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Records indicate Kerry did his duty
Question of the Day
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 At this point, it is thought that the remaining unpublished documents are limited to medical and college records.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.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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