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A group of Vietnam vets who served with John Kerry charges that he is unfit to be president and commander in chief
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A band of 'Swifties' says Kerry's no brother
THE NEXT presidential election lies at the end of a road long and low. Republicans, saddled with a candidate who has gone since 9/11 from toast of the town to something more like toast, are spending most of their TV ad dollars attacking John Kerry. The Kerry folks haven't exactly made nice with George W. Bush, either. This space hasn't rushed into the fray or become a myna bird for mudmeisters from either camp. Yet serious charges have been made against Mr. Kerry by serious men, a group of his fellow Vietnam vets, who deserve a larger media platform than they've gotten.
Last month, 18 members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, composed mostly of ex-sailors who served under, above, or in the same Mekong theater as the former patrol-boat leader, stood before a microphone at the National Press Club in Washington to assail Mr. Kerry's wartime service and denounce his later peacenik calumnies against them and all Vietnam veterans.
The criticism was withering. Retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffman, chairman of the group, called then-Lt. (jg) Kerry "a loose cannon" who "in an abbreviated tour of four months and 12 days, bugged out and began his infamous betrayal of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam War." Regarding Mr. Kerry's three Purple Hearts--the requisite number to leave the war zone--retired Cmdr. Grant Hibbard remembers how Kerry allegedly collected one of them after a mission: "The briefing revealed that they [the crew] had not received any enemy fire, and yet Lt. (jg) Kerry informed me of a wound--he showed me a scratch on his arm and a piece of shrapnel in his hand that appeared to be from one of our own M-79s [grenade launchers]. It was later reported to me that Kerry had fired an M-79, and it had exploded off the adjacent shoreline. He later received a Purple Heart for that scratch."
What of young Kerry's combat competence? Steven Gardner, a Swiftie who served with Mr. Kerry, alleges that the boat commander's "indecisive moves put our boats in jeopardy, put our crews in jeopardy." Mr. Hoffman characterized his former underling as "aggressive, but vain and prone to impulsive judgment."