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Old 03-04-2004, 08:54 AM
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Kerry in Vietnam

I know a lot of you have probably seen the article questioning Kerry's service and medals received, so here's some more info (long):

Under the newly launched Operation SEALORD, swift boats were charged with patrolling the narrow waterways of the Mekong Delta to draw fire and smoke out the enemy. Cruising inlets and coves and canals, swift boats were especially vulnerable targets.


The swift boat crew typically consisted of a college-educated skipper, such as Kerry, and five blue-collar sailors averaging 19 years old. The most vulnerable sailor sat in the "tub" a squat nest that rose above the pilot house and operated a pair of .50-caliber machine guns. Another gunner was in the rear. Kerry's mission was to wait until hidden Viet Cong guerrillas started shooting, then order his men to return fire.

According to a Boston Globe overview of John Kerry's Vietnam experience:

Under [Navy Admiral Elmo] Zumwalt's command, swift boats would aggressively engage the enemy. Zumwalt, who died in 2000, calculated in his autobiography that these men under his command had a 75 percent chance of being killed or wounded during a typical year.

"There were an awful lot of Purple Hearts from shrapnel, some of those might have been M-40 grenades," said George Elliott, Kerry's commanding officer. "The Purple Hearts were coming down in boxes. Kerry, he had three Purple Hearts. None of them took him off duty. Not to belittle it, that was more the rule than the exception."

And according to Douglas Brinkley's history of John Kerry and the Vietnam War: As generally understood, the Purple Heart is given to any U.S. citizen wounded in wartime service to the nation.

John Kerry was wounded in his first significant combat action, when he volunteered for a special mission on 2 December 1968:

"It was a half-assed action that hardly qualfied as combat, but it was my first, and that made it very exciting," [Kerry said]. "Three of us, two enlisted men and myself, had stayed up all night in a Boston Whaler [a foam-filled-fiberglass boat] patrolling the shore off a Viet Cong-infested peninsula north of Cam Ranh . . . Most of the night had been spent being scared ****less by fisherman whom we would suddenly creep up on in the darkness....(snip)........... "Then, very early in the morning, around 2:00 or 3:00, while it was still dark, we proceeded up the tiny inlet between the island and the peninsula to the point designated as our objective. The jungle closed in on us on both sides. It was scary as hell. You could hear yourself breathing. We were almost touching the shore. Suddenly, through the magnified moonlight of the infrared 'starlight scope,' I watched, mesmerized, as a group of sampans glided in toward the shore. We had been briefed that this was a favorite crossing area for VC trafficking contraband."

With its motor turned off, Kerry paddled the Boston Whaler out of the inlet into the beginning of the bay. Simultaneously the Vietnamese pulled their sampans up onto the beach and began to unload something; he couldn't tell what, so he decided to illuminate the proceedings with a flare. The entire sky seemed to explode into daylight. ............... "We opened fire," he went on. "The light from the flares started to fade, the air was full of explosions. My M-16 jammed, and as I bent down in the boat to grab another gun, a stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell. By this time one of the sailors had started the engine and we ran by the beach, strafing it. Then it was quiet.

"We stayed quiet and low because we did not want to illuminate ourselves at that point," Kerry explained. "In the dead of night, without any knowledge of what kind of force was there, we were not all about to go crawling on the beach to get our ***** shot off. We were unprotected; we didn't have ammunition, we didn't have cover, we just weren't prepared for that . . . So we first shot the sampans so that they were destroyed and whatever was in them was destroyed." Then their cover boat warned of a possible VC ambush in the small channel they had to exit through, and Kerry and company departed the area.

The "stinging piece of heat" Kerry felt in his arm had been caused by a piece of shrapnel, a wound for which he was awarded a Purple Heart. .....Brinkley notes that Kerry went on a regular Swift boat patrol the next day with a bandage on his arm, and the Boston Globe quoted William Schachte, who oversaw the mission and went on to become a rear admiral, as recalling that "It was not a very serious wound at all."

