The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

John Kerry: He's Milking it, He's Milking it!!!


Patrick Hurley • September 30th 2004

Either the Democratic Party establishment is blatantly hypocritical, or, profoundly schizophrenic, towards the concept of the war veteran as president.

Not only did draft dodger Bill Clinton avoid service in Vietnam, he also evaded service in the National Guard. To compound matters, as a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, he besmirched the Washington War effort and denigrated U.S. troops. However, in 1992, we were persuaded by the Democratic Party establishment, including Senator John Kerry, that whether one served or didn’t serve, or, whether one protested or didn’t protest, was irrelevant. America had moved on.

Clinton was challenged in his re–election bid by Senate Majority leader Bob Dole, a decorated World War 2 veteran. Dole experienced a lengthy, painful recuperation from combat wounds suffered during the Italian campaign of 1944. He never fully recovered. Again, the electorate was persuaded that combat service on behalf of the nation was no longer a relevant qualification for the Presidency.

Now, the Democrats have made an audacious volte-face. Senator John Kerry is “reporting for duty”. The substance of his presidential campaign is his four months as commander of a Swift Boat - a small inshore combat vessel - in Vietnam. The usual tour of combat was one year. Kerry seems to have packed more action and drama into his four months, than GI Joe did in a lifetime. Indeed, from his telling, his brief sojourn seems to have generated enough material for several epic war movies and then some.

The senator was awarded three purple hearts for insignificant wounds received under circumstances, which are challenged by the vast majority of his erstwhile comrades, subordinates and superiors. He also received the Bronze Star and the Silver Star, again under questionable circumstances. By his account, he even succeeded in been awarded a Combat V on his Silver Star; a decoration which the U.S. Navy has never issued.

Kerry, also, managed to celebrate Christmas 1968, on a covert mission, in Cambodia, apparently on the orders of President Nixon. Nixon, of course, did not become president until late January 1969. In 1986, Senator Kerry told Congress that this experience of invading a neutral country on Nixon’s orders was “seared, seared” into his psyche. The increasing number of inconsistencies raised by veterans, historians and journalists, and the glaring lack of corroboration from his immediate crewmembers, has caused Kerry to retreat from that legend.

Back in the United States, the senator became a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), a group, which seriously considered assassinating members of Congress. In 1971, he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that U.S. troops had perpetrated war crimes as official U.S. Government policy. They "had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable phones to human genitals…. cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan….poisoned foodstocks…" The testimony was subsequently discredited as fabrication.

Kerry's words were used by the North Vietnamese to mentally torture and demoralize U.S. POWS like Lieutenant General John Flynn and Capt. Tom Collins. As the New York Post columnist, Deroy Murdock opined recently: "Imagine the prospect of hearing from the Oval Office the same voice your jailers used 33 years ago to break your mind in two."

The totality of Kerry's campaign resume is his four months of combat duty. Blatant hypocrisy for a man who smeared America's war effort, and slandered a whole generation of GIs. As a Vietnam veteran recently wrote to a newspaper: “Kerry and his ilk …denigrated the military and America… Now Kerry wants to use the war as a prop and ‘report for duty’… It’s sickening".

Remarkably, but not unsurprisingly, Kerry has done little promotion of his two decades in public office. An unremarkable, reactionary legislative career, devoid of achievement. Nor has Kerry spelled out how he would respond to contemporary challenges, be it the War on Terrorism, or, the economy. By the most recent count, he has propounded eight mutually contradictory positions on the terrorist war. All we know is that he is fundamentally defeatist, the anti-Dubya. Everything Bush is for, Kerry is against. Although, after all his flip-flopping, even that is difficult to ascertain.

Kerry's touting of his combat record was bound to awaken contrary ghosts. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group consisting of the vast majority of Kerry's Swift Boat comrades is airing devastating TV advertisements questioning the integrity of his combat service, and highlighting his slanderous anti war campaigning. The senator is trying to dismiss its efforts as part of a Republican smear campaign. However, former lieutenant John O'Neill, a three-year Vietnam veteran, and others among the leadership, have a long, independent record of challenging Kerry.

Besides trying to deflect attention away from his senatorial non-record, Kerry's incessant promotion of his combat service endeavors to implicitly belittle Bush's record with the Texas Air National Guard. This tactic is antagonizing the entire constituency of highly motivated, part time, citizen soldiers of the state national guards. America's weekend warriors have fought in every major U.S. conflict since the revolutionary war, including Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan and now Iraq.

Bush's induction into the Texas Air guard was no guarantee of immunity from combat service in Vietnam. In the early 70's, Air Guard pilots, like Bush, flew 24,124 sorties over Southeast Asia. Eighty five percent of the Vietnam based 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron were guard pilots. Indeed, some of the most distinguished military units in U.S. military history, like the "Fighting 69th "and the Irish Brigade, have been national guard/state militia units. Current guard members are not enamored of Kerry's implication that their service is of a lesser commitment than that of the regular services.

