Skip to comments.Revealed: how 'war hero' Kerry tried to put off Vietnam military duty
Posted on 03/06/2004 4:37:21 PM PST by Pokey78
Senator John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate who is trading on his Vietnam war record to campaign against President George W Bush, tried to defer his military service for a year, according to a newly rediscovered article in a Harvard University newspaper.
He wrote to his local recruitment board seeking permission to spend a further 12 months studying in Paris, after completing his degree course at Yale University in the mid-1960s.
The revelation appears to undercut Sen Kerry's carefully-cultivated image as a man who willingly served his country in a dangerous war - in supposed contrast to President Bush, who served in the Texas National Guard and thus avoided being sent to Vietnam.
The Harvard Crimson newspaper followed a youthful Mr Kerry in Boston as he campaigned for Congress for the first time in 1970. In the course of a lengthy article, "John Kerry: A Navy Dove Runs for Congress", published on February 18, the paper reported: "When he approached his draft board for permission to study for a year in Paris, the draft board refused and Kerry decided to enlist in the Navy."
Samuel Goldhaber, the article's author who is now a cardiologist attached to the Harvard School of Medicine, spent 11 hours trailing Mr Kerry and still remembers that the subject of the Paris deferment came up during long conversations about Vietnam.
"I stand by my story," he told The Telegraph. "It was a long time ago, and I was 19 at the time, so it is hard to remember every detail. But I do know this: at no point did Kerry contact either me or the Crimson to dispute anything I had written."
Sen Kerry's campaign headquarters in Washington refused an opportunity to deny the report. Despite repeated telephone calls from The Telegraph, a spokesman refused to comment. Another Democrat official said merely: "In Vietnam, John Kerry proved his patriotism beyond question. Everyone knows that."
A senior Republican strategist, who asked not to be named, said: "I've not heard this before. This undercuts Kerry's complaints about Bush and it continues to pose questions as to his credibility among ordinary Vietnam veterans."
He said it would fuel concerns over the way Sen Kerry made a name for himself by leading anti-war protests in Washington and Boston in the late 1960s and early 1970s after he had completed his service in the US Navy, even while his former comrades continued to fight and die.
A newly-published biography of Sen Kerry by Douglas Brinkley, A Tour of Duty, makes no mention of the requested deferment or planned year in Paris. At the time, it was still unclear just how long America would remain in Vietnam, and it might have seemed that a year's deferral of service could render enlistment unnecessary.
According to the Democratic Party's version of Sen Kerry's military history, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Harvard through eagerness to do his duty, and sailed with the Navy for combat as soon as he graduated in 1966.
Sen Kerry won a gallantry medal for his service as a gunboat captain on the Mekong Delta, and was honorably discharged with three "purple heart" medals after sustaining three wounds. He has consistently presented himself as a leader who argued against the war only after fulfilling his duty in the field. Supporters argue that his war record makes him a more trustworthy leader than President Bush, who served sporadically in the National Guard at home.
"This means that Kerry didn't jump into all that heroic service until he was pushed, and it is a very nice piece of information," said Lucianne Goldberg, a prominent Republican campaigner.
Republican strategists for President Bush were already investigating Sen Kerry's record of three wounds sustained in Vietnam. "We find that he had only one day off sick - with three wounds? What exactly were these wounds?" she asked.
Mr Goldhaber recalled that, during a day spent with Sen Kerry and one assistant during his congressional campaign, he had described his involvement, service and decision to oppose the war in great detail.
"I am not at all surprised that he wants to be president, because he exuded ambition from the word go," said Dr Goldhaber. "At the time, the idea that he tried to persuade the draft board to let him spend a year in Paris was just a detail."
A spokesman for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign declined to comment.
There are a lot of ducks nibbling on Kerry.
Kerry's ambition, although it can be seen as commendable, doesn't hold a candle to Dubyas conviction for what is right for our country or his faith based focus on achieving what is best for us.
I suppose a one year deferment isn't too odd in itself, assuming he wasn't going to bootstrap it to another, and another. But for studying in Paris? Prissy, and France again. It's always something about France with Kerry.
Seems the good dirt gets released in Brit papers these days...
True. On the other hand, Alvin York did not campaign for public office by letting his underlings accuse his opponent of being the moral equivalent of a draft dodger and a deserter.
What bothered me about this article saying Kerry "only served" four months on a tour is that he had a cushy job on the big ship and opted to volunteer for his second tour of duty on a swift boat. In other words he took himself off the easy duty and into the harder combat seeing duty. That has to count for something.
That is what Kerry and the Democrats want us to believe and that is the version they are putting out. However, that version is pure Bravo Sierra and is not supported by the facts or by Kerry's own statements.
It would indeed be extremely admirable if Kerry had knowingly taken "himself off the easy duty and into the harder combat seeing duty".
However, Kerry never volunteered for combat or any duty he dreamed would get him into combat.