Kerry earned his second Purple Heart while returning from a PCF mission up the Bo De River on 20 February 1969:

One of the mission's support helicopters had been hit by small-arms fire during the trip up the Bo De and the rest had returned with it to their base to refuel ........"We therefore had a choice: to wait for what was not a confirmed return by the helos [and] give any snipers more time to set up an ambush for our exit or we could take a chance and exit immediately without any cover," Kerry recorded in his notebook. "We chose the latter."

Just as they moved out onto the Cua Lon, ....... PCF-94 had taken a rocket-propelled grenade round off the port side, fired at them from the far left bank. Kerry felt a piece of hot shrapnel bore into his left leg. ......the Swift managed to make an otherwise uneventful exit into the Gulf of Thailand, where they rendezvoused with a Coast Guard cutter. The injury Kerry suffered in that action earned his his second Purple Heart.
Brinkley noted that, as in the previous case, "Kerry's wound was not serious enough to require time off from duty."

Kerry earned his Silver Star on 28 February 1969, when he beached his craft and jumped off it with an M-16 rifle in hand to chase and shoot a guerrilla who was running into position to launch a B-40 rocket at Kerry's boat. ............... Kerry's boat had been hit by a rocket fired by someone else the guerrilla in question was still armed with a live B-40 and had only been clipped in the leg; when the guerrilla got up to run, Kerry assumed he was getting into position to launch a rocket and shot him.

On Feb. 28, 1969, Kerry's boat received word that a swift boat was being ambushed. As Kerry raced to the scene, his boat became another target, as a Viet Cong B-40 rocket blast shattered a window. ...... Beach the boat, Kerry ordered, and the craft's bow was quickly rammed upon the shoreline. Out of the bush appeared a teenager in a loin cloth, clutching a grenade launcher.

An enemy was just feet away, holding a weapon with enough firepower to blow up the boat. Kerry's forward gunner, [Tommy] Belodeau, shot and clipped the Viet Cong in the leg. Then Belodeau's gun jammed, according to other crewmates (Belodeau died in 1997). [Michael] Medeiros tried to fire at the Viet Cong, but he couldn't get a shot off.

In an interview, Kerry added a chilling detail.

"This guy could have dispatched us in a second, but for . . . I'll never be able to explain, we were literally face to face, he with his B-40 rocket and us in our boat, and he didn't pull the trigger. I would not be here today talking to you if he had," Kerry recalled. "And Tommy clipped him, and he started going [down.] I thought it was over."

Instead, the guerrilla got up and started running. "We've got to get him, make sure he doesn't get behind the hut, and then we're in trouble," Kerry recalled.

So Kerry shot and killed the guerrilla. "I don't have a second's question about that, nor does anybody who was with me," he said. "He was running away with a live B-40, and, I thought, poised to turn around and fire it." Asked whether that meant Kerry shot the guerrilla in the back, Kerry said, "No, absolutely not. He was hurt, other guys were shooting from back, side, back. There is no, there is not a scintilla of question in any person's mind who was there [that] this guy was dangerous, he was a combatant, he had an armed weapon." ...............

The crewman with the best view of the action was Frederic Short, the man in the tub operating the twin guns. Short had not talked to Kerry for 34 years, until after he was recently contacted by a Globe reporter. Kerry said he had "totally forgotten" Short was on board that day.

Short had joined Kerry's crew just two weeks earlier, as a last-minute replacement, and he was as green as the Arkansas grass of his home. He said he didn't realize that he should have carried an M-16 rifle, figuring the tub's machine guns would be enough. But as Kerry stood face to face with the guerrilla carrying the rocket, Short realized his predicament. With the boat beached and the bow tilted up, a guard rail prevented him from taking aim at the enemy. For a terrifying moment, the guerrilla looked straight at Short with the rocket. ......................"I laid in fire with the twin .50s, and he got behind a hootch," recalled Short. "I laid 50 rounds in there, and Mr. Kerry went in. Rounds were coming everywhere. We were getting fire from both sides of the river. It was a canal. We were receiving fire from the opposite bank, also, and there was no way I could bring my guns to bear on that."

