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Defending John Kerry - Or Maybe Not

There has been a growing controversy about John Kerry's Silver Star. The problem lies with the fact that Kerry's DD214 says he got a "Silver Star with combat V" for Valor. That's a problem because combat V's are not awarded on Silver Stars, only Bronze Stars.

So he's nailed right? Kerry claims he got an award that does not exist, right? Wrong. I'm not a liberal moonbat and I'm certainly not Kos.

If you google "silver star with valor" you will see the very first link is "Soldier Awarded Silver Star with Valor" from a Dept. of Defense website. So how do they reconcile?

The Silver Star is a valor award. By definition it is given for valor, so no 'V' is required. So it looks like his DD214 was typed by the "Department of Redundancy Department." Things like this are not uncommon, a government facility near here has what the workers call the 'VAB Building.' VAB stands for 'Vertical Assembly Building' so when workers are in effect calling it the 'The Vertical Assembly Building Building.'

I think we have an issue of semantics or a confused typist, not a true problem with Kerry's DD214. Things like this are not uncommon. Or I thought that.

The Sun Times however has a piece today that raises some interesting questions...

Plot thickens after checking records

In the midst of the controversy between the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Kerry campaign representatives about Kerry's service in Vietnam, new questions have arisen.

**V for valor stuff clipped**

Fake claims not uncommon

B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran himself, received the highest award the Army gives to a civilian, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, for his book Stolen Valor. Burkett pored through thousands of military service records, uncovering phony claims of awards and fake claims of military service. "I've run across several claims for Silver Stars with combat V's, but they were all in fake records," he said.

Burkett recently filed a complaint that led last month to the sentencing of Navy Capt. Roger D. Edwards to 115 days in the brig for falsification of his records.

Kerry's Web site also lists two different citations for the Silver Star. One was issued by the commander in chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Adm. John Hyland. The other, issued by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman during the Reagan administration, contained some revisions and additional language. "By his brave actions, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant (j.g.) Kerry reflected great credit upon himself... ."

One award, three citations

But a third citation exists that appears to be the earliest. And it is not on the Kerry campaign Web site. It was issued by Vice Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, commander of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam. This citation lacks the language in the Hyland citation or that added by the Lehman version, but includes another 170 words in a detailed description of Kerry's attack on a Viet Cong ambush, his killing of an enemy soldier carrying a loaded rocket launcher, as well as military equipment captured and a body count of dead enemy.

Maj. Anthony Milavic, a retired Marine Vietnam veteran, calls the issuance of three citations for the same medal "bizarre." Milavic hosts Milinet, an Internet forum popular with the military community that is intended "to provide a forum in military/political affairs."

Normally in the case of a lost citation, Milavec points out, the awardee simply asked for a copy to be sent to him from his service personnel records office where it remains on file. "I have never heard of multi-citations from three different people for the same medal award," he said. Nor has Burkett: "It is even stranger to have three different descriptions of the awardee's conduct in the citations for the same award."

So far, there are also two varying citations for Kerry's Bronze Star, one by Zumwalt and the other by Lehman as secretary of the Navy, both posted on johnkerry.com.

Kerry's Web site also carries a DD215 form revising his DD214, issued March 12, 2001, which adds four bronze campaign stars to his Vietnam service medal. The campaign stars are issued for participation in any of the 17 Department of Defense named campaigns that extended from 1962 to the cease-fire in 1973.

However, according to the Navy spokesman, Kerry should only have two campaign stars: one for "Counteroffensive, Phase VI," and one for "Tet69, Counteroffensive."

94 pages of records unreleased?

Reporting by the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs points out that although the Kerry campaign insists that it has released Kerry's full military records, the Post was only able to get six pages of records under its Freedom of Information Act request out of the "at least a hundred pages" a Naval Personnel Office spokesman called the "full file."

What could that more than 100 pages contain? Questions have been raised about President Bush's drill attendance in the reserves, but Bush received his honorable discharge on schedule. Kerry, who should have been discharged from the Navy about the same time -- July 1, 1972 -- wasn't given the discharge he has on his campaign Web site until July 13, 1978. What delayed the discharge for six years? This raises serious questions about Kerry's performance while in the reserves that are far more potentially damaging than those raised against Bush.

Experts point out that even the official military records get screwed up. Milavic is trying to get mistakes in his own DD214 file corrected. In his opinion, "these entries are not prima facie evidence of lying or unethical behavior on the part of Kerry or anyone else with screwed-up DD214s."

Burkett, who has spent years working with the FBI, Department of Justice and all of the military services uncovering fraudulent files in the official records, is less charitable: "The multiple citations and variations in the official record are reason for suspicion in itself, even disregarding the current swift boat veterans' controversy."

Frankly I don't know what to think. I nuked the first argument but the other's I'm not so sure about. Military records are notoriously sloppy. But unlike the Bush AWOL records, there really are some curious anomalies here. How one gets three different citations, a decade or more apart, for a single award puzzles me.

