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Wednesday, October 20, 2004 2:57:56 AM

Re: ergo sum post# 75056

Post# of 495952
The Bronze Star



The Bronze Star involved the March 13, 1969 incident in which a mine went off under PCF-3 and Jim Rassmann was thrown off Kerry’s boat, PCF-94. Kerry returned to pull Rassmann from the water in what the Kerry camp has characterized as a heroic “no man left behind” effort. Unfit for Command charged that after the initial mine explosion under PCF-3, commanded by Dick Pees, there was no more hostile fire. We further maintained that of the five boats involved in the incident, three remained on the scene and went to the aid of PCF- 3. Only Kerry fled for safety, accelerating so fast that he caused Rassmann to fall off the boat.

The Kerry camp noted that Larry Thurlow had also received a Bronze Star for the March 13 incident, a commendation which also listed enemy fire. This, the Kerry camp argued, proved that in the Rassmann incident there was enemy fire as Kerry described. But Thurlow was surprised to receive the Bronze Star because he knew the incident did not involve hostile fire, with the exception of the single mine that exploded under PCF-3. What he did not realize was that his decoration derived from the fabricated description of small arms and automatic weapons fire that Kerry had invented to justify his own decorations.

All total, eleven men on the river that day have confirmed that there was no enemy fire other than the mine explosion. In fact, after Rassmann was retrieved from the water, the boats remained in the same area for more than ninety minutes to rescue the damaged boat. Throughout that time, they suffered no hostile fire as opposed to what Kerry would have people believe. There was no report of any casualties, or serious damage to any of the other boats. As for Kerry’s “bleeding arm,” the military records show that it was a minor contusion—a small bruise—and that a cold cloth was recommended as the only treatment.

As the debate over Kerry’s Bronze Star progressed, a eulogy Kerry entered into the Congressional Record in 1998 gave support to the contention that Rassmann was thrown off his boat into the Bay Hap River when Kerry accelerated out of danger in the March 13 incident
. 12 The eulogy was for Kerry’s crewmember, Thomas Belodeau, who incidentally had been on the record as having been the gunner who wounded the fleeing Viet Cong youngster in Kerry’s Silver Star incident.13

<<<<There was the time we were carrying special forces up a river and a mine exploded under our boat sending it two feet into the air. We were receiving incoming rocket and small arms fire and Tommy was returning fire with his M-60 machine gun when it literally broke apart in his hands.

He was left holding the pieces unable to fire back while one of the Green Berets [Rassmann] walked along the edge of the boat to get Tommy another M-60. As he was doing so, the boat made a high speed turn to starboard and the Green Beret kept going— straight into the water. 14>>>>

That this version differs from what Kerry told his campaign biographer Douglas Brinkley or what was related to the Boston Globe reporters writing their biography are not surprising. John Kerry frequently relates multiple versions of the same story when he discusses his experience in Vietnam. Typical of Kerry, he magically transports the real mine trajedy of another boat, PCF-3, to his boat, a circumstance that all acknowledge exists only in Kerry’s report

The Kerry campaign has now changed its web site to reflect part of the truth. In an early version, the site said that the other boats fled while Kerry came back to rescue Rassmann. Now the site says that the other boats stayed, and it was Kerry’s boat that “turned” back. It was the longest turn in Swift Boat history.

Reviewing this record, the evidence coming forward to date, including the analysis of the various March 13, 1969 after-action reports supports the version of the Bronze Star story as told in Unfit for Command. The verdict here is as before: Advantage, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.


1. How can you maintain that the incident occurred as you claimed when the testimony of others and the physical evidence undermines your version of the events?

2. You have two descriptions of how Rassmann fell off the boat, one is by a second mine, the other is that he fell off your boat when it sped away. Which is the truth? the lie?

3. When you came back, wasn’t another boat also proceeding to rescue Rassmann, and not the situation in which you had earlier claimed in your January 17, 2004 press release that while the “other swift boats were evacuating the area, [your] boat chose to turn their boat toward the ambush to save Rassmann.

4. Why was no one and nothing hit in the 75-yard canal when you claimed that the boats were receiving 5,000 meters of fire from both banks.

5. Do you admit that the damage to the boats occurred the day before, as described on page 304 of Tour of Dury?

6. Did you prepare the after-action report of the incident?


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