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Medal Mettle

Why the new citations? New insights. Plus: Kerry’s fear itself. Plus much more.

8.31.04

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KERRY CITATIONS
Re: The Washington Prowler's Citation Enhancement:

I read with interest your article by the Prowler concerning Kerry's multiple silver star citations. I have been raising this issue with the media and my Congressional representatives for months. Here are my observations:

Did he or didn't he? After reviewing Kerry's service records, as released by him, I find it hard to believe the media have not picked up on the John Lehman connection. It should set off all kinds of alarm bells, especially considering the recent flap over whether he threw his medals away or not.

A very curious question arises over Kerry's multiple Silver (3) and Bronze (2) star citations. Two of the five were signed by John Lehman who was Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration 5 Feb 1981 - 10 Apr 1987. There are three Silver Star citations supplied by Kerry. One was signed by ADM Zumwalt, one by ADM Hyland, and one by Secretary Lehman. The Bronze Star citations were signed by Zumwalt and Lehman.

Specifically, Zumwalt: ADM Zumwalt served as Commander, US Naval Forces Vietnam from Sep 1968-May 1970. The Silver Star citation is more than likely the original citation taken from the award submission. Normally, as part of the nomination form, the nominator must provide a synopsis of the award (citation) that can fit on a single page suitable for framing with the certificate. Zumwalt's citation covered two pages. I suspect that Zumwalt forwarded the award to CINCPAC, ADM Hyland, for the final signature, including the citation. It is worth noting that the requirement to go to CINCPAC applied only to the Silver Star, hence only the Zumwalt and Lehman citations for the Bronze Star, i.e., Zumwalt as the final approving authority and Lehman for the replacement/reissue.

Hyland: CINCPAC probably edited the Zumwalt Silver Star citation to make it fit on to one page and to clean it up a bit to fit the existing format. I do find it odd that Zumwalt's citation is on letterhead paper. Usually the suggested citation language is submitted on the award recommendation form itself. ADM Hyland was CINCPAC 30 Nov 1967 - 05 Dec 1970.

Lehman: Except for the last sentence, the Silver Star citation is the same as Hyland's. What makes this curious is that Secretary Lehman signed the citation at least over 12 and up to 18 years after the events occurred. Kerry served in Vietnam from November 1968 to April 1969. I doubt, in any event, that the final approval authority for Silver Stars had to go to SECNAV for approval. We also have photographic evidence that Kerry had the Silver Star medal pinned on in 1969. Kerry also acknowledges that he received them. My take is that Kerry requested replacement medals and due to the fact that Kerry was no longer an active duty service member, administrative requirements mandated that SECNAV's office had to approve the issue of the replacements once it was verified from official records that Kerry had actually earned them. It is odd that they could not have just given Kerry copies of the original citations and I am at a loss for the reason to change the last sentence of the Silver Star citation, even if it is boilerplate language. Why not go with the original like what was done for the Bronze Star?

The bottom line is that Kerry probably did throw away his medals and then requested replacements in the 1980s. Someone needs to raise this issue with Kerry, i.e., why did Secretary Lehman sign duplicate Bronze and Silver Star citations at least 12 years after you left Vietnam? Kerry needs to release all of his military records including the nomination forms, which will give us the chronology and the approval chain of command.

Kerry's reaction on "Good Morning America" fits his MO. He wants it both ways. When he discovered that throwing away your medals was politically a negative, he came up with the story about his ribbons and someone else's medals. Kerry realized that he couldn't walk away from the story entirely, especially since he has the medals displayed prominently in his office. However, the fly in the ointment is that we now have the citations, released by him, signed by Lehman. If he indeed requested replacement medals, he has a real problem, i.e., he was telling the truth initially, lied in the 80s, and is lying now.

