18, 2004

The Navy records posted on Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign Web site have stirred suspicion of wrongdoing among Internet bloggers, but authoritative sources say the documents show that the ex-Navy officer fulfilled his duty.

One gap that remains is the Democratic presidential nominee’s failure to sign a government Standard Form 180. It would authorize the Navy to release any personnel or medical record. At this point, it is thought that the remaining unpublished documents are limited to medical and college records.

A Kerry spokesman did not return phone calls seeking an answer to whether the candidate would sign such a waiver. Spokesmen previously have said Mr. Kerry has posted all records from his personnel file.

President Bush has ordered the Pentagon to release all records — his personnel file as well as any other document — that deal with his Texas Air National Guard service.

The White House has released hundreds of pages of such documents, including physical exams.

Navy officials say any documents that might pertain to Mr. Kerry’s four months in Vietnam, such as after-action reports, are not personnel records and thus not subject to SF-180.

Those papers can be found in archives or sought by reporters via Freedom of Information Act requests. Some have been located by reporters and authors.

Some veterans, including those who served with him, are angered by Mr. Kerry’s anti-war stances and his statements denigrating the military after he left active duty in 1970. Here are some of the charges brought by Internet bloggers and veterans opposed to Mr. Kerry:

• Mr. Kerry did not receive an honorable discharge. “My guess is that he was discharged in the ‘70s but not honorably,” said one blogger in a widely circulated e-mail.

This accusation is refuted by Mr. Kerry’s DD214, a separation-from-active-duty document. It was provided to him by the Navy and posted on his Web site, JohnKerry.com.

Mr. Kerry joined the Navy in 1966, completed officer training and served nearly four years on active duty. He requested an early separation in December 1969, which was granted a month later.

The Navy issued the DD214 that January 1970 that lists his “character of service” as “honorable.”

cA second charge is that Mr. Kerry did not successfully fulfill his time in the Reserves, so a special board had to be convened to determine what type of discharge he should receive.

Navy documents show that in 1978, he received an “honorable discharge certificate” after a board of officers convened and reviewed his record.

Navy officials say today that the board was standard operating procedure at that time for all reservists and does not indicate Mr. Kerry did anything wrong.

After service just short of four years on active duty, Mr. Kerry transferred to the Ready Reserve and then in 1972 to the standby Reserve. He was not required to attend drills under those two designations, says a Navy official who asked not to be named.

• A third charge: Mr. Kerry got his Vietnam War medal citations reissued in the 1980s because he was stripped of them for misconduct.

Navy officials say that there is no evidence that Mr. Kerry’s Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts were ever rescinded and that there is no evidence of misconduct in his records.

He did receive new medal citations in the mid-1980s. Officials say the Navy receives scores, and perhaps hundreds, of such requests each year from veterans who want a second copy or have lost the originals.

The citations are simply put through a machine that implants the signature of the current Navy secretary. John Lehman’s signature, via a machine, appears on Mr. Kerry’s new citation for his Silver Star.

Although Navy officials say Mr. Kerry’s personnel papers are in order, some of the men who served with him in river patrol boat units in Vietnam say he exaggerated his war record and demeaned the military as an anti-war protester.

The best-selling “Unfit for Command” by John E. O’Neill and Jerome R. Corsi makes this charge: “John Kerry would like many people today to view his service in Vietnam as one of honor and courage. But the real John Kerry of Vietnam was a man who filed false operating reports, who faked Purple Hearts, and who took a fast pass through the combat zones.”

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