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Remember? It was after the Vietnam War, and Kerry came home a whining, anti-war vet. He returned from Vietnam in April 1969, having won early transfer out of conflict. He had joined a group called Veterans Against the War. On April 22, 1971, sympathetically clad in his green fatigues and Silver Star and Purple Heart ribbons, the long-haired, 27-year-old Kerry sat at the witness table of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which ironically he would eventually chair. He gave a speech that defined him and made possible his political career. TV cameras lining the walls whirled.
The big news networks and liberal newspapers had unprecedented persuasive powers to influence public opinion. Little has changed in liberal media coverage over the years. They used their power to support returning vet John Kerry’s repulsive picture of American veterans as misfits, drug addicts and baby killers.
Kerry spoke of what other returned veterans had told him at anti-war rallies—of frightful war crimes, purportedly committed in Southeast Asia. Crimes “committed on a day-to-day basis with full awareness of officers at all levels of command,” testified Kerry. “They told of stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads…blown up bodies, razed villages in the fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan…poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside…We are angry because we feel we have been used in the worse fashion by the Administration of this country….”
When Senator Kerry ran for president in 2004, that became the catalyst for a major political move by Vietnam veterans who had long resented his skewed testimony. During Kerry’s candidacy, his war record gained wide public attention in TV and the book “Unfit for Command, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” It questioned his military record and circumstances linked to the award of his combat medals. The swift boat was a fast naval patrol boat. Several members of the swift boat vets served in the same unit as Kerry. Other members included one of Kerry’s former commanding officers. They alleged that Kerry’s Purple Heart and Silver Star were undeserved. They questioned Kerry’s other medals and his truthfulness in testimony about the war. Former swift boat commander Larry Thurlow criticized Kerry’s Bronze Star award. Thurlow, together with other swift boat members, alleged Kerry’s citation for bravery under fire was false in that neither Kerry nor any others were under hostile fire. He gave a sworn statement about the incident. Kerry himself wrote the after-action report about the incident.
Kerry’s Silver Star also was questioned by George Elliott, Kerry’s former commanding officer and a member of the Swift Boat Veterans, although he had second thoughts about it later. He said it was based on unspecified sources.
Whether Kerry’s congressional testimony was false or the awarding of all his medals was absurd remains somewhat in question. There is no question, however, of the soundness of Kerry’s judgment when he picked John Edwards to be his running-mate in the 2004 presidential race. Edwards was recently indicted on charges he violated federal campaign finance laws.
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