Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

August 21, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

SWIFT BOAT UPDATE....So are the Swift Vet guys liars, or are they seekers after truth trying to set the record straight? The evidence is steadily mounting in favor of "liars."

In 1969 John Kerry won a Silver Star for his command of a 3-boat unit that employed aggressive and unconventional tactics to rout a Viet Cong ambush. Swift Vets for Truth has alleged, instead, that Kerry shot a lone, fleeing, wounded, unarmed teenager in the back and didn't deserve his medal.

Of the other two Swift Boat commanders who participated in the attack, one, Donald Droz, is dead, but the other, it turns out, is William Rood, a metro desk editor with the Chicago Tribune. In Sunday's paper he tells the story of what happened the day Kerry won his medal, explaining that Viet Cong ambushes were a "virtual certainty" on river operations but that Kerry had come up with a new idea about how to handle them:

Kerry, who had tactical command of that particular operation, had talked to Droz and me beforehand about not responding the way the boats usually did to an ambush.

We agreed that if we were not crippled by the initial volley and had a clear fix on the location of the ambush, we would turn directly into it, focusing the boats' twin .50-caliber machine guns on the attackers and beaching the boats. We told our crews about the plan.

....It happened again, another ambush. And again, Kerry ordered the turn maneuver, and again it worked. As we headed for the riverbank, I remember seeing a loaded B-40 launcher pointed at the boats. It wasn't fired as two men jumped up from their spider holes.

We called Droz's boat up to assist us, and Kerry, followed by one member of his crew, jumped ashore and chased a VC behind a hoocha thatched hutmaybe 15 yards inland from the ambush site....Not long after that, Kerry returned, reporting that he had killed the man he chased behind the hooch. He also had picked up a loaded B-40 rocket launcher, which we took back to our base in An Thoi after the operation.

John O'Neill, author of a highly critical account of Kerry's Vietnam service, describes the man Kerry chased as a "teenager" in a "loincloth." I have no idea how old the gunner Kerry chased that day was, but both [Jerry] Leeds and I recall that he was a grown man, dressed in the kind of garb the VC usually wore.

The man Kerry chased was not the "lone" attacker at that site, as O'Neill suggests. There were others who fled. There was also firing from the tree line well behind the spider holes and at one point, from the opposite riverbank as well. It was not the work of just one attacker.

How many more of these stories will it take? It gets plainer every day that SBVT is nothing more than a bunch of embittered vets who hate Kerry for his anti-war activities in the 70s and decided last year to get together and make up as many lies as they could to get back at him. It's disgusting, and as Rood says, "While they mean to hurt Kerry, what they're saying impugns others who are not in the public eye."

I wonder how much lower they'll be able to sink?

Kevin Drum 12:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly