Kerry backs off on medal claim
After WND story on journal discrepancy spokesman says no enemy fire 'possible'
By Art Moore
After WorldNetDaily's report last week
of a discrepancy in John Kerry's personal account of his first Purple Heart, his presidential campaign has backed off on claims that he was wounded from enemy fire.
WND reported that nine days after Kerry claims he was hit by hostile fire in 1968, he wrote in his journal as he set out on a subsequent mission, "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 Kerry campaign has not responded to repeated requests from WND for a response, including a call this morning. But yesterday, Fox News host Major Garrett confronted John Hurley national coordinator of Veterans for John Kerry, asking him on camera if it is possible the first Purple Heart did not result from an incident involving enemy fire.
Hurley replied, "Anything is possible ... ."
With three Purple Hearts, Kerry was allowed according to Navy regulations to leave Vietnam after only four months of his 12-month tour.
The Kerry campaign's admission to charges in "Unfit for Command," the newly published book by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, is not the first.
Two weeks ago, Kerry was forced to revise his decades-long contention he was on a secret mission in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968
. And last week, the Kerry campaign admitted a key contention of a story supporting the Democratic National Convention theme of "No Man Left Behind" was wrong. Kerry closed the convention with a story in which he claimed that five swiftboats fled on March 13, 1969, after a mine explosion and only he came back to rescue Lt. James Rassman. His campaign now is admitting that he fled and the rest stayed, before he later returned for Rassman.
Responding to Hurley's admission, "Unfit for Command" co-author Jerome Corsi told WND the swiftboat vets "remain interested in a solidly documented and researched examination which allows the truth to come out."
"As we do that, the Kerry campaign is having to reconstruct stories and admit to lies," Corsi said.
Kerry, who served as commander of a Navy swiftboat, has insisted he was wounded by enemy fire Dec. 2, 1968, when he and two other men took a smaller vessel, a Boston Whaler, on a patrol north of his base at Cam Ranh Bay. The conflicting journal entry is cited in Douglas Brinkley's book about Kerry's Vietnam service, "Tour of Duty."
While the date of Kerry's subsequent four-day excursion on PCF-44 [Patrol Craft Fast] is not specified, Brinkley notes it commenced when Kerry "had just turned 25, on Dec. 11, 1968," which was nine days after the incident in which he claimed he had been wounded by enemy fire.
In "Unfit for Command," Corsi and co-author John O'Neill, who took over command of Kerry's boat, assert the wound for which Kerry received his first of three Purple Hearts actually was caused by him firing an M-79 grenade launcher too close, "causing a tiny piece of shrapnel (one to two centimeters) to barely stick in his arm."
The authors, who rely on the eyewitness accounts of more than 60 men who served with Kerry, say Kerry's initial requests to receive a Purple Heart for the wound were flatly rejected.
In "Tour of Duty," Brinkley quotes Kerry as saying he and his comrades were "scared s---less" that night, thinking fishermen in sampans might be Viet Cong.
When some of the sampan occupants began unloading something on the beach, Kerry lit a flare, causing the startled men on shore to run for cover. That's when Kerry says he and the other Americans began firing.
Said Kerry in "Tour of Duty":
My M-16 jammed, and as I bent down in the boat to grab another gun, a stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell. By this time one of the sailors had started the engine and we ran by the beach, strafing it. Then it was quiet.
O'Neill and Corsi, however, claim there is no evidence whatsoever Kerry took any enemy fire that night.
Patrick Runyon was operating the engine on the Boston whaler during the incident.
"I can't say for sure that we got return fire or how [Kerry] got nicked," Runyon is quoted as saying in "Unfit for Command." "I couldn't say one way or the other. I know he did get nicked, a scrape on the arm."
Wrote O'Neill: "In a separate conversation, Runyon related that he never knew Kerry was wounded. So even in the [Boston] Globe biography accounting, it was not clear that there was any enemy fire, just a question about how Kerry might have been hit with shrapnel."
The book also asserts another one of Kerry's Purple Hearts resulte from a self-inflicted wound.