Thursday, August 26, 2004
Batman rips Robin: Adm. Schachte disputes Kerry's 1st Purple Heart claim in new Novak column
I'm told that now coming across the newswires is a new column from Bob Novak that contains extensive quotes from Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr.
Schachte, call-sign "Batman," has broken his press silence to insist that he was indeed aboard the Boston Whaler or "skimmer" in the early morning mission on December 2, 1968, out of which Sen. John Kerry's first Purple Heart was awarded. Schachte maintains that Kerry's minor arm wound was indeed the result of Kerry — code-named "Robin" on this mission — being careless in firing an M-79 grenade launcher. Other officers are quoted to support the likelihood of Schachte's presence.
I'll update this post when I can find the full Novak column online.
Update: There's a teaser in my comments.
Update (Fri Aug 27 @ 1:20am): Here is a report on Novak's column from Andy Soltis in Friday's New York Post, entitled "Enemy Never Wounded Kerry: Admiral":
An officer who served with John Kerry yesterday finally broke his silence about the Swift vets controversy — and said Kerry accidentally wounded himself before requesting his first Purple Heart. In a detailed new account that is certain to fuel the growing controversy, eyewitness William Schachte Jr., a retired rear admiral, told columnist Robert Novak for today's papers that he was "astonished" to hear Kerry's version of the events of Dec. 2, 1968, when Schachte was in command of Kerry aboard a skimmer boat on the Mekong River.
Schachte said that Kerry:
- Wasn't wounded by hostile fire.
- Wasn't even under fire by the enemy.
- "Nicked" himself with a grenade launcher and "requested a Purple Heart" afterward.
If Schachte's version is accurate, Kerry would not have been eligible for the award, the first of the three Purple Hearts he received.
No link yet for Novak's actual column.
Read the whole thing, twice.
So was Schachte on the Boston Whaler/skimmer with Kerry or not? To answer that question, say the word along with me now, just as Sen. Kerry — he of the searable memory — said it to Adm. Schachte when Senator recognized Admiral, after twenty years' separation from their night together on the Boston Whaler, in the U.S. Senate subway in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building:
[Editor's confession: I am so red in the face with embarrassment. In earlier updates I'd indicated that I didn't think Novak's column said anything one way or the other about whether there was or wasn't enemy fire. I'd thought I'd seen it on my first pass through, then couldn't find it again. But after further review, I've concluded that I was right the first time, and in my later looking, I just missed the very short, key lines:
Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, so he picked up the M-79 grenade launcher, Schachte said.
"I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," Schachte recalled.
I've shamelessly edited my updates and original post above to fit what I'd written in the first place before any editing, which is also what Novak's column actually says, because I think that would cause less confusion than a bunch of strikethroughs. Mea culpa maxima! Finally, I think Novak's wrong on one small detail — the "Batman" call-sign probably applied to Schachte, not the skimmer, per Unfit for Command (p. 36).]
Update (Fri Aug 27 @ 3:00am): Here's some info on Adm. Schachte (pronounced SHOCK-tee) from the law firm to which he's of counsel. It's written to emphasize his legal, not his combat, experience, but it looks to me like he was one of the top lawyers in the Navy by the time he retired. Note also that law school — University of South Carolina, J.D., 1973; George Washington University, LL.M., with highest honors, 1989 — came after Vietnam (as with John O'Neill), and that the words "war hero" aren't anywhere written (but feel free to draw your own inferences):
Bill Schachte (R. Adm. USN Ret.) has an extensive background in Naval and maritime issues.
After law school, he began his legal career assigned to the Naval Legal Service Office, Charleston, South Carolina. After receiving his Masters of Law, Rear Admiral Schachte served as the Head of the Law of the Sea Branch, International Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General. He was next assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs (ISA) and served as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the UN Conference on Law of the Sea. In 1984, Admiral Schachte was assigned as the Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General (Military Personnel) where he served as the JAG Corps community manager and was also responsible for managing the LDO (Law) and Legalmen (LN) communities. In 1986, he was assigned as the Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General (International Law), and additionally appointed by the Secretary of Defense as the Deputy DOD Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs. In May 1987, Admiral Schachte was appointed Acting DOD Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs while continuing to serve as Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General (International Law). Subsequently, the Secretary of Defense designated him DOD Representative for Ocean Policy Affairs again, representing both the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in that capacity until August 1989. In October 1992 Admiral Schachte was appointed Acting Judge Advocate General of the Navy. He served in these four assignments until he retired in October 1993.
