I watched, with not a small amount of indignation, a group of Vietnam Veterans and the news media turn accidents and incompetence into battlefield heroics on national TV. So stage-managed is our political process that we as a people are being propagandized into believing just about anything the left and a fat propagandist named Moore want to lie about. That retired General Officers and even a Special Forces Officer would participate is unsavory and without honor.
All during the Vietnam War I stood shoulder to shoulder with heroes and legends. Many were wounded and fought the doctors to come back to stand beside us, not yet truly healed from injures. In our POW camp the only people who knew John Kerry were the cruel enemy who held us. They are the only soldiers who served near me, who would consider standing next to John to burnish his image as a warrior. We learned of John from them. None of mine want to hear that John served “almost a year” in combat, because he bobbed off shore at sea for half of that time. They don’t care how the Navy counts that time. Even John’s fellow sailors, especially SEALS, must feel some anger when he and his backers claim this as “in country” time.
The brave warriors who fought beside me are angered by the myth being stated by some of our own that “Vietnam Veterans support John Kerry.” They did not march against that war and hated those like Kerry who portrayed their service as less than honorable. They don’t care what some dippy actress thinks or what some actor who played a soldier in a movie considers important. My solders want the American people to know they could each stand alone on any stage and not need to trot out witnesses to try and prove they really fought. The record speaks for itself. They are scarred and some like “Raider” and “Little Tex” are missing parts of themselves, but, they each are man enough to speak for themselves.
John Kerry and the communist flag carrying VVAW never spoke for them during the war and this latest group, including generals, do not either. Even the presidency is not so important that it justifies an officer to lie.
I returned from a reunion with my men from C Company, 1st Battalion 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. I was their commander in 1970. We sat for hours and laughed, talking about things and people from back then. We spoke of April 1970 and how twice in fourteen days two CAR15’s were destroyed in my hands by enemy gunfire. We remembered with the same amazement we had back then, that only a peeled back fingernail was the result of that close combat. Each would have been embarrassed had I felt I deserved a Purple Heart for that.
We remembered how an NVA with a 82mm mortar in a cave had us under fire after taking resupply on a deserted Firebase Kathryn. Most of the men sitting there, including myself, had tiny pieces of metal blown into our heads and bodies. They were considered scratches and we would have been angered if anyone in the unit ever mentioned Purple Heart in the same breath with our “war story.” We honored an OH6 pilot called “SQUIRREL” who hovered down and snatched the mortar from the gunner’s hands with a grappling hook and then swung around and killed him with his mini-gun.
We remembered how Staff Sergeant Steve Smith twice had to ride a jungle penetrator up through the triple canopy jungle, because a nervous Dust Off pilot, call sign “Dust Off 999” broke the first one off trying to evade a little sniper fire. He made it on the second try as I ordered an M60 machine gun aimed at his left door to keep “Dust Off 999” steady until “Raider” and the other soldier made it out of the jungle. I was in the process of recommending Steve Smith for a battlefield commission, but his two trips up the penetrator and the bullet which ripped away the upper portion of his arm ended all of that. A few months ago “Raider” had one leg amputated because of those injures suffered in the fall. His new leg amazed us all. There was no talk of an additional Purple Heart. That Airborne Ranger never thought he deserved another Purple Heart just because a Dust Off pilot got scared. Steve Smith was twenty years old when this all happened in 1970. One of my most treasured memories is that his father, a professional Naval Officer, took the time to write to me and thank me for getting his son out. That was enough for me. It was my job.
We remembered how we sat one mountain away and asked to intervene when another Rifle Company was flat getting whacked, near Fire Base Rip Cord. But it was determined that it was that commander’s time to star. He died trying to board a helicopter early, while he still had troops on the ground and it crashed on top of him. Too many have fought for years to turn him into a “Hero”, but we know the truth. We were there. The manufacturing of “heroes” is not new to us.
As I watched John Kerry and his “Band of Brothers” with a film produced by Hollywood playing in the background, try to capture the moral high ground I was angry. I saw an incident where a man fell off a boat turned into “mortal combat” and Kerry coming back to pick him up portrayed as “Saving his Life.” He was a Special Forces Officer and by definition he could swim. They corrected an error one of them made. From their own words I knew neither was the man a young Staff Sergeant called “Raider” was, and is today.
