I decided to look into the people speaking in the advertisement and here are the things that a few quick searches turned up:
George Elliott: “John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.”
Tuesday's event was of a higher calibre than seen earlier in this campaign because it included nearly all of Mr Kerry's former commanders, and
several former allies.
One of those officers, the former lieutenant commander George Elliott, supported Mr Kerry during his 1996 Senate campaign, and Mr Hurley said he had
heartily praised the navy lieutenant during a 1969 review.
Note: What has changed between 1996 and now?
"In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action LTJG Kerry was unsurpassed," wrote one of Kerry's commanding officers,
Lieutenant Commander George Elliott. "He constantly reviewed tactics and lessons learned in river operations and applied his experience at every
opportunity. . . . LTJG Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group. His bearing and appearance are above reproach."
After leaving that division, Kerry went on to command six-man swift boats. One of the evaluations from that period says that Kerry, in an event during
what was supposed to be Christmas truce, "effectively suppressed enemy fire and is unofficially credited with 20 enemy killed in action." The report
was signed by two of Kerry's commanders: George Elliott and Joseph Streuli. But both said in telephone interviews yesterday that they did not recall
"That number is so high I just don't recall anyone coming back and saying we got 20 of the enemy," Elliott said, adding that the timing of the
fighting meant it would have happened when Streuli oversaw Kerry. Streuli, however, said, "I just don't remember it."
The Globe has previously described the event, quoting a Kerry crewmate who said the crewmate had killed an old man in the crossfire and citing reports
that two South Vietnamese allies were wounded or killed and a machine-gun nest manned by a dozen Viet Cong was silenced. Kerry provided the Globe last
year with a lengthy diary entry about the event. It describes the firefight, but it does not mention 20 enemy being killed.
Note: Article dated April 22, 2004. The last segment appears to confirm statements about the killing of innocents by his crewmates.
Some critics have cited remarks at the time by George Elliott, Kerry's division commander, for sparking questions about Kerry's actions. After the
battle, Elliott says he cracked "tongue-in-cheek" that he didn't know whether to court-martial Kerry or give him a medal. But in a recent
interview, he was clear: "This was an exemplary action. There's no question about it."
In an evaluation written in late 1969, Elliott said Kerry's decisiveness was "unsurpassed" and he was an "acknowledged leader in his peer group.
His bearing and appearance are above reproach."
Note: Article Posted 4/12/2004 10:14 PM, Updated 4/13/2004 11:36 PM
When Kerry returned to his base, his commanding officer, George Elliott, raised an issue with Kerry: the fine line between whether the action merited
a medal or a court-martial.
"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."
Note: George Elliott wrote Kerry up for a Silver Star.
Al French: “I served with John Kerry…He is lying about his record.”
Note: No specific information could be found about Al French other than the fact that he does appear in the photograph with Kerry seen here:
, perhaps he is simply a “me too” veteran to bolster the body count. More information about what
specific lie he is accusing Kerry of would be useful information.
Louis Letson: “I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart, because I treated him for that injury.”
Notes: Letson did not serve on a swift boat with Kerry, he simply treated him for his first “wounding.”
Kerry was treated for the wound at a medical facility in Cam Ranh Bay. The doctor who treated Kerry, Louis Letson, is today a retired general
practitioner in Alabama. Letson says he remembers his brief encounter with Kerry 35 years ago because "some of his crewmen related that Lt. Kerry had
told them that he would be the next JFK from Massachusetts." Letson says that last year, as the Democratic campaign began to heat up, he told friends
that he remembered treating one of the candidates many years ago. In response to their questions, Letson says, he wrote down his recollections of the
time. (Letson says he has had no contacts with anyone from the Bush campaign or the Republican party.) What follows is Letson's memory, as he wrote
“I have a very clear memory of an incident which occurred while I was the Medical Officer at Naval Support Facility, Cam Ranh Bay.
John Kerry was a (jg), the OinC or skipper of a Swift boat, newly arrived in Vietnam. On the night of December 2, he was on patrol north of Cam Ranh,
up near Nha Trang area. The next day he came to sick bay, the medical facility, for treatment of a wound that had occurred that night.
The story he told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight,
receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that his injury resulted from this enemy action.
Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on
shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.
That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.
What I saw was a small piece of metal sticking very superficially in the skin of Kerry's arm. The metal fragment measured about 1 cm. in length and
was about 2 or 3 mm in diameter. It certainly did not look like a round from a rifle.