During his distinguished Naval career, Admiral Schachte was a Vietnam volunteer and served in combat from January to December 1968. He also served as Executive/Operations Officer for Coastal Division Fourteen, Republic of Vietnam.
Admiral Schachte's personal decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Gold Star (in lieu of second award), the Bronze Star with "V", the Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star (in lieu of second award) and the Combat Action Ribbon.
I'd expect him to make a rather formidable witness.
The boats were manned by two officers and one enlisted person. Officers because officers were briefed daily. We had daily intelligence briefings seven days a week, with the latest intelligence from the area. Or in the patrolling boat – officers would come back and debrief their area. So, the officers had a good feel for everything that was going in our area of operation and our sectors.
The enlisted person operated the motor. Now, this was my idea. And I went on each one of these – in command of each one that we did up to and including the night with Lieutenant Junior Grade Kerry.
I did that because it was my idea and people volunteered for this. And I didn't think it was right having one of these operations and being on a swift boat or back at Operations Center or something like that.
As to the events of that night:
This night, we were in an area – I recall we were so close to the beach you could actually hear the water lapping on the shoreline. It was between two and three in the morning – I don't remember. I detected what I thought was some movement. So, I took one of the hand-held flares and popped it instantly. It went up and when it burst – I don't know if you've heard that described, but it really lights up the area. I thought I saw the same area of movement. So, I opened up on it with my M-60.
Those guns were double loaded with tracers – Tango India, target identification. And John, right after I opened up, opened up with his M-16 and I could see he was firing in the direction of my tracer fire, which is why we had the double-loaded tracer. My gun jammed after the first burst and as I was trying to clear my weapon – John's gun apparently jammed too because he wouldn't fire anymore – I heard the old familiar, ‘thump’ – ‘POW!’. And I looked, and John had fired the M-79 grenade launcher.
We were receiving NO fire from the beach. There were no muzzle flashes. The water wasn't boiling around the boat as it were – and the only noise was the noise we were making. So, I told the boat operator – the motor operator – to, you know, ‘let's leave the area.’ And we did, went back to port, eventually – went back to the swift boat and went back to port.
As to the immediate aftermath and Kerry's Purple Heart:
And that morning, I went in and debriefed my commanding officer – our division commander, then Lieutenant Commander [Grant] 'Skip' Hibbard.
And I told him what happened. And I told him I was NOT going to be filing an after-action report, which is required if you have enemy action, because we had no enemy action. And I also after giving him all the details and I said, 'Oh, by the way –' and I don't remember my exact words – 'John nicked himself with the M-79.' Those M-79s, by the way, have a kill radius of about five meters. A little over five yards. But, there is a shrapnel area beyond that. And that's what happened. And I was upset because that could have gone in somebody's eye and so on and so forth.
The division commander said, 'Fine, understand – no after-action report required.' Then, I found out that John had come in. And then I went back into a meeting and he had this small piece of shrapnel in his hand and he was requesting a Purple Heart. I was opposed to that. The division commander was opposed to that.
And John left our division four or five days later. I departed country maybe three weeks later. Skip left a few days after I left. So, we were all gone. And I forgot about it. Until some years later, someone told me – and I don't recall who – to my surprise, John had been awarded a Purple Heart for that incident.
And as to whether Sen. Kerry remembers being on the boat with Adm. Schachte:
And that's the way things were until about 20 years or so later. I was then an Admiral and I was in uniform – didn't have my hat on; I'd left that someplace in an office I was visiting. I was in the basement of the Senate Russell Office Building. And you have this subway system in the Capitol. I was waiting for a subway with a friend.
And he pointed – 'Look, that's Senator Kerry over there.' And I said, 'I know him.' And he said, 'You do?' And I hadn't seen or talked with John since Vietnam. And I guess I embarrassed my friend because I said, 'Hey, John!' Just like that. Well, he turned around, looked at me – it's about 20 paces away – and he kind of strolled over to me. And that call sign that night, if I haven't mentioned it, was 'Batman.' I think I have. But, John walked over to me and got kind of close and he said, 'Batman.'
