Navy Report Backs Kerry Account Of Bay Hap River Clash
The AP reports the Navy task force "overseeing John Kerry's swift boat squadron in Vietnam reported that his group of boats came under enemy fire during a March 13, 1969, incident that three decades later is being challenged by the Democratic presidential nominee's critics." The March 18, 1969, weekly report "from Task Force 115, which was located by The Associated Press during a search of Navy archives, is the latest document to surface that supports Kerry's description of an event for which he won a Bronze Star and a third Purple Heart." The Task Force report "twice mentions the incident five days earlier and both times calls it 'an enemy initiated firefight' that included automatic weapons fire and underwater mines used against a group of five boats that included Kerry's."
Battle Damage Report From Kerry's Boat Doesn't Show Bullet Holes.
NBC Nightly News showed a "battle damage report from Kerry's boat" on the Bay Hap events which "does not show any bullet holes, but this one from Swift Boat Vets member Larry Thurlow's boat does, three .30 caliber bullet holes. Thurlow claims that damage was from a sniper the day before."
Kerry's Medal Citation Inconsistent With Doctor's Report.
NBC Nightly News also said Kerry's "medal citation" for that day "says his arm was 'bleeding and in pain,' but a doctor's report refers only to a contusion, or bruise."
Battle Kerry Critic Stands By His Account.
Kerry critics Larry Thurlow said Tuesday he stood by his assertion that there was no enemy fire that day. On NBC Nightly News, Thurlow was shown saying Kerry "lied to manufacture that third Purple Heart. The plan was to use his Vietnam experience and use that as a platform into basically a career in politics. . . . We took no enemy fire from either bank. There's not one man wounded. There's not a bullet hole that day in any boat."
Kerry Journal Said To Raise Questions About First Purple Heart.
In a front-page story, the Washington Times reports Kerry's "own wartime journal is raising questions about whether he deserved the first of three Purple Hearts, which permitted him to go home after 4 ½ months of combat." A "primary claim against Mr. Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans is that Mr. Kerry's first Purple Heart awarded for action on Dec. 2, 1968 did not involve the enemy and that Mr. Kerry's wounds that day were unintentionally self-inflicted." They charge "that in the confusion involving unarmed, fleeing Viet Cong, Mr. Kerry fired a grenade, which detonated nearby and splattered his arm with hot metal." Kerry has "claimed that he faced his 'first intense combat' that day, returned fire, and received his 'first combat related injury.'" The Times adds a journal entry Mr. Kerry "wrote Dec. 11, however, raises questions about what really happened nine days earlier." Kerry wrote in the journal, "A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky." The Times adds, "If enemy fire was not involved in that or any other incident, according to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, no medal should be awarded." A Kerry campaign official, "speaking on background, told The Washington Times yesterday that the 'we' in the passage from Mr. Kerry's journal refers to 'the crew on Kerry's first swift boat, operating as a crew' rather than Mr. Kerry himself." The aide said, "John Kerry didn't yet have his own boat or crew on December 2. Other members of the crew had been in Vietnam for some time and had been shot at and Kerry knew that at the time. However, the crew had not yet been fired on while they served together on PCF 44 under Lieutenant Kerry." The Times adds, "Mr. Kerry's campaign could not say definitively whether he did receive enemy fire that day."
In Questionnaire, Kerry Claims Mine Exploded "Under" His Boat.
The Washington Times' "Inside the Beltway" column says that in a 2004 presidential candidate questionnaire for Humane USA, Kerry "was asked whether any pets have had an impact on his life. 'I have always had pets in my life, and there are a few that I remember very fondly,' Mr. Kerry replied. 'When I was serving on a Swift Boat in Vietnam, my crewmates and I had a dog we called VC. One day as our Swift Boat was heading up a river, a mine exploded hard under our boat,' he continued. 'After picking ourselves up, we discovered VC was MIA (missing in action). Several minutes of frantic search followed, after which we thought we'd lost him. We were relieved when another boat called asking if we were missing a dog.' . . . J.J. Scheele, program director of Humane USA, confirmed yesterday that her organization did, in fact, receive the above statement from the Kerry campaign. No military records on Mr. Kerry's Web site, which aides say is a complete accounting, mention a mine exploding under his boat or any dog. The only report of a mine detonating 'near' Mr. Kerry's PCF 94 was March 13, 1969, when Mr. Kerry says he was injured and a man knocked overboard."