One thing is clear, the drumbeat for Kerry to release his military records is only going to get louder. As well it should.


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Comments (17)

Improper wear of the V-devi... (Below threshold)
Joe:

Improper wear of the V-device was a contributing factor to Admiral Boorda's suicide. So, in some people's eyes, it might not be just a little detail.

My favorite version of this... (Below threshold)
Steve the Llamabutcher:

My favorite version of this were the guys in college who wore their "BC High School" hockey jackets, for Boston College High School.

'kay.

Having three different cita... (Below threshold)
Vulgorilla:

Having three different citations for the same medal, more than a decade apart, smells to high heaven! Add to this the fact that he was discharged six years late tells me there's something very, very wrong here that only the full disclosure of his military records can clear up.

I now strongly feel that there's a major reason he doesn't release his records, but by not doing so, he leaves us no alternative but to fantasize just how bad they might be.

I'm afraid you haven't 'nuk... (Below threshold)

I'm afraid you haven't 'nuked' the first argument. The DOD is very picky about the way things are worded on the DD214... I remember mine having to be checked and rechecked and re-doublechecked for accuracy, because both the writer and the service person could catch major trouble for error. Anyhow, like Burkett mentioned in the article, mention of a Combat "V" with a Silver Star is one indicator that points investigators to fraudulent records.

Before you attempt to erase the distinction, perhaps you should check how the Silver Star is SUPPOSED to be worded on a DD-214. There is a difference between a medal given "with Valor" and the combat "V" device. SECNAVINST 1650.1G states the appropriate use of the Combat "v" as follows:

Bronze "V" (Combat Distinguishing Device).
Prior to 4 April 1974, the "V" was authorized for wear on
the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service
Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal and Navy
Achievement Medal. Between 4 April 1974 and 17 January
1991, the "V" was authorized for wear on the Distinguished
Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Joint Service
Commendation Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. On 17
January 1991, the "V" was authorized for wear on the Legion
of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal,
Air Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. The "V" is
authorized for wear on these decorations if the award is
for acts or services involving direct participation in
combat operations. In all cases, the Combat Distinguishing
Device may only be worn if specifically authorized in the
citation.

The combat "V" is NOT authorized for the Silver Star, since the medal itself is awarded for valor. This leaves the following possibilities: The writeup is fraudulent; or the writer made a serious clerical error (and his/her supervisor passed it over).

As opposed to a "drumbeat f... (Below threshold)
Rance:

As opposed to a "drumbeat for Kerry to release his military records", I'd like to see a drumbeat for the release of an Iraq exit strategy, or a jobs strategy, or a health care strategy, by either of the candidates.

This site used to have some class. Now it's just slid down into the "Gottcha" muck with all the other partisan sites, on both sides.

I tend to subscribe to cler... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

I tend to subscribe to clerical error theory. I had to have mine corrected twice.

However, the fact remains that Kerry, despite promising months ago (to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press") to release ALL of his records, still has not done so. I'd also like to be able to see Kerry's journal, unfiltered by Brinkley.

If Kerry's got nothing to hide, then he's just hurting himself.

We are still waiting for al... (Below threshold)
x:

We are still waiting for all of W's military records as well.....it's pathetic that deferment Cheeney and Awol bush are nitpicking Kerrys record. Lets talk about Jobs, Health Insurance, almost 1000 dead soldiers and zero wmds.

zero wmds.U... (Below threshold)
y:

zero wmds.

Uh, hey x, is zero as high as you can count? 'Cuz they've already found more than zero.

Like you give two shits whether there were 100, 1000, or 10000 dead soldiers.

Asswipe.

it's pathetic that defer... (Below threshold)
Cz:

it's pathetic that deferment Cheeney and Awol bush are nitpicking Kerrys record.

Best as I can read, hear and see, "Cheeney"/Bush are not nitpicking Kerry's military record, but a group of his fellow VietNam Vets are.

Bush & Company, however, are nitpicking Kerry's non-military record, which seems quite legitimate in an election.

Y,One dead soldier... (Below threshold)
x:

Y,

One dead soldier is too many. Not to mention the unknown amout of Iraqis (both military and Civilian)that we killed with our indescriminate bombing. And the numerous other atrocities that have happened as a result of the invasion and destruction of the country's infrastructure. When I speak of WMD's I mean real missles, chemical weapons, or any of the 'iminent' threats we were promised prior to the invasion. I don't consider a few spores in a lab fridge, the infamous "mobile weapons labs" or the one rusty short range artilery shell (left over from the Iran war) that they found as "WMDs". As for caring whether soldiers die, 2 members of my family - my brother and his wife are both in the reserves (following active duty) and she has been activated and is about to ship to Iraq. Although they both volunteered for duty, I feel that the best way that I can support them is to do whatever I can to make sure we (the United States) are not risking their lives without a good reason. If that involves being called "asswipe" by you, so be it.

x

Ya, V stands for I don't dr... (Below threshold)

Ya, V stands for I don't drink and drive.