Sounds to me like Bill Schachte's presence on that skimmer was seared into young Lt. Kerry's memory.
Again, read the whole thing. Myers did a fairly good job of probing Adm. Schachte's memories, motives, and so forth — even trying to bait him into name-calling (which he resolutely refused to do). Myers also did a new telephone interview with William Zaladonis, who continues to deny that Schachte was present.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Batman rips Robin: Adm. Schachte disputes Kerry's 1st Purple Heart claim in new Novak column and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
(1) mcg made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:49:37 PM | Permalink
I'm sure Novak has to finish gloating on Crossfire and head back to his office first :)
(2) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:59:35 PM | Permalink
Two things here, would raw rookie Kerry be allowed to command the mission by himself?
And, they made several trips back to the Swift during the night ferrying fishermen they'd discovered, to keep them from alerting any VC that there were US Navy out there. So, Schachte might not have always been on the whaler with Kerry, and the two enlisted men might be confused as to that.
(3) mcg made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 5:12:11 PM | Permalink
Exactly. I think it's real important to confine the accusations of lying to as small a circle as possible---to Kerry, specifically :) it is entirely possible for these other fellas to honestly believe what they are saying. But Kerry is the one that has been filing false reports and exaggerating his record.
(4) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 5:25:24 PM | Permalink
To someone not trained, possibly not even oriented on the M-79 and grabbing one in a hurry in the middle of the night, it would be a natural reaction to use it as a direct-fire weapon, firing low, firing short, firing 'danger close.' Armed at 30 meters, it wouldn't take too much of a ricochet to send shrapnel back at him --- AND EVERYONE ELSE IN THE BOAT!
This was Kerry's very first time out of the yard, according to his own notes, and he was fully-freaked out all night long.
This was probably not a good way to win friends, influence people, or display competence.
(5) ter0 made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 5:50:31 PM | Permalink
Here are a couple of links to specs and photos of the M-79 (no special knowledge just google)
Interesting fact from 2nd link: Max range 400 meters
(6) GT made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 6:04:50 PM | Permalink
The big problem with Schachte is that none of the three other guys (Kerry, Zeldonis, Runyon) remember him being there. As Runyon put it, he may not be the brightest guy in the world but he can count to three. I'll be curious to see where the oficers backing Schchte's claims where at the time.
The other problem is that so long as Kerry fired the weapon with the intention of hitting the enemy he still qualifies for a PH. That's how Bob Dole got his first PH. He threw a grenade badly and got hit by the explosion.
So Schachte would have to prove that Kerry did not fire with the intention of hitting the enemy, that he was goofing off or something.
GT -- we don't know whether or not Kerry remembers Schachte being on the boat. We only know what he says, not what he remembers.
(8) GT made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 6:37:22 PM | Permalink
Yes, I guess he bribed Zeldonis and Runyon, huh?
GT, that's not what the rules are, and that's definitely not an accurate description of Dole's first PH (in which there was no question whether he was in active combat with the enemy).
My excerpt from what I understand to be the current applicable regulation, which I believe substantially conforms to that which was in effect in 1968-1969 (boldface and underscoring mine throughout; same reg in .pdf form at pp. 18-19 of the .pdf file):
Paragraph 2-8, Army Regulation 600-8-22 (Military Awards) 25 February 1995
The Purple Heart was established by General George Washington at Newburgh, New York, on 7 August 1782, during the Revolutionary War. It was reestablished by the President of the United States per War Department General Orders 3, 1932 and is currently awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016, 25 April 1962 ....
a. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force ... who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded
(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.
(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged....
(4) As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.
(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force....
b. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not "recommended" for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria....
(2) A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above. A physical lesion is not required, however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.
(3) When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.
(4) Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the Purple Heart are as follows:
(a) Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action.
(b) Injury caused by enemy placed mine or trap.
(c) Injury caused by enemy released chemical, biological, or nuclear agent.
(d) Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft accident resulting from enemy fire.
(e) Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.
