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Spinasity on Kerry's War Record
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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2004 07:14:28 pm    Post subject: Spinasity on Kerry's War Record Reply with quote


Kerry's service record distorted (8/5)
By Brendan Nyhan

In his speech to the Democratic convention, vice presidential nominee
Senator John Edwards, D-NC, was the latest figure to distort John Kerry's
service record in Vietnam:

When John Kerry graduated college, he volunteered for military service. He
volunteered to go to Vietnam and to captain a swift boat, one of the most
dangerous duties you could have. And as a result he was wounded and honored
for his valor.
Like many others who have made the same claim, Edwards' implication is
misleading. As Chris Suellentrop pointed out on Slate, Kerry volunteered for
swift boat duty before it became so dangerous. Here's how the Boston Globe
recounted the story in its multi-part series on Kerry:

Kerry initially hoped to continue his service at a relatively safe distance
from most fighting, securing an assignment as "swift boat" skipper. While
the 50-foot swift boats cruised the Vietnamese coast a little closer to the
action than the Gridley had come, they were still considered relatively
"I didn't really want to get involved in the war," Kerry said in a
little-noticed contribution to a book of Vietnam reminiscences published in
1986. "When I signed up for the swift boats, they had very little to do with
the war. They were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I
was going to be doing."
But two weeks after he arrived in Vietnam, the swift boat mission changed --
and Kerry went from having one of the safest assignments in the escalating
conflict to one of the most dangerous. 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.
Kerry's biography on his campaign website (which Edwards echoed almost
directly) promotes this confusion, citing the Globe's description of the
revised mission of the swift boats and implying it was what the
Massachusetts senator volunteered for:

In 1968, John Kerry began his second tour of duty, and volunteered to serve
on a swift boat, one of the most dangerous assignments of the war. Swift
boats patrolled the narrow inlets and canals around the Mekong Delta 'to
draw fire and smoke out the enemy,' according to the Boston Globe."
In his convention speech, former President Bill Clinton also obscured what
Kerry thought he was volunteering for, saying, "When they sent those
swiftboats up the river in Vietnam and they told them their job was to draw
hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and
fight, John Kerry said: Send me."

And some journalists have also gotten the facts wrong. For instance, Bennett
Roth of the Houston Chronicle, who wrote that "Kerry enlisted in the Navy
after graduating from Yale in 1966 and requested to command a Swift boat,
one of the more dangerous assignments during the war."

Despite Kerry's decorated service record, the circumstances surrounding his
request for swift boat duty should not be mischaracterized.

Johne (Phy) Cook | Overlord, Ray Gun Revival
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