Kerry is frozen in a time warp when it comes to his service in Vietnam. His preoccupation with his medals borders on being an obsession. If you check Kerry's released military records, you will notice that Kerry amended his DD214 with a DD215. Among other things, Kerry burnishes his Vietnam Service medal by adding four bronze service stars to reflect various campaigns. This was done in March 2001!!! Why anyone would go through that effort to make some meaningless changes is beyond me. Hundreds of thousands of veterans, including myself, could do it, but beyond self-gratification and ego, what is the point?

Vietnam Campaign Ribbon Stars: In actuality, Kerry served in four Vietnam campaigns, two while stationed in Vietnam and two while on the USS Gridley. If you check the attached link, you will see how the campaigns are delineated. NAMED CAMPAIGNS - VIETNAM Kerry was wrong however to request four stars. The ribbon counts as one star. There should be three stars rather than four. I suspect that the Navy spokesman was only referring to Kerry's Vietnam service when he stated that Kerry was entitled to two.

I should note my service as a naval officer (1965-72) including service in Vietnam -- 8 months off the coast on the USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) and 12 months in Danang -- gives me some insight on how the award process works.

Thank you for pursuing this story. Anyone with any military background will tell you that something is very wrong when almost all of your peers and all of your superiors conclude that you are unfit for command. The bottom line is that this question has to be made public so it can be researched. Even a best case scenario for Kerry, i.e., he wanted medal citations signed by the Secretary of the Navy for display purposes, portrays someone who is obsessed about Vietnam and his medals. Who else would have PH3 on his license plates?
-- Michael McLaughlin
McLean, Virginia

I'm sorry to say that your facts are pitifully wrong. There are 3 versions of Kerry's Silver Star Citation, not 2. The original signed by Zumwalt, 1 signed by ADM Hyland, and the final one signed by Lehman. Here's a link to a comprehensive comparison of all 3 citations.

You're correct on the analysis of the Combat "V" device.

You're badly mistaken on campaign stars on his VSM. He is entitled to 4. 2 while on the USS Gridley in early '68 and 2 while on Swifts in late '68 to early '69.

What needs to be pursued is the sanitization and embellishment of the citations. The Combat "V" issue, being so blatantly wrong, may be nothing more than a civilian error occurring while otherwise embellishing Kerry's record.
-- Tom Mortensen
Silver Star Recipient USN RVN '68-'69

Don't care about his medals. Don't care about his non-record in the Senate. Still haven't figured out how to get decorated for not following orders and doing your job but that's beside the point.

If most folks can't spot a cold, ambitious man who will do anything, say anything....and I mean anything to win ANY election he'll win again. The NE and the big cities will vote for a aardvark if he has the keys to the federal coffers. Bush carries MILLIONS of square miles, Gore carries a few hundred thousand. This should tell everyone who is voting democratic. Even though it's ruining their races, pride, and futures, the scam has been going on so long, it's habit. Bill Cosby tried to say it in words so clear it left the rest of the dais looking at their shoes. "Brothers and Sisters" they're killing us with their "gifts." It's like the ad "free gift." I thought all gifts were free!

So, once our inner city kids are so uneducated and drug addicted, and our federal coffers are empty from program to program, some guy will come along that will have runes as his campaign symbols. He'll "save" us. From bondage to prosperity, from prosperity to bondage. Swell. 200 some odd years, eh? Well, his-story says it's about time.
-- Dave Thomas
Rochester, Mn.

Kerry's file problems are worse than you think. My cousin, as a lowly seaman first class, had a file a foot think before he'd been in 2 years. Kerry's file can not credibly consist of only 100 pages.
-- Mary McLemore
Pike Road, Alabama

VICTORIANS' SECRET
Re: James Bowman's Francine's Anti-Victorian Prose:

With due respect to James Bowman's article, Ms. Prose misses a much larger point on the Victorians. The likes of the McGreevey affair would never have seen the light of day, trumpeted across the fruited plains like it has. Such events were whispered behind closed doors and were not topics for dinner conversation let alone news. And the few that did break out in the open it was time for a colonial post somewhere in the empire or lacking that option a one way dive into the Thames or Hudson. Consequently much of Ms. Prose commentary becomes moot.