(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows: ....
(g) Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action.
(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence....
(6) It is not intended that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel. Commanders must also take into consideration the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria. Note the following examples: ...
(b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of "friendly fire" in the "heat of battle" will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the "friendly" projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.
(c) Individuals injured as a result of their own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their own negligence....
"[T]he degree to which the enemy caused the injury" thus isn't conclusive, but it's damned important. The "friendly fire" provision might have authorized a PH for someone else on the boat injured by Kerry's negligence, but wouldn't authorize it for him.
Note also reg. 2-17 (page 23 of the .pdf file):
(f) Each approved award of the Purple Heart must exhibit all of the following factors: wound, injury or death must have been the result of enemy or hostile act ...; the wound or injury must have required treatment by medical officials; and the records of medical treatment must have been made a matter of official Army records....
(i) A Purple Heart processed during wartime should be supported by sworn eyewitness statements or affidavits ...; casualty reports or messages ...; unit and medical journals; and such other documentation as necessary to corroborate the award.
The document signed by J.C. Carreon may squeak by to satify the medical records requirement, and the wound described by Dr. Letson (whom the Kerry forces have furiously tried to discredit, shamefully in my opinion) may also squeak by. But there may be other medical records that haven't been released. Nor has Kerry released the referenced eyewitness statements, casualty report, or after-action report. The SwiftVets' inference admittedly only that, because absense of evidence is not evidence of absence is that those documents don't exist, or that they're bogus on their face. Standard Form 180 would answer those questions, of course, but Kerry won't sign it.
GT, nobody's seriously arguing that anyone's been "bribed" but there may end up being a continuing conflict between some witnesses. In the advance version of the Novak column that I've read, Adm. Schachte is very insistent that he was aboard. Other witnesses recall having discussed Kerry's incident with him at the time. And he apparently invented this particular type of training and was always, habitually present the Navy wouldn't send a completely green guy like Kerry out on such an operation without a supervising training officer. So who's the supervising officer in the recollections of Zeldonis and Runyon?
(11) RP made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 7:17:27 PM | Permalink
Beldar et al:
Wow! I missed the free for all between GT and Polaris last night over the Bronze Star. I look for a reprise on the first Purple Heart when we really see what is going on with Schacte. Will the fray naturally side with "Admiral" Schacte or the natural comic Runyon who can count to three?
I think the debate about the medal specifics is interesting but I was ready to declare a draw between Polaris and GT, who did a very effective marshalling of all of the points made on the liberal and conservative blogs. I see no real way that a knock-out blow will be delivered.
What I want to point out is that for all of O'Neill's insistence that he is doing this for "the truth" and the "honor" of those he felt Kerry impugned, he has approached his task very much as an defense or trial attorney would. His goal is to win by any means necessary even if it means smearing Rassman, Rood, Runyon, Zeldonis et al. He realized that if he came out with a anything less than a full on attack on all 5 medals and Cambodia as all out lies, he could never get the chance to get a hearing on his major contentiom which goes to the post-Vietnam arguement. Well folks,are they all liars?
At the risk of going off topic, I want to counterpoint O'Neill as attorney vs O'Neill as truth seeker. He could have mentioned "you know there were some instances where swiftboats went into Cambodia like Elmo Zumwalt and Mike Bernique, but I don't think Kerry could have gone in there". Rather than add to public perception of "the truth", he stonewalled until he was confronted with the Nixon tapes: "Oh you mean that part of Cambodia?" ( stonewalling also applies to Hugh Hewitt who claimed he could find no instances of Cambodian Swiftboat operations after hours of research-- it takes 2 seconds in Google).
Beldar, of course you have focued on O'Neill's courtroom skills with admiration, but in this bloggger world how do you square his role as advocate and his avowed role as truth seeker when it is clear he is selectively holds back information that might undercut his assertions.
And does that hold true for all of all of you "lawyer/bloggers"? I notice you are the only one that actually has a 'comments" section.
(12) GT made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 7:21:30 PM | Permalink
Of course they have to be bribed. Remember the Swifties are not saying that there was a misunderstanding. They are saying Kerry lied. So if he lied then so did the rest.