I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did not require
probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.
The wound was covered with a bandaid. “
Note: I do not have a “very clear memory” regarding events in my life 30 years prior, do you? An interesting thing to note is that the doctor refers
to “some of his crew” and then refers to the source as “the crewman.” This appears to be a discrepancy of quantity in this doctor’s very clear
memory. Kerry was awarded the Purple Heart by the 28th of February 1969. The date of the wounding is placed on December 2, 1968. An interesting
question arises: If there was no enemy fire, why would Kerry fire at a nearby shore?
Regarding Letson's recollection of Kerry's wound, Michael Meehan, a Kerry spokesman, noted that a different person, J.C. Carreon, had signed the
"sick call sheet" summarizing treatment of the wound, and asked, "Who is this guy? How do we know that he was the doctor who treated him?"
Letson described a "small piece of metal sticking very superficially in the skin of Kerry's arm. Letson said he "simply removed the piece of
metal" with forceps.
Meehan questioned Letson's role, saying a J.C. Carreon signed Kerry's medical report of the wound. "This gentleman is not the man who is on the
report," he said.
Letson said that Carreon, a lower-ranked "hospitalman," was "present at the time and he, in fact, made the entry into Lt. Kerry's medical
Kerry has said he was wounded by a piece of shrapnel as he and his crew engaged Vietcong fleeing on a beach. Kerry has said he was uncertain where the
shrapnel came from.
The U.S. military's regulations for issuance of a Purple Heart require that an injury must be received during "action against an enemy of the United
Lt. Cmdr. Grant Hibbard, Kerry's immediate superior, said he doubted Kerry deserved the first of the three Purple Hearts he was awarded during his
four months in Vietnam:
"The briefing of some members of the crew the morning after revealed that they had not received enemy fire," Hibbard said. "And yet Lt. j.g. Kerry
informed me of a wound, he showed me a scratch on his arm and a piece of shrapnel in his hand that appeared to be from one of our own M-79s [grenade
launcher]. It was later reported to me that Lt. Kerry had fired an M-79 and it had exploded off the adjacent shoreline."
Hibbard's doubts are shared by Louis Letson, the physician who treated Kerry for his wound at the Cam Ranh Bay medical facility:
Note: Letson states that one of Kerry’s crewman said that Kerry fired a mortar at close range. While it would be understandable that a doctor might
confuse a grenade launcher with a mortar, it would be unlikely that a crewman would. Hibbard states that he believes the wound was caused by a
grenade launcher and it probably was. This raises the question: Did one of Kerry’s crewmen really tell the doctor that the wound came from a mortar
or is this perhaps a lapse in the doctor’s “very clear memory” that he is so adamant about? One would assume that both the doctor and Hibbard both
garnered their information from the crew and yet their accounts do not seem to match.
General Notes on John Kerry’s first “wounding”: While copies of the casualty reports regarding Kerry’s other two woundings are displayed on his
) the report for the incident concerning his first “wounding” is
conspicuously absent. I am not familiar with the process of the generation of this paperwork and will not speculate on why it is absent but it does
appear a bit suspicious.
Van Odell: “John Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star. I know, I was there, I saw what happened.”
Note: This fellow is a peculiar case indeed. He makes perhaps the most vicious accusation in the advertisement and yet is almost totally absent from
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth website. I have not yet found any information that says he was involved with Kerry’s unit. The only place that I
have been able to find his name mentioned on the website is in the (lengthy) signature list of one of the letters. It can be viewed at the following
As far as I know, there have been no other people seriously questioning
Kerry’s Bronze Star, it seems that his first Purple Heart is the medal of most dispute. The Bronze Star was awarded to Kerry for his rescue of Jim
Rassmann. What lie Odell is referring to in this situation is quite a mystery and seems that this is likely just political sniping buried in a place
where they had hoped nobody would notice.
Jack Chenoweth: "His account of what happened and what actually happened are the difference between night and day."
Note: Chenoweth is another interesting case; he does not claim to have served with Kerry. He also appears to be absent from the Swift Boat Veterans
for Truth except for his name on the same letter that Odell’s appears on (www.swiftvets.com...
