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WaPo *Finally* digs up military records

FINALLY! The Washington Post gets some answers... They were stonewalled at first but the ever vigilant Post would not be denied! They did some major league sleuthing to get the story...

Military records counter a Kerry critic
Fellow skipper's citation refers to enemy fire

WASHINGTON - Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.

...Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act...

Heavy, Heavy, Sigh. What exactly is Thurlow running for? Do you think maybe *just maybe* the WaPo might actually take the time to do a Freedom of Information Act request for the guy who might be President of the United States?

Too much to ask I know.

I'd like to comment on the meat of this story but apparently the WaPo was not looking for answers, only to smear a Swift Boat Vet as they leave several key questions unasked.

The basic crux of the issue is that Thurlow says they were not under fire the day Kerry received his Bronze star but Thurlow got a Bronze star also that day and his citation says they were under fire.

This would be far more compelling if Thurlow had written the accounts of the day. Curiously (or not) the Post did not address who actually wrote Thurlow's citation. Presumably the same person who wrote Kerry's. The closest we get is this:

The Bronze Star recommendations for both Kerry and Thurlow were signed by Lt. Cmdr. George M. Elliott, who received reports on the incident from his base in the Gulf of Thailand. Elliott is a supporter of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and has questioned Kerry's actions in Vietnam. But he has refused repeated requests for an interview after issuing conflicting statements to the Boston Globe about whether Kerry deserved a Silver Star.

Heh- The last line is a lie and the Post knows it. (or they would if they read Wizbang!) The Boston Globe says Elliott changed his story. Elliott denies he changed his story and challenged the Globe to release the transcript of his interview which the Globe has refused to do. But I digress.

Back to the meat tofu of the story, we don't know who wrote the citation (or the recommendation) so holding it up as proof Thurlow is lying seems a stretch. But this is interesting:

As the senior skipper in the flotilla, Thurlow might have been expected to write the after-action report for March 13, but he said that Kerry routinely "duked the system" to present his version of events.

There have been many of reports of Kerry making sure his versions of events were taken down. If Kerry wrote the language for his own citation and the rest of the flotilla disputes his account, including a guy who benefitted from his account, this would be a whale of a story -- but the Post seems strangely disinterested in who wrote it.

From the Post's report it seems that Thurlow might have not have even heard the text of the citation until recently. I don't know enough about how the citations were given then to know if that seems plausible or not. The Post makes it sound reasonable.

"It's like a Hollywood presentation here, which wasn't the case," Thurlow said last night after being read the full text of his Bronze Star citation. "My personal feeling was always that I got the award for coming to the rescue of the boat that was mined. This casts doubt on anybody's awards. It is sickening and disgusting."

Thurlow said he would consider his award "fraudulent" if coming under enemy fire was the basis for it.

As well he should.

We may genuinely never know the truth about what happened 30 years ago in Vietnam. 4 guys on Kerry's boat say the whole flotilla was under fire, the rest of the flotilla says they were not.

I'm really not sure why the Post thought this so compelling if looked at realistically. If Kerry's citation said they were under fire it seems rather obvious the others issued for that day would say the same thing as well.

My BS detector tells me that someone knowing this pointed the Post to this but who knows.

What we DO KNOW is that the Washington Post is far more interested in discrediting Kerry's critics than they are checking Kerry's stories. We also know that the Post got at least one major fact wrong that was easy to verify.

I guess the Post decided if they do a hatchet job on 1 Swift Boat Vet then the other 249 are discredited by association. Or maybe they just have 249 more Freedom of Information Act requests still pending.

All things considered, I'm glad the Washington Post is checking all these Vietnam stories out... Now do you think they can check some of the stories the guy running for President is telling? Please? Please?


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» Petrified Truth linked with Unfit for Command

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» Bad Example linked with DEFENDING THURLOW

Comments (10)

You pretty much nailed it. ... (Below threshold)
Bucky Katt:

You pretty much nailed it. Normally, the citations that are written up for a single action will be consistent in writeup across each individual involved. Usually, one person does the write-ups, Admin will smooth them out. Unless Thurlow wrote up all the citations, then the Post story only holds water in one respect- that being that the citations are read during the presentation of the award and are given to the awardee. Therefore, an argument could be made that Thurlow knew the citation was incorrect but didn't say anything. Although, who knows, maybe Thurlow did say something and nothing was done. Don't rock the boat syndrome, etc. I think the WaPo is jumping to some premature conclusions on this one. But then most of the press doesn't understand how the military operates anyway.