You seem a reasonable guy Beldar, I don't know why you continue with this. Every single allegation has been shot down by witnesses and documents.
Great comments, good debate!
There are some folks commenting about these issues who are quick to assume that people are "lying" intentionally telling falsehoods, that they know to be false. Some people are arguing that these "liars" must be biased and motivated by wicked means bribery (perhaps with medals, or reassignments to safer duty) or threats or political views that they hold more dear than they do the truth.
I'm not making those assertions about anyone on either side of the controversy.
And, with respect, RP, movies and popular conceptions and Johnie Cochran notwithstanding, the most effective courtroom lawyers don't level those kinds of assertions recklessly either. Good lawyers lead the decisionmakers to inferences that they ultimately, confidently, draw on their own. They don't push them there, because people don't want to be told what to think. Overplaying one's hand in poker, in politics, and certainly in the courtroom isn't an effective way to win.
O'Neill may have strayed from time to time more into the "push" than the "lead" mode than he ought to have. But on the whole, he's been pretty calm and he's saved his rhetorical blasts for Sen. Kerry.
RP, you mention William Rood, for instance. From what I've read, the SwiftVets' and O'Neill's reactions to him have been pretty much what mine were impressive witness, but the facts he described, when looked at carefully and without spin, don't really contradict anything of significance that the SwiftVets are alleging. (Even the opinions Rood offered had more to do with judgment calls on the military tactics employed than with Kerry's specific performance, much less his fitness to be President.) Do you have a specific example of Rood being "smeared" by O'Neill or the SwiftVets that you'd like to point me to?
And GT, my friend (and I don't say that mockingly at all), one can indeed say that Kerry's been untruthful without saying that all his supporters are lying. None of those guys are running for President; there's no need to show that they're unfit for command, or that they're liars or conspirators. Why would a smart advocate try to take on the burden of proving that, when it's not needed, and probably not true?
Finally and I offer this as a good-faith suggestion, not a criticism, GT I think you undercut your considerable abilities as an advocate yourself when you overgeneralize. "Every single allegation has been shot down by witnesses and documents." Eh, that begins to sound like "Nah-nah-nah I-can't-hear-you I-have-my-fingers-in-my-ears." Both sides of this debate have scored some impressive points, I think. Your guy doesn't have to pitch a shut-out to get elected.
A postscript, minor quibble: RP, the SwiftVets aren't attacking the 2nd Purple Heart. There are a few snarky comments about it in Unfit for Command, but that's about it. It gets less than two pages in the book; they apparently have one witness who thinks Kerry exaggerated and another who said it was negligently inflicted by his own actions who then recanted. So they decided to basically drop that, beyond pointing out that it was another bandaid wound with no hospital time. That's a smart call, surely we can both agree and not someone who's trying to win on every issue "at all costs."
(15) GT made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 8:05:38 PM | Permalink
Point taken. I meant to say that every relevant allegation about the medals has been contradicted by both witnesses and documentation.
But on the lying, I'm sorry but that just doesn't hold. If, as the Swifvets have said repeatedly, Kerry is lying then so must those that support him. If Kerry is lying about enemy fire than what are Rassman and Langhofer, and the crew, and Lambert and Russell doing?
You mean they are simply mistaken but Kerry is lying?
That makes no sense at all.
(16) Molon Labe made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 8:26:46 PM | Permalink
Why would they need call signs if they were on the same boat?
GT, that's a good point, on which I can only speculate, but here goes:
It's not enough for the SwiftVets to persuade the American public that Kerry has a bad memory or that he may have been an inaccurate observer of events. To show that Kerry's Unfit for Command, they do indeed need to show something that goes to his character. They need to ultimately persuade the public (or a sizeable enough fraction to keep him out of office) that Kerry's a liar.
Clearly they are trying to do that incrementally, and they believe that they'll succeed in persuading enough people that Kerry is a liar even if they can't nail down one specific lie in particular beyond any reasonable doubt.
So yes, you're right they're trying to portray Kerry as a liar (in general). Yet they need not show that any of the supporting cast of characters is a liar (in general) or that any of them even lied (in particular). "Mistaken" or even "less credible, on balance, than the other witnesses after considering all the surrounding factors" is all they need to show for those guys.
