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Vet: Officers told Kerry to leave Vietnam
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 05/14/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Sen. John Kerry was told to leave Vietnam by three colleagues upset with his behavior and attitudes, according to a fellow swift-boat officer during the war.
Thomas Wright says the misbehavior of the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate got to the point where he no longer wanted him in his boat group. So, at Wright’s request, his divisional commander assigned Kerry to another group.
Then Wright and like-minded boat officers took matters into their own hands, according to John B. Dwyer, a Vietnam veteran and military historian writing in the online magazine American Thinker.
“When he got his third Purple Heart, three of us told him to leave,” Wright said, according to Dwyer. “We knew how the system worked and we didn’t want him in Coastal Division 11.
“Kerry didn’t manipulate the system,” he continued, “we did.”
Wright, who at times was officer-in-charge over Kerry, said he had occasion to observe Kerry’s behavior and attitudes, and the circumstances surrounding his early departure from the war zone.
Wright noted Kerry’s chosen moniker for radio communications between the boats was “Boston Strangler.”
The officer said he and most other swift-boat officers had two commandments: 1. Protect the crews. 2. Win.
But working with “Boston Strangler” became problematical, he said, according to Dwyer.
“I had a lot of trouble getting him to follow orders,” Wright recalled. “He had a different view of leadership and operations. Those of us with direct experience working with Kerry found him difficult and oriented toward his personal, rather than unit goals and objectives.”
Wright said he “believed that overall responsibility rested squarely on the shoulders of the OIC or OTC [Officer-in-Tactical Command] in a free-fire zone. You had to be right [before opening fire].”
However, he continued, “Kerry seemed to believe there were no rules in a free-fire zone, and you were supposed to kill anyone. I didn’t see it that way.”
The rules were vital, Wright emphasized, because it was important the enemy “understood that swift boats were a competent, effective force that could dominate his location.”
“You couldn’t achieve that by indiscriminate use of weapons in free-fire zones,” he said.
Wright referred to the three Purple Hearts awarded to Kerry, which allowed him to leave Vietnam for the U.S.
“No one wanted a Purple Heart because it meant we had made a mistake,” he said. “We made sure our crews were recognized, but no one took pride in a Purple Heart.”
More than a dozen of Kerry’s superior officers and colleagues during the war held a press conference May 4 in Washington to tell Americans the senator is unfit to be commander-in-chief of the United States.
Retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffman, who headed Coastal Division 11, said Kerry was seen by colleagues as a self-serving, “loose cannon” who came only to launch a political career.
Hoffman said Kerry “arrived in country with a strong anti-Vietnam War bias and a self-serving determination to build a foundation for his political future.”
“He was aggressive, but vain and prone to impulsive judgment, often with disregard to specific tactical assignments,” Hoffman said. “He was a loose cannon.”
Hoffman and his colleagues with the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are among more than 200 veterans who have signed a letter asking Kerry to authorize the Department of the Navy to release all of his military records, including health documents.
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