I hear the same Special Forces Officer describe what Kerry and John McCain did on the POW issue in admirable terms. What both did was ignore the evidence and try to close book on the MIA’s. Having dealt with Kerry personally on this I know he dishonored himself. He even bragged in his speech about how he had opened the door to trade with Vietnam. No mention was made of how companies, especially Colliers, benefited from this action. He did not tell how a serving Naval Officer had to stifle a laugh when John tried to compare his service in the Vietnam War to mine in the lobby of the Siam Intercontinental Hotel back then.
I learned that day John Kerry was unlike any other veteran I knew. There was a self-serving side to it all. He did not seem to have gone to war for his country and to come back to protest in America to save his fellow veterans. He seems to have done these things for John Kerry. From Al Gore to John Kerry we are being subjected to a group of veterans who have been shunned by true combat Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines for years. I would like to see the Democrats march out some candidate who at least finished a full tour in my war. JUST ONE! Even General Clark did that. We must honor him for that service. They played the tape where Kerry lied about war crimes he claimed to have seen. He spoke about “Free Fire Zones” and how we murdered innocent civilians in them. Every Soldier I ever met in Vietnam from Private to General knew we moved all civilians to “New Life Hamlets” before any area was declared a “Free Fire Zone.” Only John and his “Band of Brothers” seem to have missed the point. That Army Officers, including Generals, would stand beside anyone making such claims brings dishonor on themselves. They are not the men we were made to believe they were back then.
I spoke with an MIA family; the father had himself been a POW in WWII. They do not believe John Kerry “solved” the POW issue. They spoke of him with disdain. For them this is not a partisan issue. They respect my fellow returned POW John McCain no more than Kerry on the issue of live POWs. But, all of us are angered by Kerry claiming a victory in something he used for personal gain. Every Mother and Father of a military person deployed in combat today should know what John Kerry told me in Bangkok, Thailand in the early 1990’s. When we spoke of what action to take on POW’s, he said; “We are not going to war over these people.” Think about it folks, this could be your son or daughter he was talking about. This attitude does not merely debate history, but applies to today if a fat ugly man named Moore gets his wish to make John Kerry President.
I was angry in 1973, when it was determined that the six bullets and thirty two pieces of major shrapnel which hit me, during a two and a half day battle, deserved one Purple Heart. I had been wounded on twelve separate occasions, but today, I wear that award as a badge of honor, along with the other three I received. I never had to go and ask anyone to send in the paperwork on them.
In 1969 I fell in a river trying to snatch a Vietnamese Ranger, loaded with equipment from the deep and swift waters south of Saigon. Suddenly, we were both in the same predicament. That young Ranger died that day. The boat came back and picked me up. We never found the Ranger. No one spoke of medals, even though we had been in combat all day. I felt sadness for the Ranger and pride that I never dropped any piece of gear including my rifle. I never thanked the Vietnamese Naval Officer for picking me up. It was his job.
But, as I watched Kerry and his “Band of Brothers” on TV, my mind went back to all those brave men I knew. I knew none of them would be like Max Cleland, wounded in a horrific accident and make it appear as if combat and Vietnam were to blame. None would turn falling off a boat and being picked up an “heroic rescue.” None would or could ignore the lies John Kerry has told about his service and the actions of others to stand beside him on a stage and bask in glory. The men I served beside were real. They are personified by a young Airborne Ranger named Steve Smith. His only regret is that the day he twice rode a jungle penetrator up through triple canopy jungle, his tour ended early. He would miss the battles yet to come and he would miss us. He and every man I served beside in five years of Vietnam combat were and are better men that any who lowered themselves to stand beside John on that stage or dishonored themselves by putting personal politics above personal honor in supporting him. We are ashamed of them. We do not whine and we are all better men than John Kerry.
P.S. Rassman, don’t send me another message telling me to “zip it.” You belittle yourself with such statements. If you choose to support John it is alright with us. But to try and silence those who disagree is childish and absurd. You are not the keeper of the flame of honor and courage in that. Besides, a one legged Airborne Ranger called “Raider” might take umbrage with it.