) and of course
his appearance in the advertisement. His accusation is pretty nondescript and could theoretically be applied to almost anyone. In fact, while the
advertisement seems to lead one to believe that he is talking about John Kerry, there is really no proof that he is. It seems rather convenient that
he makes general comments that are impossible to argue against due to lack of substance, and yet is able to use them to throw mud at John Kerry.
Roy Hoffman: "John Kerry has not been honest."
In charge of the campaign, dubbed Operation Sealords, was a figure straight out of Catch-22, Capt. Roy Hoffman. According to Brinkley, Hoffman
"sought to convince his Swift boat skippers to do whatever it took to notch splashy victories in the Mekong Delta and thereby get him promoted." Up
until Hoffman's arrival, Swift boat crews had broken the monotony of routine offshore patrols by dashing up the Mekong Delta distributaries, in areas
swarming with Viet Cong, with guns blazing, just for sport. To Hoffman, it was a lot more than that--seeing in such theatrical operations his path to
success and glory, he made those hell-for-leather dashes the key part of the little boats' mission.
Kerry came almost immediately to understand--as did almost everybody assigned to the Swift boats--that there was no point to these mad runs. The boats
had no armor to protect them from enemy fire. They were accompanied by no infantry, save for occasional Navy SEALs hitching rides. Without infantry
support, there was no chance of occupying Viet Cong territory or running down significant numbers of VC soldiers. The boats' engines were so noisy
that when the wind was right they could be heard coming from three miles away, and, perhaps for that reason, had enormous trouble running down junks
and sampans infiltrating weapons to the enemy. "For anyone wanting to smuggle contraband, we actually made the task easier," Kerry confided in his
journal. "All they had to do was hide in a mangrove or in a small canal until we had passed by." The fact is, Kerry confessed, in all the time he
served in his two Swift boats in Vietnam, he and his men never tracked down any contraband--not so much as a single rifle cartridge.
Note: The impression that I get is that the swift boat program was Roy Hoffman’s baby and he did not like John Kerry defaming his command. While I
have been unable to locate any of Hoffman’s opinions regarding Kerry’s performance prior to Kerry’s discharge, he certainly has had a lot to say about
it since. It seems like Hoffman is harboring a grudge against Kerry that is unrelated to his performance while in service.
Adrian Lonsdale: "And he lacks the capacity to lead."
One of Kerry's fellow patrol boat skippers, Wade Sanders, defended Kerry and compared the statements of Kerry's commanders to the investigations of
suspected communists by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, saying the commanders should be asked, ''Have you no decency?"
The senator's campaign has long weathered criticism from some Vietnam veterans over Kerry's actions in Vietnam and as an antiwar leader, but
yesterday's event was unprecedented because it included nearly all of his commanding officers. Two of those officers, former lieutenant commander
George Elliott and former Coast Guard captain Adrian Lonsdale, stood by Kerry's side when questions were raised during the 1996 Senate campaign about
whether Kerry deserved the Silver Star.
Note: The comment spoken by Lonsdale is easily proven false. Kerry demonstrated that he has the capacity to lead by simply being the leader of a
swift boat. Note that Lonsdale did not state that Kerry was a poor leader; he stated he lacked the capacity. Apparently Lonsdale believed in Kerry’s
capacity enough to defend him during his run for a seat in the Senate. What has changed his opinion so drastically since then? Were there more than
six zeroes on it?
Larry Thurlow: "When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry."
"John was a master at looking out for John," says Larry Thurlow, a fellow boat commander. "John has never been bashful about saying, 'Man, I'm a
war hero.' "
Yet, except for one crewmate, even those who felt betrayed by Kerry for later leading Vietnam Veterans Against the War and who call themselves Bush
supporters acknowledge that he showed courage under fire. "He was extremely brave, and I wouldn't argue that point," Thurlow says.
Rassmann also dismisses the idea of a cautious Kerry. He says he is alive today because of Kerry's courage during a vicious battle in March 1969. The
special forces soldier had been blown off PCF-94 by a mine that also injured Kerry's right arm. Swimming in the river while being strafed from both
banks, Rassmann was convinced he was about to die before Kerry's boat returned. As the soldier struggled to climb scramble nets draped over the
boat's bow, Kerry reached down with his uninjured arm and pulled him on board.
"He was frankly nuts coming up to the bow and exposing himself" to the barrage of bullets and mortars, Rassmann says. The two met in an emotional
reunion in Iowa in January after Rassmann called the campaign and offered to appear at an event. It became a pivotal moment in Kerry's comeback,
which culminated days later in the state's caucuses.