The "V" device isn't just a... (Below threshold)

The "V" device isn't just awarded for the Bronze Star; it's also sometimes awarded for the Army/Navy Commendation medals.

The Silver Star is always for valor so it would be redundant to award it with a "V" device or to specify that it was awarded for valor.

Goodness knows why the DD214 would be wrong. I reject the "Kerry forged it" argument out of hand. No one disputes that he was awarded the Silver Star. Some dispute whether he should have, not that he was.

JamesI guess I sho... (Below threshold)
Paul:

James

I guess I should have killed a few more pixels... The only award Kerry got *that was also eligible for a V* was the Bronze star.

If you follow the link where I said it was awarded for Bronze stars, it explains it.

I nuked that part of the debate, the rest of it I'm not so sure about.

X said, "One dead soldie... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

X said, "One dead soldier is too many."

Your statement reveals a total lack of understanding of the purposes and missions of our nation's military. My father, my brother, my son and I were (and in my son's case, still is) willing to give our lives for our country. And our reasons and rationales for that willingness does not revolve around you, other than as on of almost 300 million people.

Not mentioned in the above ... (Below threshold)
recon:

Not mentioned in the above article but ALSO significant is that Kerry has TWO citations for his Bronze Star in addition to the THREE for his Silver Star.

The second Bronze Star citation was also upgraded in language and signed or autopen-signed by SECNAV Lehman.

Pandora's Box -- the gift that just keeps giving and giving.

So here's a possible reason... (Below threshold)
Bill M:

So here's a possible reason for multiple citations.

It is possible to petition for correction of records and for correction of citations. There has to be a reason, of course. The general reasons are correction of an error or to correct an injustice.

I speculate, and that's all it is, that Johnny boy peritioned to have his medals upgraded. This would be the "injustice" that needs to be corrected. I can see him petitioning to have the Silver Star upgraded to the Navy Cross due to his incredible heroics. Along with the usual paperwork and an updated justification for the medal, there would also have to be an updated citation.

If you notice the language differences between the first Silver Star citation and the two following citations, you will see much more flowery language and "acknowledgement" of his individual bravery. This new language would be consistent with a higher level award. If the award upgrade is not approved, I believe it is possible that it would be closed out with an update to the citation, using the provided new wording. I don't know precisely how this all works as my own time in service is now long past (1969-1989).

In any case, this is a possibility. The records would show whether this is true or not as all the documentation should be there. I can't think of any other reason why there would be multiple citations, especially one new one from almost twenty years later!!!


Boyd,As a veteran ... (Below threshold)
the professor:

Boyd,

As a veteran myself I agree with your statement "My father, my brother, my son and I were (and in my son's case, still is) willing to give our lives for our country."

However, our troops in Iraq are there to "liberate the Iraqi people", remember? They are giving their lives for Iraq, not the US. Are you willing to give your life for an Iraqi to be free? How many American lives are worth Iraqi freedom? How many Iraqis are we willing to kill in order to ensure they are free...(I guess if we kill them all, they will be free, right?)

Whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power was no threat to my individual freedoms here in America. As for the argument, "he was trying to (or going to) acquire weapons of mass destruction"...let's rid the world of WMD's, we will lead by example, starting with our own. We shall destroy all our nukes, all our nerve gas stockpiles, all our biologicals. Then and only then will be in any moral position to demand any other nation to get rid of/not develop their own. What we need them for self-defense, as a deterrent? Well maybe that is what other countries want them for...WMDs seem to work. We haven't attacked North Korea. We aren't going into Iran anytime soo because we don't know if they have a nuke or not.

What if Pakistan thinks India is going to be a threat in teh next 5-10 years? Can Pakistan pre-emptively launch one of its nukes on New Dehli? Our administration says, "Sure, you can attack anyone you feel may be a threat in the future."
Or is it that we only attack the countries that will offer no real resistance?

And even if Hussein was a threat, now that he is gone, who is the next "boogey man" we need to be afraid of to justify the war without end in which we are now engaged? The president isn't concerned with Osama anymore. It seems Al Sadr has calmed down now...Who is next? Let's go help the Russians fight their Chechen terrorists...after all it is the Global War on Terrorism. The we can hop over to Sri Lanka and eradicate the Tamil Tigers. The stop off in an Irish pub before taking care of the IRA. Who next? The president now says that we will win, but it won't be a convential victory, no peace treaty, etc. How will we know we have won? That is the question that cannot be answered.

The US is all in a huff about Iran not letting inspectors in to see what they are up to WRT their nuclear program. How come there has never been any UN inspection of Israel's nuclear facilities?




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