But saying I am gay would never have been a defense for corruption. The Victorians thought better of themselves to stoop that low.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

BOUNCEABLES
Re: David Hogberg's Bush Bounce:

Outstanding article David. However as near as I can tell all the Swiftees' claims are substantially accurate. When pressed even the paraded minority, who were backing him, have not been so steadfast; all denied ever being in Cambodia, for example.

Then there is that Green Beret rescue "in a hail of enemy fire," which no other boat heard, and which left no bullet holes in spite of the fact that the boats lingered for an hour working on the stricken boat.

After 35 years minor details may be sketchy but not the overall conclusions. Almost every day someone else surfaces to back up the Swiftees.
-- G.B. Hall
Marietta, Georgia

What is apparently unknown to Mr. Hogberg is the widespread disillusionment, and growing disdain, with the current Administration among those who theoretically should be either clearly in, or at minimum, leaning to the Republican camp. Their willful blindness on illegal immigration -- which will be the top issue that costs Bush reelection if he loses-celebration of "diversity," lip service towards opposition to homosexual marriage (how about pushing for impeachment of activist judges, and couldn't Cheney at least say he was "saddened" by his child's sexual preference while still loving her), crazed spending throughout the budget, etc. The constant prattle about "spreading freedom and democracy" to the benighted sectors of the globe (as opposed to fully destroying our true and proven enemies) while life in our own country steadily deteriorates is slowly turning off middle-class, middle-aged voters by the day. Am I better off than four years ago? No, although I'm not really worse off. Is my country better off than four years ago? Emphatically no. Do either of the two major party candidates offer any reason to believe the answer to those two questions can be changed upon their election? Even more emphatically, no. We can vote for the Constitution Party, the Libertarians or even Nader if he's the only one of the three main alternatives on a given ballot. Or we can just stay home on November 2nd and do something meaningful to better our own lives, our own communities, our own country.
-- Peter Jacobs

NERVOUS TIME
Re: Jed Babbin's The Smell of Fear:

I'm struck by the potential for history repeating itself. Remember how the Clinton cabinet members and Al Gore came out en masse in front of the White House to blindly defend Clinton, in particular Donna Shalala (sp?), before it was discovered that Clinton lied to them? (Shalala almost resigned over the lies.) This memory came rushing back as now John Glenn was paraded out to sing from the Democratic hymnal. I have the feeling that we may soon see a repeat of moral and integrity gymnastics by the likes of Glenn, Cleland et al.

With the Cambodia tale, fable(?), imploding, with the first purple heart being seriously questioned, as well as the Rassmann "heroic" rescue, the sampan rice incident, the post-service anti-war/consorting with the enemy issue just beginning, one day this will all come to a head. I see apologies and admissions by Kerry (start counting the use of the "Fog of War" phrase) followed by the James Carville/Lanny Davis attempts to minimize the situation with the same reasoning they used when the Cambodia tale was exposed, to paraphrase: because after all who cares what happened 30 years ago or that's minor, who cares or GWB was AWOL, is behind the ads, is a dope, is a deserter ad nauseam.

What then will these former vets do if and when they find out they've been used? How foolish will they look as they try to nuance they're unwavering support. It is so dangerous to risk the honor and meaning of your own heroism, attested to and championed by others, on another's, mainly and primarily touted by himself and questioned legitimately by many others who were there.

This eventuality, and I do think it is coming, will be worth the price of admission. Kerry's gamble, that the story will go away before he is pressured to release all documents and his diary (or they are leaked), is not one I'd make. Probably, because only Kerry knows where the unexploded mines reside. Stay tuned!
-- Ken Keane
Tampa, Florida

Reportedly, the late Jimmy Durante said, "Be awfully nice to them (people) going up (the ladder of success), because you're gonna meet them all coming down."

