The neverending war, pt II
The Mekong Delta
Once More a Nation Divided
By David H. Hackworth
But politics and style aside, Kerry did serve with distinction in Vietnam when he easily could have avoided that killing field. His service to his country shouldn’t be diminished by the same despicable, politically motivated tactics visited upon Sens. John McCain in South Carolina and Max Cleland in Georgia, also Viet vets. This kind of gutter-bashing doesn’t belong in American politics, and vets shouldn’t allow themselves to be used as ammo for cheap shots at one of their own.
The stalwart Brown Water Navy warriors who fought at Kerry’s side say he was A-OK, which is good enough for me. The muckrakers such as John O’Neill and his Swiftboat snipers – who didn’t sail on his boat but served anywhere from 100 meters to 300 miles away – are now coming off like eyewitnesses when in fact not one of their testimonies would hold up in a court of law. A judge would call these men liars and disallow their biased statements.
O’Neill and his chorus of haters are still in their get-Kerry mode. I suspect the decades-long fury is still fueled by Kerry’s high-profile anti-war stance when he returned home. That was a position that was taken by hundreds of thousands of other Viet vets, including myself in 1971 – which, according to Joe Califono's recent book, Inside: A Public Life, almost cost me my life.
McCain has already asked President Bush to distance himself from this “dishonest and dishonorable” attack. Advice that Bush should take one step further by ordering Vietnam draft-dodger Karl Rove and the rest of the character-assassination squad who zapped McCain and Cleland to back off. And then publicly stand tall and say that this type of behavior insults every vet who’s served America in peace and war.
As our commander in chief, Bush also needs to bear in mind that the U.S. Navy and its high standards for handling awards are now on trial as well. Hopefully, the president’s righteous actions will expedite that institution’s exoneration along with Lt. John Kerry’s heroism.
Hopefully, too, these angry, troubled vets still haunted by the Vietnam War will eventually find closure. But one thing I know for sure – it won’t come from fratricide.
David Hackworth, hardly a doctrinare liberal, was the distinguished commander of two battalions in Vietnam, one in the 9th Infantry Division, which provided the ground combat units for the Brown Water Navy, as the coastal naval units in Vietnam were called. If anyone knows the conditions of combat in the Delta, it's Hackworth.
This is a man who supported Bush in 2000 as well.
Hackworth became famous when he retired from the Army in 1971, he had lied about his age when he joined the Army as an enlistee in 1946, was given a battlefield commission in 1951 and rose to the rank of captain, and company commander, by 1952.
While some people disagree with him, he's respected by the current military because he's an advocate of average soldiers. But on something like this, Hackworth is a lot more credible than Bob Dole. Because not only was he there, he was a career soldier as both enlisted man and officer.
He also makes the point that this is a sad debate. John Kerry won his medals and these men didn't know anything about how he did it. They want to diminish him, but they only diminish their own deeds. It's a shame, John O'Neill slanders his own bravery and service to harm John Kerry, who seems to have had a reasonably successful life. All these men who served with Kerry risked their lives. They should be respected for that. Instead, they're going to be ridiculed and exposed as liars, and in the end, that is what people will remember, not the fact that they all served their country in a dangerous job.
Because if John Kerry was a fraud, by extension, aren't they all frauds? Aren't all their medals questionable? Even the men that died? Is that how they want to be remembered? Slandering the dead, as well as diminishing their own acts?
posted by Steve @ 12:29:00 PM