Respond to this Article September 2004

The Unexpurgated
Unfit for Command

By Arthur Levine

The Washington Monthly has obtained a memo containing excerpts from the original manuscript of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's book, Unfit for Command, including editor's notes.

To: John O'Neill, author Unfit for Command
From: Chip Regnery IV
Re: double-checking your mss.

Dear John:

In the rush to get your book to press, our president Marjorie Ross has asked me to take over the final edit of Unfit for Command. We're very high on the book's prospects to be a smash bestseller -- and, we hope, affect the presidential race. A personal note: I wasn't born until 1973, so your book was a real education for me on the Vietnam War and the way left-wingers like Kerry have distorted what happened there. I had no idea, for example, that virtually all the so-called "atrocities" in Vietnam were either done by Kerry himself or made up out of whole cloth by Seymour Hersh. What an eye-opener! Of course, I have a few minor questions and comments I'd like you to check, noted in brackets. All in all, you've made an air-tight case against Kerry.

Get back to me as soon as you can on these items, and we'll ship the final galleys to you for proofing. Here are the sections we'd like you to revise or double-check:

JOHN KERRY: CHARLATAN OR WAR CRIMINAL?

John Kerry has built his entire political career on the myth that he is a "war hero." But Sen. John Kerry is no hero, as I and the other Swift Boat veterans who fought alongside him know all too well. He is a liar, a coward, a psychopathic baby-killer -- and should have been executed for treason a long time ago. [Tone it down a bit here, please. We don't want to lose readers at the beginning -- ed.] Instead, he's a candidate for president who claims he deserves to be the commander in chief of the United States. But as someone who has engaged in the most reprehensible conduct in the history of mankind [what about Hitler?], Kerry doesn't deserve to be a petty officer third class, let alone the commander in chief of our great country. He must be stopped by any means necessary [Cut this! Sounds like you're promoting his assassination.] before he betrays our country again just to serve his insane ambition. This lying son of a bitch will stab our country in the back just like he did his fellow Navy men over 30 years ago. [Way too emotional. How about "hypocrite" instead of S.O.B.?]

John Kerry served in Vietnam for only four months. Yet he still managed to hoodwink his commanding officers into giving him three Purple Hearts, which allowed him to flee combat to pursue his goal of selling out America as an anti-war protester. He did it by "gaming" the Navy rules that allow any sailor to claim awards for combat injuries merely by filling out the official "E-Z I WANT A PURPLE HEART" form and sending it in without verification to headquarters. [Is it that easy? Double-check.] In fact, according to most Swift Boat veterans who either served on nearby boats or heard rumors about him from his crewmates, Kerry only had a few minor scratches that he deliberately inflicted on himself. They were not the result of any hostile fire.

Take a look at John Kerry's first Purple Heart he won for a made-up "incident" on Dec. 2, 1968. He says he was patrolling on a "skimmer" boat near Cam Ramh Bay when he was wounded by shrapnel fire while bending down to pick up another gun. In fact, before the so-called "attack," Kerry actually practiced with different weapons the best way to give himself a plausible wound. Here's what we were told by now-Rear Adm. William Schachte, who was not only a crewmate but also Kerry's best man when Kerry married his first wife in 1970 [Are you sure about that part?]:

"In the early-morning darkness, I saw him pick up a pen-knife and scratch his upper arm with it a few times. He was cackling to himself, and I'll never forget it. After that, he got a gun, placed the muzzle against his arm, but he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. Finally, he bent down and picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and kept it close to his arm while he turned his head away from the weapon, grimaced and fired away. Finally, he got the shrapnel wound he always wanted. It still didn't amount to much." [Great stuff! Any back-up evidence?]

Kerry then demanded that the boat rush to a sickbay miles away so he could be "treated." The sole attending physician was Dr. Louis Letson. Already an expert on wounds, Dr. Letson told us, he would years later win the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his discovery of the cellular mechanisms underlying infections. [You verified his award? Reminder: please Google your interview subjects! We don't have a fact-checking staff anymore.] Letson vividly recalled that when Kerry appeared at the sickbay, the doctor asked him, "Why are you here?" in surprise, observing Kerry's unimpressive scratch. "I've been wounded in hostile fire, and if I'm ever going to be president of the United States, I must win a Purple Heart!" Kerry pleaded. Dr. Letson was shocked by Kerry's naked ambition, but treated him anyway. Using a nuclear microscope, Letson said, he finally spotted the subatomic sliver of shrapnel and removed it with a tweezer.