Short said there is "no doubt" that Kerry saved the boat and crew. "That was a him-or-us thing, that was a loaded weapon with a shape charge on it . . . It could pierce a tank. I wouldn't have been here talking to you. I probably prayed more up that creek than a Southern Baptist church does in a month."

Charles Gibson, who served on Kerry's boat that ........"Every day you wake up and say, 'How the hell did we get out of that alive?'" Gibson said. "Kerry was a good leader. He knew what he was doing."

When Kerry returned to his base, his commanding officer, George Elliott, ...................
"When [Kerry] came back from the well-publicized action where he beached his boat in middle of ambush and chased a VC around a hootch and ended his life, when [Kerry] came back and I heard his debrief, I said, 'John, I don't know whether you should be court-martialed or given a medal, court-martialed for leaving your ship, your post,'" Elliott recalled in an interview.

"But I ended up writing it up for a Silver Star, which is well deserved, and I have no regrets or second thoughts at all about that," Elliott said. A Silver Star, which the Navy said is its fifth-highest medal, commends distinctive gallantry in action.

Asked why he had raised the issue of a court-martial, Elliott said he did so "half tongue-in-cheek, because there was never any question I wanted him to realize I didn't want him to leave his boat unattended. That was in context of big-ship Navy my background. A C.O. [commanding officer] never leaves his ship in battle or anything else. I realize this, first of all, it was pretty courageous to turn into an ambush even though you usually find no more than two or three people there. On the other hand, on an operation some time later, down on the very tip of the peninsula, we had lost one boat and several men in a big operation, and they were hit by a lot more than two or three people."

Elliott stressed that he never questioned Kerry's decision to kill the Viet Cong, and he appeared in Boston at Kerry's side during the 1996 Senate race to back up that aspect of Kerry's action. ................

Indeed, the Silver Star citation makes clear that Kerry's performance on that day was both extraordinary and risky. "With utter disregard for his own safety and the enemy rockets," the citation says, Kerry "again ordered a charge on the enemy, beached his boat only 10 feet from the Viet Cong rocket position and personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy . . . The extraordinary daring and personal courage of Lt. Kerry in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire were responsible for the highly successful mission."
Kerry was injured yet again on 13 March 1969, in an action for which he was awarded both a Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart. According to Kerry's Bronze Star citation (signed by Admiral Zumwalt himself):

Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry was serving as an Officer-in-Charge of Inshore Patrol Craft 94, one of five boats conducting a Sealords operation in the Bay Hap River. While exiting the river, a mine detonated under another Inshore Patrol Craft and almost simultaneously, another mine detonated wounding Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry in the right arm. In addition, all units began receiving small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks. When Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry discovered he had a man overboard, he returned upriver to assist. The man in the water was receiving sniper fire from both banks. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry directed his gunners to provide suppressing fire, while from an exposed position on the bow, his arm bleeding and in pain and with disregard for his personal safety, he pulled the man aboard. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry then directed his boat to return to and assist the other damaged boat to safety. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
According to the Boston Globe, this was the only one of Kerry's three Purple Heart injuries that caused him to miss any days of service:

Kerry had been wounded three times and received three Purple Hearts. Asked about the severity of the wounds, Kerry said that one of them cost him about two days of service, and that the other two did not interrupt his duty. "Walking wounded," as Kerry put it.........

U.S. military procedure generally allowed any serviceman who received three Purple Hearts to request reassignment away from a combat zone, Four days after Kerry took his third hit of shrapnel, [Commodore Charles] Horne forwarded a request on Kerry's behalf ........asking that Kerry be reassigned to "duty as a personal aide in Boston, New York, or Washington, D.C." ........ and within a month he had been reassigned as a personal aide and flag lieutenant to Rear Admiral Walter F. Schlech, Jr. with the Military Sea Transportation Service based in Brooklyn, New York.

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Old 03-04-2004, 09:28 AM
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Thanks for the good info PaperAirPlane. This site has whats known about Bush's miliatary "involvement." http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/inside.php?sid=2995
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Old 03-04-2004, 09:43 AM
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Quite a story paperairplane. I still think Kerry needs a new hairdo.

He's a good guy though.



MoocH
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Old 03-04-2004, 12:48 PM
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Old 03-05-2004, 12:51 PM
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A john kerry interview:

"Senator kerry, some questions:"
"Your stance on crime rates? "I'm a Viet Nam Veteran."

"Sen kerry, what will you do on taxes?" "I'm a Viet Nam Veteran"

Sen kerry, your stance on global warming? "I'm all for wind farms....as long as they are not in my backyard. Did I mention I'm a Viet Nam Veteran?"

"Sen. kerry, could you tell us the differences between you and jane fonda?" "She's not a Viet Nam Veteran."

"Sen. kerry, what have you accomplished in your years of being the junior senator of Ma., besides holding Senator kennedy's coat." "The list is long. I donated $108 to charity once. When I needed a parking space for my SUV in front of my Beacon Hill mansion, I called up the fire dept. and demanded they move the fire hydrant. I know how to get things done." Did I mention that I served in Viet Nam?"

"Sen kerry, when you have a party at the mansion, why are there porta pottys on the front lawn?" " Well, teresa cringes at the thought of some common person using her toilet." " The guests really get a kick out of using those biffys."

"Sen kerry, just whose medals DID you throw over the WhiteHouse fence?" " Don't know and don't care. I have the right to throw any veterans medals I choose, I served in Viet Nam."
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Old 03-05-2004, 06:00 PM
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I served in the same River Division Task Force that Kerry did from 1968 to 1970 on the smaller PBRs (Patrol Boat, River). I was the boat electrician and manned the twin 50s up front. my boat captain wasn't stupid enough tp put us in danger...thus we never lost a man. Fire fights almost daily...and no silver star, purple heart or anything but a combat action ribbon.

Good enough for me

I'll not vote for kerry for his protesting and actions after his service.......just my 2cents worth.
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Old 03-05-2004, 06:33 PM
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Interesting site: http://vietnamveteransagainstjohnkerry.com
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Old 03-05-2004, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ets1945
I served in the same River Division Task Force that Kerry did from 1968 to 1970 on the smaller PBRs (Patrol Boat, River). I was the boat electrician and manned the twin 50s up front. my boat captain wasn't stupid enough tp put us in danger...thus we never lost a man. Fire fights almost daily...and no silver star, purple heart or anything but a combat action ribbon.

Good enough for me

I'll not vote for kerry for his protesting and actions after his service.......just my 2cents worth.
I'll second that. If Kerry gets into office there are going to be a lot more terrorist troubles headed our way. To appease the enemy is almost as bad as taking up arms against your country. Wether you agree with that or not, I don't believe Kerry will defend our country like Bush will.
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Old 03-05-2004, 07:20 PM
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It is no suprise the I heard on the news today that Kim Jong ll, dictator of of North Korea has endorsed Kerry!
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Old 03-06-2004, 01:34 AM
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BT74, I tried to open viet nam veterans against Kerry but it won't open. Is there another link?

It will be very difficult to vote for Kerry because there will have to be two places to mark for him, one for and one against. He is ALWAYS on both sides of an issue.


BUSH, BUSH, BUSH!

Al
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Old 03-06-2004, 07:46 AM
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Gr848, I'll try again
http://www.vietnamveteransagainstjohnkerry.com/
If this does not work try going to Google and punch in "against kerry" with the quotation marks(use the Google.com site as some google searches on IPS provider sites don't do a full search) and you should be able to find it on the first page. Pretty interesting.

One more on Hanoi John.........
http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0408/schanberg.php

Last edited by BT74; 03-06-2004 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 03-06-2004, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ets1945
[B]I served in the same River Division Task Force that Kerry did from 1968 to 1970 on the smaller PBRs (Patrol Boat, River).
I was attached to the 544th Boat Platoon at Tan My (WAY up North). We used to run LCMs up and down the river from Hue to the seaport at Tan My.

Not quite as exciting as Swift Boats in the Delta, but I just always found it a bit unnerving to be sitting in a boat on the water with lots of vegetation on either bank....


VOTE BUSH!!!!!!
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Old 03-07-2004, 08:08 PM
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Lotsa class!
http://drudgereport.com/kerry44.htm
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