Some investigation reveals the following Vietnam Era war records for Bush and Kerry. Let’s compare…shall we?
- Silver Star (Verified via DD214)
- Bronze Star (Should have Bronze Combat "V" Device, Verified via DD214)
- Purple Heart (Should have two Gold Star devices for subsequent awards, Verified via DD214)
- Combat Action Ribbon (Verified via DD214)
- Presidential Unit Citation (Verified via DD215, worn above left pocket per Navy regs)
- Navy Unit Commendation (Verified via DD215)
- National Defense Service Medal (Verified via DD214)
- Vietnam Service Medal(Verified via DD214, w/four bronze star devices verified via DD215)
- Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (Verified via DD215)
- Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation (Verified via DD215)
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (Verified via DD215)
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (verified via photograph only)
- Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (verified via photograph only)
When it comes to just plain crass lying, one can’t beat the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Take for example the strange tale of Larry Thurlow, a leader of the Swift Boat Vets, who is claiming Kerry doesn’t deserve his Bronze Star. Kerry earned that citation when he maneuvered his swift boat through enemy fire to save First Lieut. Jim Rassmann, who had been blown off Kerry’s boat by an explosion and was about to die. Raussmann was saved, but Thurlow, who was in his own boat at the scene during the incident, now claims there was no enemy fire at all, and so Kerry should have gotten no medal.
Here’s the weird bit, though. Three men got a Bronze Star citation for bravery in action that day: Kerry, Thurlow, and radarman first class Robert Lambert, a petty officer in the boat captained by Thurlow. The citation for Thurlow’s Bronze Star states that "all units came under small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks." According to the citation, Thurlow "directed accurate suppressing fire at the enemy," and lauds Thurlow’s "coolness, professionalism and courage under fire."
This begs the question: If there was no enemy fire, as Thurlow claims, doesn’t that mean that he does not deserve his Bronze Star any more than Kerry does? Shouldn’t Thurlow give his medal back? And what of radarman first class Robert Lambert? Did Kerry somehow fake Lambert’s claim to the award?
Larry, are you returning you award?
Then there is the great flip-flop of George Elliott, the man who signed the recommendation for Kerry’s Bronze Star and who defended Kerry in 1996 when others raised the claim that he didn’t deserve his Silver Star. Elliot, writing Kerry’s fitness report in 1969, stated, "In a combat environment often requiring independent decisive action, Lt. j.g. Kerry was unsurpassed."
It?was interesting then when?Elliott came out with the Swift Boat Vets to attack Kerry after the convention, stating Kerry lied about his service. He even signed an affidavit on the matter. When the Boston Globe confronted Elliott about his prior remarks and written statements clashing with his new description of events, Elliott beat a rapid retreat, stating that signing the affidavit was "a terrible mistake."
But maybe the best authority on the whole incident was the only other surviving Swift Boat commander who was there that day, William B. Rood. Mr. Rood is now part of the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. Up to now, he’s been refusing to engage in this debate, but I guess was finally fed up with what he describes as, "Kerry’s critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown. The critics have taken pains to say they’re not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us. It’s gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there."
So, the Bush campaign, losing on every other issue, takes the unbelievable tact of going after Kerry’s war record (I guess praying that Fox News would be sure to not compare the two records). Unfortunately, we Americans have allowed it to work before. Please, for the sake of democracy, read Mr. Rood’s story. He was actually there, and then send the Replublicans the message that this sort of crap no longer works, and we won’t be duped.