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"Kerry arrived in-country with a strong anti-Vietnam War bias and a self-serving determination to build a foundation for his political future."
REAR ADMIRAL ROY HOFFMANN, USN (RETIRED) Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Press Conference Washington, D.C., May 4, 2004
Some people believe that John Kerry's military record from some thirty-five years ago makes no difference as he runs for president in 2004. But Kerry's Vietnam record is important because Kerry himself says that it is important. And as the future commander in chief, it's important to the men and women of our Armed forces, and to our country in its War on Terror. Since 1972, Kerry has run a one-trick campaign for every office he has sought. His relatively short military service has been the basis and constant theme upon which he loudly and without reservation proclaims himself a "war hero." He is willing, if not eager, to contrast his supposed military accomplishments against the military records of his opponents, which he has repeatedly belittled with enthusiasm. Kerry spent more time in the 2004 campaign arrayed in a brown leather flight jacket (which we never wore in the ninety-degree heat of Vietnam) and in a variety of other uniforms at political rallies than he ever spent fighting in Vietnam.
Constantly surrounded by a small cast of veterans, opponent after opponent, issue after issue, Kerry runs on his short record of three combat months (plus one training month) in Vietnam thirty-four years ago. He has placed full-page campaign ads in the New York Times with photos of himself receiving a medal. He has spent nearly $50 million on a particularly fraudulent ad portraying Kerry the infantryman stalking unknown foes through the jungle, followed by two speeches from thirty-four years ago. In the 2004 campaign, Kerry has pursued the war-hero theme with a persistent purpose, repeatedly demeaning the purported nonexperience of his opponents, including his eight opponents in the Democratic primary, Vice President Dick Cheney, and of course, President George W. Bush. In the past, Kerry has consistently used the same theme to attack his political opponents: in 1972 against Roger Durkin during the Democratic primary for the congressional seat in Lowell, Massachusetts; in 1984 against liberal Democrat James Shannon in the Massachusetts senatorial race; in 1990 against Republican businessman James Rappaport during Kerry's senatorial reelection campaign; and in 1996 against Republican challenger and former Massachusetts governor William Weld, whom Kerry narrowly beat in a closely contested senate race. Every campaign since 1972 begins and ends with Kerry the "war hero" boasting about his limited and controversial military record as one of his chief qualifications for office.
Most veterans, even those with real war wounds and long histories of service under enemy fire, would find it bizarre to apply for any job on the basis of their war records. That someone with Kerry's record would do so is even more bizarre.
The Antiwar Recruit
John Kerry has often implied that he volunteered for the military right after college. But Kerry petitioned his draft board for a student deferment. At Yale, Kerry's antiwar political views were well known. He was chairman of the Political Union and used his commencement address in 1966 to criticize the foreign policy of President Lyndon Johnson, especially with regard to Vietnam. When he approached his draft board for permission to study for a year in Paris, the draft board refused and Kerry decided to enlist in the Navy. The Navy or the Coast Guard were considered good choices for reluctant young men who figured they were doomed to be drafted. Sailors could get into combat, but the risk of being assigned combat duty was less likely because North Vietnamese and Viet Cong didn't have battleships, submarines, or aircraft carriers.
The top choice was the Navy Reserves where the duty commitment was shorter and a larger proportion of the period could be served stateside on inactive duty.
John Kerry's service record indicates that on February 18, 1966, he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserves, status "inactive," not in the U.S. Navy. These details are conveniently left out of all pro-Kerry biographies. Douglas Brinkley records that Kerry entered Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island; however, again he fails to note that Kerry was seeking to be an officer of the U.S. Naval Reserve.
The First "Tour of Vietnam"
John Kerry's first year of duty, from June 1967 to June 1968, was spent aboard the USS Gridley, a guided-missile frigate. During this year, Kerry experienced no combat. His assignment on board the Gridley is, however, the basis on which Kerry claims to have served "two tours" in Vietnam. Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign describes his service in the following words, which frequently get picked up uncritically by the news media: "After graduating from Yale, Kerry enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Vietnam in 1967. He served two tours of duty and won a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts." A closer examination of his service record, however, shows that the assignment in 1967 was not to Vietnam, but to the Gridley. The guided-missile frigate was in the Pacific and in December 1967 did guard duty for planes operating in the China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin. To say that Kerry was sent to Vietnam in 1967 exaggerates what was actually service on a deep fleet ocean vessel, involving no combat. Indeed, from June 1967 to November 1967, the Gridley operated along the California coast, and on January 2, 1968, the Gridley sailed for Australia and then returned to Long Beach, California on June 8. In other words, the Gridley was in what could be considered a "fighting zone" (still far off the coast of Vietnam) for probably fewer than five weeks while Kerry was aboard; five weeks off the coast of Vietnam could hardly be called a "tour in Vietnam."
