Questions swirl around Kerry's Silver Star
Raising questions about John Kerry's Silver Star medal won in Vietnam, two researchers say its accompanying citation was reissued twice, an "unheard of" occurrence serving to expunge from the record the shooting of an enemy solider in the back and upgrade the signer from an admiral to the secretary of the Navy.
To reissue a citation, regulations would have required Kerry to prove there was an error in the previous citation or that the existence of the citation somehow constituted an "injustice," say Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer, writing in Front Page magazine.
Henry Mark Holzer, professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School, and Erika Holzer, a lawyer and novelist, are co-authors of "Fake Warriors: Identifying, Exposing and Punishing Those Who Falsify Their Military Service." They plan a second edition of their book with a new preface entitled "John Kerry: The Ultimate Fake Warrior."
The authors, who want Kerry to release all documents related to the citations, have noted another peculiarity about Kerry's Silver Star -- its unauthorized "V" for valor which "makes it facially false, they say, and at variance with official government records." That's because Silver Stars are given for gallantry and never are accompanied with a combat "V," which would be redundant. But Kerry's DD 214, or "Report of Transfer and Separation," displayed on his website, shows the "V."
The researchers are not affiliated with Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, the group of 254 men who served with Kerry in Vietnam and now assert he is unfit to be commander in chief of the United States.
But Jerome Corsi, co-author of the swiftboat vets' book, "Unfit for Command," told WorldNetDaily the group has a lot of respect for their work.
"They've done some groundbreaking research ... examining the documentary evidence in order to come up with the truth," he said.
Corsi noted the swiftboat vets also have raised questions about multiple versions of Kerry's citations.
"Some subsequent citations appear to be embellished by personnel not there at the time, raising questions about which one is accurate and who asked for them to be revised and reissued," he said.
In "Unfit for Command," Corsi and co-author John O'Neill, a former swiftboat skipper, write Kerry was awarded his Silver Star "by killing a lone, fleeing, teenage Viet Cong in a loincloth."
The Silver Star, they write, "would never have been awarded had his actions been reviewed through normal channels. In his case, he was awarded the medal two days after the incident with no review. The medal was arranged to boost the morale of Coastal Division 11, but it was based on false and incomplete information provided by Kerry himself."
The swiftboat vets also assert two of Kerry's three Purple Hearts were a result of accidental, self-inflicted wounds.
Kerry's most recent Silver Star citation, nearly two decades older than the first, was signed by then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, who did not hold that position when Kerry was in Vietnam.
None of the three citations refer to the combat "V" that appears on the DD 214 on Kerry's website.
The first citation, signed by Vice Adm. E.R. Zumwalt Jr., commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Vietnam, is significantly different from the latter two in this section:
" ... Patrol Craft Fast 23 and 94 moved upstream to investigate an area from which gunshots were coming. Arriving at the area, Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY's craft received a B-40 rocket close aboard. Once again Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY ordered his units to charge the enemy positions and summoned Patrol Craft Fast 43 to the area to provide additional firepower. Patrol Craft Fast 94 then beached in the center of the enemy positions and an enemy soldier sprang up from his position not ten feet from Patrol Craft Fast 94 and fled. Without hesitation Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY leaped ashore, pursued the man behind a hootch and killed him, capturing a B-40 rocket launcher with a round in the chamber. Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY then led an assault party and conducted a sweep of the area while the Patrol Craft Fast continued to provide fire support. After the enemy had been completely routed, all personnel returned to the Patrol Craft Fast to withdraw from the area.”
Citation No. 2, however, signed by Adm. John J. Hyland, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, gives this account:
"On a request from U.S. Army advisors on shore, Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY ordered PCF’s 94 and 23 further up river to suppress enemy sniper fire. After proceeding approximately eight hundred yards, the boats were again taken under fire from a heavily foliated area and a B-40 rocket exploded close aboard PCF 94. With utter disregard for his own safety and the enemy rockets, he again ordered a charge on the enemy, beached his own boat only ten feet from the VC rocket position, and personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy. Upon sweeping the area, an immediate search uncovered an enemy rest and supply area which was destroyed.”
The second citation was issued sometime between Feb. 29, 1969, and Dec. 5, 1970, when Hyland no longer was commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet.
Citation No. 3, signed by Lehman, who recently headed the 9-11 commission, reads this way:
"After proceeding approximately eight hundred yards, the boats were again taken under fire from a heavily foliated area and a B-40 rocket exploded close aboard PCF 94: with utter disregard for his own safety and the enemy rockets, he again ordered a charge on the enemy, beached his boat only ten feet from the VC rocket position, and personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy. Upon sweeping the area an immediate search uncovered an enemy rest and supply area which was destroyed.
To obtain Citation No. 2, the authors say, Kerry would have had to prove that there was an error in Citation No. 1 and/or that the existence of that citation somehow constituted an "injustice."
The Holzers state: "While it is not difficult to understand why Kerry apparently sought and obtained a sanitized second version of his Silver Star citation, at first glance it is not so easy to surmise why Kerry went after yet a third citation, this time from Lehman (especially because the third citation is word-for-word, in every important respect, the same as the second)."
They speculate that in the 1980s, Kerry, by then a senator, may have been trying to upgrade his award, issued by a couple of "mere" admirals, to one issued by the secretary of the Navy.
Whatever the reason, they say, Hyland's Citation 2 and Lehman's Citation 3 would have had to satisfy the United States Code, which provides that the "Secretary of a military department may correct any military record of the Secretary's department when the Secretary considers it necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice."
The code provides that, "No correction may be made ... unless the claimant ... files a request for the correction within three years after he discovers the error or injustice. However, a board ... may excuse a failure to file within three years after discovery if it finds it to be in the interest of justice."
"Was the error in Citation 1 that he had shot the enemy soldier in the back, or that it was somehow an injustice to Kerry for the citation to say so?" the authors ask.
The problem for Kerry, they say, is that since Citation No. 3 is virtually identical to the second, there could be no error or injustice.
Another problem is that since the three-year statute of limitations had passed by the time Lehman was in office, in order for Kerry to obtain the correction, he would have had to prove that correcting Citation 2 was "in the interest of justice."
They conclude that changes based on any other reason than "for correcting misspellings or transpositions of service numbers or erroneous grades" would call into question the original decision to make the award.
That is why changing or correcting a citation is almost never done, they say.
The authors want Kerry to provide relevant records surrounding the issuance of the citations, contending that the questions they raise place him in a dilemma.
"If he stalls, or obfuscates, or refuses to answer, continuing a pattern he has employed about some of his more important records, the only reasonable conclusion is that he has something to hide," they write. "If he does answer, it is difficult to believe, given what is already known, that he will answer fully and truthfully.