Kerry was the First Division Officer when he served on the USS Gridley.
John F. Kerry, the junior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts is positioning himself for a run at the Presidency in 2004. Ensign (and later LTJG Kerry) reported aboard GRIDLEY straight out of the Fleet Training Center, San Diego on 8 June 1967. This boot Ensign headed up First Division and is shown here with Calvert BM1 and BMCS Enochs. His biographical materials never mention this period even though he was aboard GRIDLEY much longer than he was in Vietnam. Between having these two old salts reporting to him and Captain Slifer after him all the time, Ensign Kerry was a busy young man.
What is "First Division"?
First Division is one of the "Deck Divisions" on a ship. In Navy slang, the "Deck Apes". They swab the decks. They chip paint. They paint the areas they finished chipping. After that, they swab, they chip and they paint somemore. The bottom of the class at Navy Boot Camp ends up in a Deck Division.
In the Ward Room, the First Division Officer is the lowest guy in the ship's officers pecking order. When the XO or the CO need an S.L.J.O. (Shitty Little Jobs Officer), the First Division Officer is the guy that gets the job.
Kerry was in charge of the least skilled sailors in the lowest prestige division on his ship and, apparently, his C.O., Captain Slifer, was not making life very pleasant for our Boston Blue Blood who was more used to sailing on John F. Kennedy's yacht.
What to do?
At the time, swift boats merely patrolled the coastline or ferried salors between ships.
Most importantly, a mere Lt.(j.g.) was the Officer in Charge (OIC).
Instead of being the SLJO on the USS Gridley, in charge of Deck Ape Division, with Captain Slifer making his life miserable, Kerry pictured himself as the OIC of his own boat, roaring up and down the South China Sea out of the war and with no Captain Slifer anywhere in sight.
But, don't take my word for it.
Let's hear it from John F. Kerry himself:
Boston Globe, 6/16/2003: ........"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.
Two weeks after Kerry assumed command of his swift boat, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt put into effect his idea of getting those swift boats out of glorified water skiing duty........
.......into the shooting war in the rivers of the Mekong Delta.
As Robert Burns once wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
What does Kerry do now after you have gone from glorified water skier straight into deep kim-chee?
Kerry signed up for being OIC of his own water skiing boat and here he was in the middle of a friggin war!!
Kerry then racked up three Purple Hearts for "injuries" that kept him off duty for a grand total of.....drum roll, please..... two days of duty by his own admission and zero days according to his swift boat C.O.
Kerry then sea-lawyered himself out of combat after only four months and requested a transfer as an "Admiral's aide", preferably in "Boston, New York or Washington".
Boston Globe, 6/16/2003: ......... He requested and was granted a transfer out of Vietnam six months before his combat tour was slated to end on the grounds that he had earned three Purple Hearts. None of his wounds was disabling; he said one cost him two days of service and the other two did not lead to any absence. .........The bottom line is that Kerry could have remained but he chose to seek an early transfer.
When the Boston Globe asked Kerry to give permission for the release of his Navy medical records so that the Boston Globe could document what sort of injuries earned Kerry three Purple Hearts and a ticket out of combat after 4 months.........Kerry refused.
Every decision and/or request John F. Kerry ever made; from First Division Officer to swift boat OIC; from swift boat OIC to early termination of his combat tour; from early termination of his combat tour to Admiral's aide; from Admiral's aide to early discharge from active duty; from early discharge from active duty to politically-popular-in-Massachusets American-G.I.'s-are-war-criminals anti-war protestor.....
Every decision and/or request John F. Kerry ever made in his Navy carreer was made to further the comfort, safety and political ambitions of John F
Well, he got a Silver Star for purposely beaching his boat (thereby needlessly endagering his boat and his crew), jumping out of the boat (the Officer in Charge is NEVER supposed to leave his boat) in order to give a coup de grace (his own crew's words) to a Viet Cong that had already been riddled by .50 caliber machine gun fire. He then came back with a souvenier Viet Cong RPG launcher.
He got a Bronze Star for turning his boat around, while under fire, to save a Special Forces man that had fallen overboard. He pulled the man out of the water himself. That one was undoubtedly well-deserved.
So, a Silver Star for needlessly endengering his boat and crew and putting a bullet into a pile of hamburger in order to get a souvenier but only a Bronze Star for saving an American soldier.
Everyone my father knew at that time enlisted in the Navy to avoid action in Vietnam. Most of them ended up on carriers in the Meditterranean. Kerry wanted Swift boats because they operated far from the action. It was only later that they were moved into deltas and rivers. Kerry did everything possible to avoid action. That's fine...but let's just be honest about it.
O.C.S. (Officer Candidate School)
You sign up with a college degree under your belt and you are sent off to O.C.S. for the equivalent of an R.O.T.C. course except that it is a full time course rather than part time classes spread out over 4 years.
"Just give me the aspirin. I already got a Purple Heart."
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