Rassmann, a Republican, now works on Kerry's campaign. But a few other Vietnam veterans have spread stories — some of which Thurlow admits are
"hearsay" — on conservative Web sites.
Note: Thurlow admits that Kerry is brave and was even present when he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull Rassmann out of the water. Rassmann’s
chips were down and John Kerry came through for him. It really seems like Thurlow is making a baseless accusation. While Thurlow may resent Kerry’s
sell aggrandizing nature, it does not make it alright to lie about him.
Robert Elder: "I served with John Kerry...John Kerry is no war hero."
Note: Unless Robert Elder is attempting to argue that there are no heroes in war, he has a very tough case to make. It seems that he is mixing up his
dislike of what Kerry did after the war with his opinion of Kerry as a soldier and he is using that dislike as a reason to smear Kerry’s record.
Certainly Kerry was highly decorated, and most medals are not awarded for sitting around and doing nothing.
Grant Hibbard: "He betrayed all his shipmates ... he lied before the Senate."
The campaign did post an evaluation of Kerry by Hibbard. Hibbard's evaluation was brief and incomplete because Hibbard oversaw Kerry's service for
only about two weeks. Kerry's duty under Hibbard included "counter infiltration operations against Viet Cong forces. Engaged in combat operations."
Hibbard marked a few performance categories, noting that Kerry's initiative, cooperation, and bearing ranked among the top few. But unlike other
evaluators who wrote about specific actions by Kerry, Hibbard did not do so, providing this explanation: "The short period LTJG Kerry was attached to
Coast Division 14 prevents further evaluation."
Note: While Kerry’s testimony could definitely be seen as a betrayal of his shipmates, Hibbard’s accusation of lying before the Senate is a pretty
serious one. Note that Hibbard only oversaw Kerry for about two weeks. With only two weeks’ oversight of Kerry, Hibbard is in no place to judge what
Kerry did not see during his entire time in Vietnam.
Shelton White: "John Kerry betrayed the men and women he served with in Vietnam."
Note: Despite not being in the notorious photograph of John Kerry’s comrades, (www.swiftvets.com...
) Shelton White
probably makes one of the only true, legitimate statements about John Kerry to be found in this advertisement. After all, even if the people being
betrayed were guilty of killing innocents, it still counts as a betrayal. An interesting thing to note is that Shelton White even claims that Kerry
betrayed the women he served with. This is an interesting assertion since any allegations of war crimes would likely not even be applicable to the
women Kerry served with. This may be another case of present day opinions and views intruding upon an objective look at history.
Joe Ponder: "He dishonored his country ... he most certainly did."
On the afternoon of November 24, 1968, while on a SEALORDS mission up the Song Bo De River, I was seriously wounded in my right leg by enemy machine
gun fire, while I was returning fire from my battle station, as the twin .50 gunner, aboard PCF-31. Our boat and 4 other PCF's who were in our group
were ambushed in a vicious attack from both banks of the river by a very large force of enemy troops. Our Helmsman, Bob McGowan, Quartermaster 3rd
Class was also wounded, in his hand, by flying shrapnel. The Officer in Charge of PCF-72, James Harwood, LTJG, instantly lost one of his legs from
enemy machine gun fire. Our flotilla of boats were able to fight their way back down the river to the open sea. We then rendezvoused with the LST,
USS Washoe County, which was on station about a mile off the coast from the mouth of the Bo De River. The three of us who were wounded were hoisted
aboard the Washoe County for medical attention and shortly thereafter medevaced to the U.S. Army's 29th Medical Evacuation Hospital for further
Note: Joe Ponder was out of the war the same month Kerry entered it. They apparently never saw any action together. While the advertisement hopes to
imply that Joe Ponder knew John Kerry from the war, he likely only knew of his testimony to the Senate. Ponder’s opinions on that testimony are of
course his own but the danger here is in falling for what the advertisement would have you believe; that Kerry and Ponder are old chums from way
Bob Hildreth: "I served with John Kerry ... John Kerry cannot be trusted."
Note: Hildreth did not serve on the same boat as Kerry and no information has been found regarding whether they ever saw combat together. Likely
Hildreth is another “me too” veteran trotted out to bear witness against John Kerry’s character without ever having gotten a chance to know him.
[edit on 5-8-2004 by Lerkur]