Skip to comments.More on Kerry's Medals...
Posted on 03/10/2004 4:02:39 PM PST by Interesting Times
There are some aspects of John Kerry's service in Vietnam which, for me, do not add up. I have seen other articles raising the same questions, but I have been unable to track down the original authors. These observations are mine, and I was there.
I commanded an Army LCM-8 in the Infantry support role in Vietnam, 1968-69. At 73 feet, 65 tons light (120tons laden), I could easily have carried a "Swift" boat as cargo. This was a Sergeant's (E-5) command in the Army. We were tasked to carry infantry on many occasions, throughout the RungSat Special zone west toward the Parrot's Beak, from many units, both US and ARVN. Eventually my 34 boat and SGT Phil Layton's 17 boat were attached semi-permanently, for several months, to the 199th Light Infantry Bde, operating in the "Pineapple area" west of Saigon, up the Vam Co Dong, and to the west of it.
The "Swift" boats, unarmored and unable to carry many troops, were tasked with offshore interdiction and maintaining river superiority in the larger rivers. They did good work, and were frequently engaged, but they typically did not work close-in. The Navy PBR campaign in the smaller rivers and streams is well known, but they, too could not carry troops. That task was carried out by the converted LCM-6s of the MRF, and on a smaller scale, by our LCM-8s attached to the 199th LIB and other units. We lived with the Infantry, supported them, maneouvered them (I could carry a full company), and extracted them if they got into trouble. We would have known of any such widespread atrocities as alleged by Kerry, and in 15 months, I saw or heard of none. We knew our rules of engagement. I have personally received fire from a village and did not return it, as that was exactly what the NVA wanted us to do.
Some of my questions are as follows:
- Purple Hearts; Kerry was awarded three Purple Hearts, yet his records reportedly show no loss of duty time. I have a Purple Heart. I was hit in the posterior with a dime-sized piece of 81mm frag, which travelled 5 inches, and was surgically removed at Bn. Aid. I could walk without problems, and voluntarily returned to the boat in a few days, but the medical report called for two weeks limited duty. In the 199th LIB, you didn't get a PH for a minor piece of frag extracted by the squad medic and covered with a band-aid, or every man in the Brigade would have about six.
- Early Out; Kerry then invoked a Naval Reg allowing an early out for those three Purple Hearts. I wonder how he told his crew. "Hey, guys, I'm going home, enjoy your next eight months." Real morale builder. Real loyalty.
- Silver Star/Bronze Star; I worked with some very active, engaged units, and have never heard of so much hardware being collected so quickly, and for comparitively "everyday" actions. For example, notwithstanding my boat's NINE watertight compartments, the NVA sank me in the Song Ben Luc with two rounds of recoilless rifle fire in an ambush. SGT Phil Layton, behind me, immediately dropped his bow ramp and drove INTO A KNOWN AMBUSH to push my sinking boat out of the kill zone. He was not written up for any award for this action, it simply wasn't sufficiently out of the ordinary in that unit. I stand in awe of the doings of some of the men of the Brigade who never received an award of any kind. They figure the CIB covers it. I guess it does.
Additionally, in later years, Major General Frederic E. Davison told me that he became so frustrated when in command of the Brigade, upon sending up reccomendations for the Silver Star or higher, only to have them downgraded to ARCOM-V, that he began awarding the Bronze Star-V, which was his highest authorized direct award, even when he felt a higher award was warranted. (SGT Layton later received one such, for another action.)
- Kerry's SS Action; As I understand it, his boat was fired upon by a B-40 (Chinese copy of a Soviet RPG), and Kerry's Fifty Cal. gunner returned fire, hitting the NVA gunner, whereupon Kerry ran the boat on the beach, jumped off, chased and shot the Enemy with an M-16, and returned with the empty launcher. Had I ever made so many bonehead mistakes in an action, I would have had a VERY uncomfortable interview with the Battalion Commander, who would have busted me to WAC apprentice, for starters.
1 - Swift and PBR doctrine would have been to turn away from a B-40, as they had the speed to open the range rapidly. We would have turned toward it, as we were slower, and the ramp was the strongest part of the boat.
2 - In my experience, a person hit by a Fifty doesn't get up. (I had two) The "high powered" AK-47 threw a 125 grain bullet at about 2400 fps, the Fifty a 700 grain bullet at 2900 fps. Do the math. Kinetic energy equals one-half the mass times the square of the velocity.
3 - I have never heard of an NVA B-40 gunner carrying a secondary weapon, Once fired, he was unarmed. This implies that Kerry killed a wounded, unarmed enemy. First, if true, this was despicable. Second, it was stupid, as a live prisoner was a highly valued prize as an intel source.
4 - I would very possibly have been brought up on charges for leaving the boat in a firefight. The boat would be leaderless while I was absent, it could not return fire, as I would be out in front, and it could not withdraw. I would have grounded the boat only to insert Infantry, should that be decided as the best course. My boat was a force multiplier, and my job was to fight my boat, not run around on my own. I am privileged to know real heroes, many of whom hold no award, but a guy who wanted to be a hero used to scare hell out of me. Still does.
John Kerry is entitled to any views he wishes to hold about the war, if anti-war, so be it. On his return, he got involved with the VVAW (See Jug Burkett's "Stolen Valor" ISBN: 096670360X). In sworn testimony to Congress, he accused the US Military of a calculated campaign of torture, atrocity, rape, and murder. All of us.
How can he be so proud of his service, having committed atrocities?
- Oh, he didn't do it?
Then, if he saw them, did he report them, as is required of a Naval officer?
- Oh, he didn't see them?
Then how could he so testify, if all he had to go on was the Leftist Big Lies of the time?
If Bush's remarks about WMDs are lies, then John Kerry's testimony certainly were lies of a much higher order. By those lies, he broke faith with me, and with all those he accused. He was disloyal to me and to us, and such disloyalty is about as low as one can go.
There are many aspects which do not add up for many of us. Thanks for a great post from someone who has obviously "been there, done that."
Something is fishy about this and if you've figured it out hopefully someone with some influence will be able to get this out where it can be heard. I'm not suggesting you don't have influence, heck I've never met you, but you know what I mean, right?
I'm thinking Kerry is fixin to take a fall BIG TIME before the election. There are enough things he says that are "off" that he's gonna get caught.
Good Post, and thanks for your service to our country. We owe you a lot Interesting Times.
I strongly suspect, and would accuse Kerry of war crimes and murder.
Hey! Those are privileged, private things! How dare you go and demand them just so you can satisfy some voyeuristic tendency!!!!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.