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Wednesday, October 20, 2004 3:36:38 AM

Re: ergo sum post# 75056

Post# of 495952
The Silver Star



Following the publication of Unfit for Command, several distinct lines of controversy developed over John Kerry’s Silver Star decoration.

On August 20, 2004, Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer, experts on the authentication of military records and decorations, published on the Internet an article that disclosed that Kerry’s military form DD 214 (a record of military separation or transfer prepared by the veteran) listed that Kerry’s Silver Star award included a combat “V” for valor. This form, archived on Kerry’s campaign website, was clearly in error. The Silver Star, the third highest medal bestowed by our nation’s military, is by definition a combat award, hence the combat “V” is never issued with a Silver Star because to do so would be redundant. As the Holzers commented:

<<<<The presence of the combat “V” with Kerry’s Silver Star on his DD 214 raises two extremely disquieting questions. How did the unauthorized “V” get there, and why has Kerry allowed it to remain?>>>>

The first question should not be taken lightly because we are talking about possible federal crimes. We are talking about the possibility of a forged official document

We are talking, as well, about Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, which states: “[W]hoever, in any manner within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the United States know- ingly and willfully . . . makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.”

Was the combat “V” added by a sloppy clerk or a yeoman’s typo thirty years ago? Was someone pressured or persuaded to add it? If Kerry had nothing to do with the gratuitously added combat “V,” why didn’t he have his DD 214 corrected when he was separated from the Navy?

Which gives rise to the second disturbing question: If Kerry was not a party to the unauthorized “V,” why, for all these years, has he allowed his DD 214 to remain uncorrected and to repose on his website? 17

This observation became even more puzzling once Kerry’s DD 215 was examined. Kerry’s form DD 215, also on his website, was filed in 2001 to correct his DD 214, originally filed in 1970. In the corrected form, Kerry applied to add four bronze stars to his previously awarded Vietnam Service Medal, upgrading the award; however, the corrected form left unchanged the award mention of Kerry’s Silver Star with the unauthorized “V.

On August 24, 2004, the Holzers published a second article revealing that John Kerry had not one citation for his Silver Star, but three different citations, “an unheard of number for a single award.”
18 The first citation includes the familiar account where Kerry leaps from PCF-94, pursues a fleeing Viet Cong armed with a rocket launcher and kills him. Although the second citation is undated, the Holzers argue that it was most likely issued in 1970. The second citation is shorter than the first and is significantly different because it omits any mention of the Viet Cong springing up from a spider hole, carry- ing a rocket launcher, and being pursued by Kerry who shot him in the back. The third citation, also undated, is similarly sanitized, though this time it is signed by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, who held this position from February 1981 to April 1987. The Holzers speculate as to why John Kerry would have sought to have the second version of the citation issued:

<<<<Citation 2 raises two important and intriguing questions. First, why would Kerry bother to have a second citation issued? The obvious answer is that he wanted to expunge from the record that he had shot a fleeing enemy soldier in the back. Another possible explanation, speculative though plausible, is found in the relative ranks held by Admirals Zumwalt (who signed the first citation) and Hyland (who signed the second citation) at the time. Zumwalt had “only” three stars, Hyland four. 19>>>>

Regarding the third version of the citation, the Holzers explain:

<<<<While it is not difficult to understand why Kerry apparently sought and obtained a sanitized second version of his Silver Star citation, at first glance it is not so easy to surmise why Kerry went after yet a third citation, this time from Lehman (especially because the third citation is word-for-word, in every important respect, the same as the second). One theory dovetails with what may well have motivated him, at least in part, to prefer Hyland’s imprimatur over Zumwalt’s. Kerry, now a senator, may have been trying to upgrade his award, issued by a couple of “mere” admirals to one issued by the Secretary of the Navy. 20>>>>

The controversy over the issuance of the Silver Star citations did not stop here. On August 28, 2004, reporter Thomas Lipscomb wrote an article revealing that he had contacted former Navy Secretary John Lehman and Lehman disclosed that he had no idea where the Silver Star citation on John Kerry’s website
(the third version signed by Lehman) came from. According to Lipscomb, Lehman was at a loss to explain how his signature got on the award:

<<<<“It’s a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me,” he said. 21>>>>

And again:

<<<<Asked how the citation could have been executed over his signature without his knowledge, Lehman said: “I have no idea. I can only imagine they were signed by an autopen.” The autopen is a device often used in the routine execution of executive documents in government. 22>>>>

Kerry’s campaign had no specific explanation for these oddities regarding the citation. At best, the campaign claimed the “V” designation on Kerry’s DD 214 resulted from a clerical error, with no reason given for why Kerry never corrected the error. Regarding the three versions of the Silver Star, the Kerry campaign was similarly silent
, noting only that the citations were all evidently legitimate since they were issued—an answer which avoided the basic questions regarding why and how the multiple versions of the citation came into existence.