John Kerry dishonorably began his calculated climb up his notorious ladder of political success by impugning the reputations of an entire generation of his Armed Service peers. Especially shameful was his slander of all who served in Vietnam.

Does he yet grasp the depth of his betrayal of them back in 1971 and now? If so, he must be denying it or arrogantly believing he can doublespeak it away.

I'd bet he never contemplated the wrath of those veterans he slandered and still does, along with his proxies James Carville and Lanny Davis, by calling them liars and bigots and dishonorable.

But I'd bet he and his campaign sense he's already begun his descent down success' ladder. So, of course, he smells fear.

Why so? Having compared all those soldiers and those who didn't survive to Attila the Hun, accused them of war crimes in each of their days in Vietnam, presented no evidence thereto and refused to withdraw such allegations, he knows he's in trouble.

Does he really believe the vets will kiss and make up and embrace him with open arms and their votes? Or that the public will simply ignore the character issues this issue, which he created and refuses to settle, raises about him?

By the way, the reason that "many of Kerry's critics call him a waffler, a craven opportunist" is abundantly simple, isn't it? He is.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

I just read "The Smell of Fear" article this morning. I confess I enjoy reading anything critical of Kerry, and so I enjoyed this article very much. But, I am writing to express a view of this movie Tour of Duty.

Will it help Kerry? I doubt it, and I'll tell you why. First, it is almost certain to be overplayed and try to make him look like a cross between Alexander the Great and Mahatma Gandhi. Second, it will contain information from his book that has already been discredited by the Swiftboat Vets, and equivocated by Kerry and his minions over the last few weeks. Third, it will undoubtedly raise more questions, to which the Vets will have answers and Kerry won't. And lastly, it will remind everyone once again that Kerry tries to play the patriot and the seditionist at the same time -- that he is both for and against America, depending on who he is trying to schmooze on any given day. When the patriarch Jacob gave each of his sons a blessing (this is in Genesis for those who may wonder who Jacob is), of one of his sons, I forget which right now, he said, "Unstable as water, thou shalt not prosper." Kerry's life shows him to be unstable, and I see him as a cross between Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and maybe Zeppo Marx, with apologies to Zeppo.
-- Steve Hayes
Utah

Does Teresa have a dog?? Of course she does: it's the cutest little Chihuahua named Tinkerbell, and the dog is as big a star as its mommy! But then it got lost, panic ensued, and posters offering a $5,000 reward went up all over West Hollywood before someone sobered up long enough to remember that Tinkerbell had been left over at Grandma's, and, well, red faces all around and....

No, wait, that was Paris Hilton. Sometimes it's so hard to keep all those mega-rich celebrities straight. But hey, Chihuahuas can smell fear too, and, given Kerry's August, that'd make for one fearsome rodent. So, watch your ankles, Senator!
-- Stephen Foulard
Houston, Texas
where Chihuahuas = bait

The Three Faces of Eve. The best I have read in a long time. Thanks.
-- unsigned

BEST EVER
Re: Unsigned's letter (under "To Hell and Back") in Reader Mail's Goodbye to All That:

Unsigned wrote:

"On October 31 George Bush will declare himself Emperor, suspend the Constitution and all elections. We will then round up all the liberals identified in the campaign season and "resettle" them into concentration camps located at Boston, Hollywood, Berkeley and Manhattan Island. Once "resettled", we will force you to listen to the recorded speeches of our beloved Emperor 24 hours a day."

Since the cat is now out of the bag, I guess it won't hurt to mention that the concentration camps are being constructed and operated by Halliburton.

Best letter ever. Thanks for making my day!
-- Chuck Lazarz
Reading, Pennsylvania

... I WON'T GO
Re: Michael Korhonen's letter ("Apocalypse Now") in Reader Mail's Judgment Day:

Bush's "leapfrog" into the guard is quite simple. Bush was qualified to be trained as a fighter pilot. This is really well documented for those who are willing to look for the truth.

Sorry, I will not be in hell as that is reserved.
-- G. Galvan

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