While other sailors and soldiers lost their lives and limbs in 'Nam, and George W. Bush trained for years in the Air National Guard to protect our country, John Kerry got a quick ride home by concocting his Purple Heart "wounds."

JOHN KERRY: MASS MURDERER

John Kerry burst on the national stage with an appalling attack on his fellow soldiers in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He compared all of us who served in Vietnam to Genghis Khan, raping and killing civilians. Yet if anyone was guilty of such behavior, it was Kerry himself. Numerous Coastal Division 11 Swiftees recall his bloodthirsty hunger to kill civilians. Swift Boat veteran Bill Franke, a Silver Star winner, remembers seeing Kerry at the helm of his boat, PCF 21, speeding up and down the Cua Lon River, hunting for any Vietnamese to kill. Franke says:

"His motto was 'The more kills, the more medals for me.' I was shocked. Even during daytime patrols, Kerry routinely attacked sampans with fishermen on them who were just dangling their poles in the water. Then he ordered his men to kill everyone on the boats, women and babies included. Afterwards, acting more like a pirate than a naval officer, he led his crew in raiding the boats to steal anything of value on board, mostly fish. Then he ordered his cook to prepare his favorite French gourmet fish dishes from his Swiss boarding school days, such as Filet de Poisson aux Pommes. His crew always ate well after a massacre."

But waterway kills weren't enough to satisfy Kerry's blood-lust. Once, early in his 1968 tour of duty, he saw smoke rising from a small village called My Lai. [He was there? Please double-check My Lai massacre date with Kerry's timeline in Vietnam.] He disembarked, and while Swifties in other boats looked on in horror, he waded into the jungle to join the carnage. [Check: How far inland from the river was My Lai?]

As George Bates, an officer in Coastal Division 11, remembers it:

"Those Marines were on some kind of search and destroy mission that had gotten out of control. They were bayonetting old men, shooting old women and children, it was horrible. But Kerry, always the brown-noser, saw a chance to make up another combat medal for himself. 'Hey, let me help!' Kerry shouted, and eagerly joined in. He warmed up by killing numerous small animals with heavy machine-gun fire. He then moved on to shooting little children and throwing their bodies in a ditch. Finally, he ran around the hamlet with a Zippo lighter, setting the huts on fire. All this was in addition to the aerial bombing of the village with napalm. He stood there in the safari hat he always wore during combat, and announced, 'I love the smell of napalm in the morning!'" [Love that quote. This book would make a great movie!]

Afterwards, Kerry tried to justify his war crimes to the other Swift Boat sailors in the area. "We had to destroy the village in order to save it," he said. We weren't buying it. Kerry didn't file an after-action report, so he managed to avoid being mentioned as part of the incident. Ironically, Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life in prison, but Lt. John Kerry gets to run for president after boasting about his "heroic" war record.

As for Bates, he is still haunted by Kerry's actions and was appalled by the complete hypocrisy of Kerry's shift to the role of peace activist condemning war crimes upon his return. "John Kerry is a moral monster who is possessed by a satanic demon. Indeed, I have no doubt that he is the anti-Christ himself," the devout Bates concludes. [Cut Christian fundamentalist stuff. Could hurt East Coast sales.]

VIETNAM: TRY-OUT FOR TREASON

Bates and the other Swifties were equally galled by Kerry's insistence on practicing his anti-war speeches while still in uniform. One night, while the rest of his crewmates slept, Kerry stood near the bow, gazing at himself in a hand-held mirror and trying out lines. "How do you ask a man to be the last American to die for misguided policy decisions?" he announced in stentorian tones, according to eyewitness Steve Gardner. Then Kerry tried another variation: "How do you ask a man or woman to be the last person to get killed for errors in judgment?" He continued refining it until nearly dawn. Finally, he got the exact phrasing that later catapulted him into national fame: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

As Gardner says, speaking for all those Swifties who know John Kerry best, "The only mistake we made in Vietnam was letting a self-serving war criminal like John Kerry get away with murder, lie about his war record and betray our armed forces."

As a result, 50,000 Americans lost their lives because of his treachery. [I suggest cutting this. Can we get away with blaming every U.S. death there on John Kerry? We've already said that he is a pathological liar who isn't fit to command and was a Communist stooge. That should be plenty.]

Art Levine is a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly and writer of the Art Levine Confidential blog. Yes, this was a parody.


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