On August 21, 2004, the Kerry campaign persuaded William Rood to make a public statement favorable to Kerry regarding the Silver Star incident. Rood, an editor for the Chicago Tribune, overcame his reluctance to speak out in order to make one statement attacking the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth and supporting John Kerry. Specifically, Rood argued that the charges in Unfit for Command were untrue, claiming that “What matters most to me is that this is hurting crewmen who are not public figures and who deserved to be honored for what they did.” 23

Still, Rood’s description of the Silver Star incident was fundamentally in agreement with that given in Unfit for Command. There we charged that the action to beach the boats and charge inland was preagreed among the three boat commanders involved in the action—a tactic thought likely to result in commendations. Rood’s account supported this point:

<<<<We agreed that if we were not crippled by the initial volley and had a clear fix on the location of the ambush, we would turn directly into it, focusing the boats’ twin .50-caliber machine guns on the attackers and beaching the boats. We told our crews about the plan. 24>>>>

Rood’s only significant point of difference was his contention that the Viet Cong killed was not a “young Viet Cong in a loincloth” as we had written in Unfit for Command.

As Rood explained:

<<<<I have no idea how old the gunner Kerry chased that day was, but both Leeds and I recall that he was a grown man, dressed in the kind of garb the VC usually wore.>>>>

Still, mainstream press reporters touted Rood’s statement as confirmation that the account in Unfit for Command was discredited. 25 But in the Kerry biography written by the Boston Globe reporters (who claim to know him best) also noted that the Viet Cong was a teenager in a loincloth. The Globe reporters interviewed more than ten participants in the action that day.

The media bias of the mainstream liberal media was obvious: Within hours of the Chicago Tribune’s Saturday afternoon announcement that William Rood had decided to go public with his Kerry defense, more than 1,500 news outlets were touting the story on their web sites, with the Associated Press offering no fewer than 10 updates.

Had the story been supportive of the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, few if any of these news outlets would have considered the story worth covering.

Ted Koppel in Nightline, also tried to discredit the account in the book by traveling to Vietnam to interview Vietnamese who supposedly witnessed the action that day
. Under the watchful eye of a Vietnamese Communist “minder,” the Viet Cong survivors told Nightline that there was an intense firefight between approximately twenty Viet Cong and the swift boat crews at the landing site, and that the individual killed by Kerry was a grown man, about twentysix or twenty-seven-years-old, wearing a type of uniform typically worn by the Viet Cong.

In the program, Koppel tried to associate the action that involved the other Swift Boats that fought the Viet Cong with Kerry’s separate landing. Koppel’s story is not supported by the after-action report, the Kerry biography written by the Boston Globe reporters, or the witnesses interviewed by the authors. Moreover, the account of the lone Viet Cong had been previously related to Koppel by Kerry’s crewmembers in an earlier Nightline show on June 24, 2004. In fact, in Kerry’s own authorized biography Tour of Duty, on page 296, Brinkley writes: “[Kerry] could not stop wondering: Instead of one VC with a B-40 in the spider hole, what if there had been three, or five, or ten?”

Unfit for Command’s major charge concerning Kerry’s Silver Star was not that his actions constituted a war crime. Rather, our major contention was that Kerry’s action was not meritorious. (my edit - the key for earning the Silver Star was the false contention that Kerry faced a numerically superior force, when by all accounts, including Kerry's own personal account
{excepting the miraculously found Nightline peasants with communist "minders" present}, it was the lone, wounded young man Kerry is said to have killed)

In review of the controversy over the Silver Star, Unfit for Command’s argument is intact. Kerry killed a fleeing Viet Cong, most likely one who was already wounded, an action not reaching the level of valor expected of one awarded a Silver Star. We are not surprised to learn that Kerry’s revisions of the citation sanitized the incident by removing altogether any mention of the fleeing Viet Cong shot in the back.

Verdict: Advantage, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.


1. Did you write the after-action report for this incident?

2. Why does the after-action report differ from the eyewitness accounts?

3. Why are there three different citations for your Silver Star medal?

4. How did you come to have a “V” on the citation?


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