Captain James F. Kelly Jr., USN (retired), Kerry's executive officer on the Gridley, remembers Kerry as serious and mature. Kelly even tried to recruit Kerry into a Navy career. His regard for Kerry, however, ended when he learned of the young sailor's antiwar activities. Kelly recently wrote:
While [Kerry] was protesting against the war, many of us were still fighting it. Many of us felt betrayed that one of our own, a decorated hero, would give comfort to the enemy by such actions. Whatever one thinks of the wisdom of becoming involved in that war, two presidents-both Democrats-committed the armed forces they commanded to fight it.
And make no mistake; actions by the likes of [Jane] Fonda and Kerry were damaging to our morale, gave aid and comfort to the forces we were fighting, and altered the eventual outcome in a manner less favorable to the United States than if they had kept their mouths shut. The time for antiwar protests is before the war starts.
Like so many military veterans and most of Kerry's later Swift comrades, Captain Kelly, some thirty-five years later, still has no doubt in his mind that John Kerry's "antiwar activities while our troops were still fighting, dying and being tortured in filthy Vietnam prisons were despicable." For this reason, Kelly has refused to support his ex-shipmate in his campaign to become commander in chief of the United States military forces.
The Swift Boat "Volunteer" Mid-November 1968 to March 17, 1969
The Navy first brought Swift Boats to Vietnam in 1966 to control the coast of Vietnam. The high-speed, 50-foot boats were specifically designed to intercept and inspect all offshore traffic. In addition, they carried mortars to provide offshore fire support. Swift Boats had no armor, and relied solely on their speed and firepower. Each boat had a six-man crew, and the boats operated in small divisions around Vietnam. In the early days, Swifts saw infrequent combat, which is apparently why they attracted Kerry.
Kerry volunteered for service on the Swifts and was selected. Given his extreme opposition to the Vietnam War and his view that it was an immoral enterprise, Kerry's action has always puzzled most Swiftees. But according to a Kerry biography written by Boston Globe reporters, Swift Boats were considered safe at the time: "Kerry also believed a swift boat assignment would keep him away from the frontlines of combat." Indeed, Kerry confirms it himself: "At the time, the boats had very little to do with the war," he wrote in his 1986 contribution to The Vietnam Experience: A War Remembered. "They were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I was going to be doing. Although I wanted to see for myself what was going on, I didn't really want to get involved in the war."
In late 1968, the Swift Boat mission was redefined to root out the enemy hiding in the difficult terrain of the canals and rivers of the Mekong Delta-much more dangerous service for the unarmored Swift Boats. Kerry's voluntary sojourn off the relatively pleasant coast would end. Later, when he was ordered into real combat, he strenuously objected, according to various Swift officers.
Commander Grant Hibbard, USN (retired), Kerry's first commander in Coastal Division 14, put the point succinctly: "Kerry told everybody that he was going to be president one day-you know, the next JFK from Massachusetts. Maybe he just thought Swift Boats would be a safe PT-109."
William Franke, a Swift Boat veteran from Coastal Division 11, where Kerry would be assigned after his training at Cam Ranh Bay, had similar feelings about Kerry:
Some amongst us further object to what we consider to be Kerry's belligerent disrespect for duty and the military. While in Vietnam, Kerry was an outspoken critic to the point of being characterized by some as a perpetual whiner. He was constantly objecting to the war, stating that the U.S. had no business being there and the missions were not something that military forces should be engaged in. He objected that he had to serve in the canals, repeatedly demanding to be transferred back to the much safer duty of coastal patrol. He objected to the various operations, complaining that they were poorly thought out. He objected to the performance of the officers who were his senior, asserting that these missions were only designed to gain fame and career advancement for them.
On November 17, 1968, Kerry arrived in Vietnam and reported for duty to Coastal Squadron One, Coastal Division 14, at Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam. Cam Ranh, a French tourist town with a well-protected deep-water harbor and wide, beautiful white beaches, was generally regarded as the safest place in Vietnam. For this reason, American presidents visiting Vietnam would often stay there. Kerry spent one month of his four-month Vietnam tour training in Cam Ranh Bay.
Interestingly, from his very first days in Vietnam, Kerry kept a journal that he showed to no one. One of his first Vietnam entries involves what he called "a cruel little game." In this antiwar entry, Kerry described a fisherman quaking with fear while being interrogated by the division commander and several officers. Kerry wrote that they kept running "their index fingers across their throat." According to Grant Hibbard, the division commander, and other Cam Ranh officers, this entry is a complete lie. The officers involved in this story could not speak Vietnamese, and prisoners were turned over to Vietnamese military authorities for interrogation.