Cheers.

I tend to dismiss Thurlows ... (Below threshold)
Marc:

I tend to dismiss Thurlows possibly of not knowing what the citation said. In most cases, As Bucky points out, the writeup is read to all present at the awards ceremony.

Granted this was war time and allowances were made. But I would also bet that it was presented far from enemy lines. Most probably at the SB base. An example is the well known photo of Kerry and crew receiving the Silver Star awards.

An interesting question would be to ask Thurlow if he has ever had an "I love me" display in his home.

Why? It is a very common practice for vets, even those with less than 20 years in, to display all the military awards on one wall at home (I live me wall). It would include all awards, medals, ribbons, mil school grad certificates, etc etc.

Look like those "brown book... (Below threshold)

Look like those "brown books" are starting to get some use, doesn't it?

Apparently so...although IM... (Below threshold)
Bucky Katt:

Apparently so...although IMHO the Post is overblowing this. If you asked me what the citation of my NAM says, 6 years after the fact, I couldn't tell you much other than the basic primary basis for it. The citation sits filed away somewhere in the house (and yes I have a "I Love Me" wall, but the medals and accompanying citations aren't up there).

To steal a BBC phrase, what's to say that the original set of citations weren't "sexed" up to include the "under enemy fire" to give it a better chance of getting through the system? This does happen. Does that make Thurlow a hypocrite? Possibly. Although you must give him credit for saying that he would consider his award to be fradulent if the "under fire" was the primary basis for it. Does it make Thurlow a liar about not coming under fire? Nope, and I wouldn't be using a medal citation to try and prove that point for the reasons I cited above.

I haven't gone back and looked but did anyone come out of this action with gunshot wounds from AK's? I would find it quite incredible that there was all this enemy small arms fire and not one crewmember suffers a gunshot wound?

Cheers.

Thurlow reports he became a... (Below threshold)
tanstaafl:

Thurlow reports he became aware of the award to him three months after he left the navy.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1194826/posts

Tanstaafl...that link is de... (Below threshold)
Bucky Katt:

Tanstaafl...that link is dead.

Larry Thurlow's statement is available at:
http://www.swiftvets.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3156

It is obvious to me that th... (Below threshold)
Dave:

It is obvious to me that the issue comes down to a group of pissed off Viet Nam vets that are mad about Kerry's post war activities and are making up/have selective memories about the war to try to discredit him in anyway possible since the people overwhelmingly buy his version of the story that he came back from Viet Nam discouraged and wanted to do something that he viewed as positive for the country and his fellow soldiers.

You can disagree with that but that is what most mainstream people believe was what happened. Since the SBVFT cannot win on that they are trying to "nit pick" relatively small pieces of the facts surrounding his service in Viet Nam to try to discredit him.

I believe in the end this will backfire - especially on the independent voters who can see through this stuff for what it is.

Dave

It is obvious to me that th... (Below threshold)
Dave:

It is obvious to me that the issue comes down to a group of pissed off Viet Nam vets that are mad about Kerry's post war activities and are making up/have selective memories about the war to try to discredit him in anyway possible since the people overwhelmingly buy his version of the story that he came back from Viet Nam discouraged and wanted to do something that he viewed as positive for the country and his fellow soldiers.

You can disagree with that but that is what most mainstream people believe was what happened. Since the SBVFT cannot win on that they are trying to "nit pick" relatively small pieces of the facts surrounding his service in Viet Nam to try to discredit him.

I believe in the end this will backfire - especially on the independent voters who can see through this stuff for what it is.

Dave

Dave, you're hilarious. The... (Below threshold)

Dave, you're hilarious. The Swifties have set their story in stone and are sticking to it. If anyone has been exhibiting selective memory it's Kerry and his Band of Toadies -- who haven't been able to stick to a single version of events even from the beginning of a press release until its end.

McGehee,Certaintly... (Below threshold)
Dave:

McGehee,

Certaintly the leadership has decent "command and control" over the SBVFT members, I do not deny that. If you read some of the "fact checking" non-partisan organizations on the subject and are truthful to yourself you will see there is change and subjectivity on both sides. The best that will come of this will be a "draw" of a "he said/he said" argument that happend 30 years ago with faded and jaded recollections on all sides.

The worst is linking them to the Republican spin machine and adding fuel to the fire that the Republicans have no positive agenda for America just attacks.

But keep on going with your thoughts on this subject as a Kerry supporter, I love it!!!!

Dave




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