The brouhaha has prompted much correspondence to the newspapers. A major theme has been the premise that “real heroes don’t brag”, thus, suggesting a lack of credibility in the senator’s accounts. One missive in the New York Post was particularly poignant:

“My older brother commanded the tank company that led the drive on Kuwait City. He was the first officer at the ’highway of death', decorated with two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, and brought all his boys home … his family only learned about this when he wore his dress blues with his Bronze Stars at my sisters wedding…." The writer continued: “My father also fought in the Dutch underground …in World War 2. I only learned about that just before he died in 1979. He became a doctor ‘to make up for what I did’… Killing a man is a hell of a thing. Real men don’t brag about it.”

Another wrote:

“My oldest brother served for more than 16 months in Vietnam returning with a real Bronze Star … he has refused to talk about it …nor does he brag about being a war hero.”

Kerry of course is not the only contemporary U.S. politician to have served in combat. In addition to army veteran Senator Bob Dole, President George Bush (senior) is a decorated World War 2 naval fighter pilot. Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey left part of his leg in Vietnam and was decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Senator John McCain, a naval fighter pilot, spent five years as a POW in Hanoi, resisting physical and mental torture. In refusing to be repatriated in an obvious NVA propaganda effort, he vowed to only leave "with the last man". As national figures, their war service is part of their public profiles. However, most "never talk about it", and if they do, unlike John Kerry, it is usually in humble self - deprecation.

Then, there is our old friend in the County Cork Association of New York. In the late 1940's, our friend, still in his teens, left his County Cork village to carve out a life in New York. Within a year or two, he was, like thousands of other young Irish immigrants, in U.S. Army uniform. On the Korean peninsula, he found himself serving Uncle Sam as a forward artillery observer. One of the most dangerous assignments, a County Kerry veteran of that conflict once told me.

I first became aware of our friend's war hero bona fides during a barroom conversation. "'So and so' has a pile of medals from Korea but he never talks about it," I was informed. Some months later, I was poring through old banquet journals in the dusty bowels of the Cork building, when I came across one with a picture of our tuxedo clad friend smiling roguishly out at me. He had been honored by the association some years before. Not been one for pomp and ceremony, I had visions of his wife forcing him into the finery.

On another page was a copy of a Bronze Star citation. His wife obviously retrieved it from the attic and covertly slipped it to the journal committee. It read as follows:

"Sergeant ‘So and So' is cited for meritorious service …against the enemy during the period 20th March to 24th November 1951… Sergeant 'So and So' as Observation Post Chief demonstrated conspicuous bravery and leadership… Often faced with severe enemy small arms, artillery and mortar fire, he and his crew were responsible for… the destruction of more than fifty enemy supply vehicles. His aggressiveness and skill resulted in many casualties being inflicted on the enemy… The outstanding devotion to duty, initiative and ability displayed by Sergeant 'So and So' reflects great credit upon himself and the military service."

Our friend has never worn his battlefield heroism on his sleeve. He has never tried to parlay it into anything advantageous. He was never an active member of any veterans’ groups and he has avoided commemoration ceremonies. On his return from Korea, he joined the NYPD and, after a distinguished career, retired as a highly decorated detective.

In an organization like the County Cork Association, whenever two or more are gathered, “chops” and "liathroidi" will inevitably be broken, and “balls will be hopped”, all in good fun. Our friend is frequently teased on the approach of commemorative occasions like Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. "You'll be on parade with all your medals," we bait. "They're milking it. They're milking it," he cries, in response to what he considers as excessive ceremony.

Our friend, a grandfather, with his fingers still in many pies, is too busy living life to the full, to dwell on the heroism and horrors of a war he fought over 50 years ago. Like the vast majority of veterans, he regards his military service as but one line on the resume of life. Regarding John Kerry, as our friend would say, he's "milking it, milking it!"

As they say, "Real heroes don't talk about it."

Patrick Hurley is president of the Regular Republican Club, 30th Ad (Woodside-Maspeth) Queens, New York City, and a member of the Queens County Executive of the Republican Party. He is also an officer of the County Cork Association of New York.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

2 October 2004

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John Kerry: He's Milking it, He's Milking it!!!
Patrick Hurley

Ultimate Deadline by Endless Postponement
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Say it in Breac'n English (Part Two)
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Tears of Women Heal the World
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When a Beautiful Soul Comes to Visit
Mary La Rosa

Via Haiti US megaphones Venezuela: "Will you comply?!"
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Intimidation of a Writer
Anthony McIntyre

Say it in Breac'n English
Seaghán Ó Murchú

An Open Letter to the Man Known as "Martin Ingram"
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Philosophy in a Time of Terror
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Diary: 3 Days
Elana Golden



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