Since the beginning of his tour, Kerry had a habit of wildly exaggerating his experience in his journal and in his accounts of his experience. Cam Ranh was a safe place, and being an officer in training was hardly exciting. In letters home, Kerry invents a nonexistent adventure that he repeats in Tour of Duty. He explains that after a few patrols in rough water at Cam Ranh, officers "come back pissing red and that several people have broken bones." None of the Swiftees from Cam Ranh remember any incident of this kind. Division commander Grant Hibbard brands it a lie, since there were no records or memory of any such incident in the year that Kerry was there.
These exaggerated entries in his journal would serve as the basis of Kerry's Vietnam stories for the next thirty years. The theme of these stories is almost always the same: Kerry portrays himself as a noble war hero who has no choice but to struggle mightily against the many military villains who surrounded him from the top down in the United States Army and Navy.
Kerry has refused to execute Standard Form 180, which would release to the public all his military and medical records. He has not done so despite the demands of more than 250 of his fellow veterans. Kerry has also refused to publicly release his Vietnam journal or the totality of his films and photos from Vietnam. He has allowed a peek at those records only to his biographer, Douglas Brinkley, and journalists he considers friendly. Moreover, only a doctor selected by the campaign has been allowed to view Kerry's medical records.
But, as we'll see, there's a lot to discover about Kerry's military service.
Excerpted from Unfit for Command by John E. O'Neill Jerome R. Corsi Copyright © 2004 by John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
I looked this book up after reading Guilty, by Ann Coulter. I know the book to be correct, due to Ms. Coulter's evidence. John Kerry was indeed Unfit for Command and the American people knew that when they elected Bush, thanks in part to the truths told in this book. The Swift Boat Vets should be honered, not slandered.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 3, 2008
This book is full of half-truths and flat out lies. It was obviously written with an agenda that pushed journalistic integrity to the background. Even for a person who dislikes John Kerry this book is a joke. Do yourself a favor and read something that at least makes an attempt to be factually acurate.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2006
As a fan of John Kerry I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. First off, I don't know why a fellow vet has attempted to discredit another so harshly. Jealousy maybe? What ever the case the book was well written, but I don't know how much of this book can be taken as the truth. It's one big rambling on from a few disgrunteled former military kids.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 22, 2005
I was given this by a friend. I read it against my better judgment. This is intended to be one-sided and succeeds. But it fails to deal with the dozens of eyewitnesses that contradict it, the official Navy records that contradict it, the statement of Republican Senator John Warner who was Secretary of the Navy and awarded Kerry the Silver Star and sticks by the award and the extraordinary 'affidavit' of a Mr. Thurlow, a key document here. In his affidavit Thurlow sswears there were no bullets fired in one particular action. But it was later revealed that Mr. Thurlow got a Bronze Star for that same action and the citation, which Mr. Thurlow admits he has and knows about, declared he had been under constant fire during the action. Throw in the dubious background of the authors (one a religious bigot, the other an Annapolis grad who somehow became a fulltime law student at Texas 3 years after graduation during wartime when the normal commitment to service was 4-5 years, and you have more mythology of the Right created for profit and sold without regard to truthfullness.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 8, 2005
This book presents a pretty convincing case if you only look at what was written here. It ignores some major issues, however, including the fact that several of the people who served with Kerry originally praised him but now mysteriously have changed their mind. Division Commander Grant Hill wrote positive evaluations of Kerry and Commander George Elliot is the one who submitted Kerry for his Silver Star. The very fact that these people have completely reversed their positions discredits them as reliable sources. What are we to believe? The only member of SBVT who was even present at the action for which Kerry earned his Silver Star, Clayton Lee, has said that he did indeed earn it. Additionally, the only member of Kerry's boat crew who is a member of SBVT is Stephen Gardner and he was not present for any of the incidents for which Kerry was decorated. This book reads like a true history account but is in fact trumped-up, partisan slander aimed at discrediting Kerry because of his publicly expressed anti-Vietnam War views.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2005
This book wasn't entirely what I expected, but that was a good thing. I went into the book expecting to read all the things I had heard during the campaign, good and bad for John Kerry. But I wanted to read it as an objective reader, and I'm glad I did, in fact, finally read it. Let's face it, as with other political books, if you like John Kerry, you won't like this book and vice versa. But I do believe there is value in readers seeing the information for themselves. Pro or con Kerry, reading the book will provide a sound basis for producing a well-thought, sound perspective on John Kerry's personal activities during and after his VietNam service. The book does a good job of providing an in depth look at some of Mr. Kerry's actions, including those that have not been covered in the media. It's a good way for an independent observer to understand what all the controversy is all about.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2004
