Saturday, August 28, 2004

Of the many charges against John Kerry’s Vietnam record made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the Kerry campaign has managed to keep Mr. Kerry’s Silver Star story above water. Chicago Tribune editor William B. Rood came out last week as an eyewitness to the events of Feb. 28, 1969, bolstering Mr. Kerry’s version of events, as have official Naval records. Though Mr. Kerry has had to backtrack on at least two of his accounts — the “Christmas in Cambodia” story and whether he really deserved his first Purple Heart — the day when Mr. Kerry beached his swift boat and tracked down a Viet Cong soldier seems to have withstood scrutiny.

Which is why we were surprised when we ran across some news accounts questioning Mr. Kerry’s DD 214 ( a veteran’s record of transfer or separation), which lists his Silver Star with a combat “V” (for valor) and is posted at According to military experts and historians, the combat “V” is never awarded with a Silver Star. As Henry Mark and Erika Holzer note in, “it would be redundant to award a Silver Star for ‘gallantry’ and then embellish it with a ‘V’ for valor.” The authors also cite the Navy Awards Manual, which describes the laws concerning Combat Distinguishing Devices: Prior to 1974, “the ‘V’ was authorized for wear on the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal.” Since then, about four more medals have been authorized. Conspicuously missing of course is the Silver Star.

On Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a similar story by Thomas Lipscomb, who spoke to B.G. Burkett, author of “Stolen Valor” and recipient of the Army’s highest award given to a civilian, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. For his book, Mr. Burkett had to read thousands of military records to uncover phony claims of awards. “I’ve run across several claims for Silver Stars with combat ‘V’s, but they were all in fake records,” he told Mr. Lipscomb.

Mr. and Mrs. Holzer bring up another interesting point. Over at, the Navy citation for Mr. Kerry’s Silver Star does not mention the combat “V”. It appears, then, that the Navy didn’t mistakingly grant a “V” with Mr. Kerry’s Silver Star. So, how did it get into Mr. Kerry’s DD 214?

This is more serious than one would think. In Title 19, U.S. Code, Section 1001, the law states: “Whoever, in any manner within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the United States, knowingly and willfully … makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.” As Mr. Lipscomb reports, a complaint filed by Mr. Burkett actually led to the sentencing of Navy Capt. Roger D. Edwards to 115 days in the brig for falsification of his records.

Mr. Kerry has yet another inconsistency to account for, and this one is by no means a question of foggy memories.

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