You can believe the 60 men who served with John Kerry or not. But one thing no one can deny: John Kerry, having been awarded 3 purple hearts, a silver star and a bronze star in his 3 1/2 months of active duty, is the most decorated war veteran in American military history! That's fact. And never a day in a military hospital! If you believe the truth according to Kerry, then I may I suggest a stamp in his honor -- or better yet, let's get George Washington off the dollar bill: Kerry is a much bigger hero. Even Geo Washington was not as decorated as Kerry.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 26, 2004
Posted August 26, 2004
What a fantastic book that outlines the truth about Kerry. His running mate reminded us all to ask the people who served with Kerry about his ability to lead and having read the numerous accounts of his fellow servicement it is clear that he is indeed Unfit to Command.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 26, 2004
The lies spread by Kerry are actually not lies, while his service time in country may be short, the official navy record doesn't lie. The authors should have included the official record, except it totally destroys the claims they make. Why did those interviewed who now condemn him, support him in the past, some as recent as last year. This is political fodder of the worst kind. There is no evidence to back these claims, there is contradicting evidence of what the authors and interviewees themselves have said. If you believe this book, you have already made up your mind.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2004
President Richard Nixon initiated a smear campaign against a 'young war hero' who had joined the anti- Vietnam war movement. He also chose his as his own spokesman the pro-administration veteran John O'Neill. This book claims John O'Neill and the contributors served with John Kerry while the truth is very few served with him or had any personel contact with him. The books content largely appears to consist of opionions of people who resented his stance on the Vietnam war and the book needs to be read carefully to discern the voices of those who actually served with John Kerry in Vietnam.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2004
Posted August 24, 2004
It seems that this book has much more verifiable evidence compared to what Mr. Kerry presented when he testified before the Fulbright Committee. Whatever your political leanings, evidence talks and allegations walk...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2004
For those on both sides of the political spectrum, or those firmly in the middle, this is a MUST READ! Before forming a firm opinion on all you're hearind about in the media, you MUST read this one for yourself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2004
This book is very well written. I'm a veteran and the this book is clearly factual. As an independent this book helped me decide who was telling the truth. I could not put this book down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2004
I learned in my history classes at the University of New Orleans, that historians must use a variety of sources in their writting, interviews from multiple participants, offical reports, etc, and not to rely on only one source. This book is well documented, relys on multiple testimonies, accurante in its details, and informative. A must read for the undecided voter.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 12, 2004
Cris Mathew's hardball report with John O'Neil, the co author of this book, was way off the mark. Chris insisted that just because Mr. Kerry's awards were documented by the Navy that knowone could dispute their authenticity. I suppose just because Jayson Blair wrote 36 palgerized articles for the NY Times everything he said was gospel until the truth was uncovered. I'm not 100% convinced that the whole truth was exposed in this well written book but I will say that it opened my eyes. Colin Powell wrote in 'My American Journey' that his Vietnam medals would have meant more to him in a war where medals were not distributed so indiscriminately. He goes on to say, and I quote, 'Awards were piled on to a point where writing the justisfying citation became a minor art form.' No matter what your political affiliation this is a must read book. Decide for yourself but at least give the 250+ Swiftboat sailors a fighting chance to get their point across. Isn't that what America is all about.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 10, 2004
This is a great read. Chapter 3 - The Purple Heart Hunter is devastating to Kerry and shows him up for what he really is: a self-serving liar who can't even keep his own stories straight. Far from being a fantasy of Republican hacks, this book speaks of Kerry for people like me. I was in Vietnam 19 months (USMC helicopters), and Kerry slandered me and all his other comrades-in-arms. Most of the despicable things in this book are proven by Kerry's own words; there is no dispute, because he contradicts himself so often. The prospective reader should know that this book is endorsed by almost all - some 250+ - of the Swift Boat Vets still living. Also, saying these men's opinions are invalid because they weren't actually on his boat is ridiculous. These men ate, slept and fought together, and they know Kerry and his actions in Vietnam very well. I highly recommend this book for those who want to know the REAL John Kerry.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2004
They give their names and titles. They say up front that they were there or not there. They put their words in writing with sworn affidavits. They tell an interesting story of Swift Boats (whether it be politically or truth motivated). A good fast read worth your time if you wish to hear another view of history from the people who lived it. They ask you to prove them incorrect. Read it before you condemn it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2004
VERY INTERESTING!!! As a recent Navy vet w/ some experience in small craft, coastal warfare, I found this book compelling. The issue comes down to this: this book lists lots of facts and cites a great deal of documentation. If they, the authors and concurring veterans, were all a bunch of liars, how come the Kerry camp can not refute the facts? If Kerry wants to make his military service a central feature of his election campaign, a book like this is both justified and deserving of serious attention.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.