An example, with a teaser from the forthcoming Novak column:
The next time he saw Kerry after the first Purple Heart incident, Schachte said, was "about 20 years" later on the U.S. Senate subway in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. "I called, 'Hey, John.' He replied, 'Batman.' I was absolutely amazed by his memory."
Now, Kerry can continue to say (my paraphrases here, not direct quotes), "I don't know what hit my arm on 02Dec68, so I don't know if it was enemy fire or not." And he can either say, "I don't know if Schachte was there or not," or he can say, "I remember clearly that Schachte wasn't there." Either way, folks might decide he's honestly mistaken or forgetful in that particular recollection, and that Zeldonis and Runyon were honestly mistaken or forgetful too.
But that one-word recognition of Schachte twenty years afterwards "Batman" is gonna sing to people. It's gonna sing like "seared seared" from the Christmas in Cambodia blurb in the Congressional Record, I think.
You put enough of these points together, and you don't get a man with an unclear or mistaken memory, but a guy who's deliberately fudged when it's been in his interest to do so and he thought he could get away with it. I think that's the strategic goal.
(18) GT made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 9:01:51 PM | Permalink
Yes I think the Swifties want to accuse Kerry of being a liar but not have to publicly call all those witnesses that say the same thing liars as well. If O'Neill is forced to say on TV that not just Kerry but also his crew, Rassman, Lambert, Langhofer, and Russell are ALL liars people are going to treat him like he is crazy.
So much for the so-called liberal media. If the morons in the news had done their jobs this is a question that O'Neill would have been forced to answer weeks ago. But it never happened.
That's why I now skip the news and just watch the Daily Show. Better analysis than all the rest.
Maybe O'Neill will get away with this politically (although there seems to be some movemnet from the media finally). But I just want to make clear that no matter what O'Neill may get away with, his position only makes sense if everyone else is lying as well, not just Kerry.
(19) Narniaman made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 9:46:23 PM | Permalink
Okay, GT, for my understanding. . . . .
1. Kerry claims to have gone into Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 on a swiftboat to drop off either a secret agent man or maybe some arms for someone or another. He claims to have done this while Nixon was President, and after Nixon allegedly told the American people that there were no soldiers in Cambodia. This was "seared -- seared" into his brain.
2. Nixon wasn't President in December 1968.
3. None of Kerry's crew acknowledge that he was either in Cambodia in 1968 or that he was in Cambodia dropping off secret agent men.
4. So who's lying here? Was Kerry really in Cambodia in 1968 and was Nixon really President in December 1968? Remember -- this incident was "seared -- seared" into Kerry's mind. Not a whole lot of wiggle room there. And, for some reason, all of Kerry's crew -- even the one's that are going to the mat for him -- are lying about this?
5. Kerry first recounted this story in 1980, and has consistently held to it for 24 years -- until someone questioned it. Now, all of a sudden, Kerry remembers that it must have been in January when he did the secret agent stuff. Why should his memory of this, which was "seared -- seared" into his mind, be better now than it was 24 years ago?
6. So what is it, GT? Is Kerry lying? Or is Kerry's crew lying? I must admit there is one other possiblity. It could be that Kerry is merely delusional, and honestly believes that he was doing secret agent man stuff when he wasn't. But we sure don't want someone with delusions of grandeur to be President, do we?
(20) tbrosz made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 10:26:42 PM | Permalink
There were two boats. The biography in the Boston Globe states:
Kerry experienced his first intense combat action on Dec. 2, 1968, when he "semi-volunteered for, was semi-drafted" for a risky covert mission in which he essentially was supposed to "flush out" the enemy, using a little Boston Whaler named "Batman." A larger backup craft was called "Robin."
Unfortunately, Robin had engine trouble, and Batman's exit was delayed until the boats could depart in unison. The Batman crew encountered some Viet Cong, engaged in a firefight, and Kerry was slightly wounded on his arm, earning his first Purple Heart on his first day of serious action.
"It was not a very serious wound at all," recalled William Schachte, who oversaw the mission and went on to become a rear admiral.
If there were two boats, that is why there were call signs. It is not precisely clear who was on what boat, although it's implied that Kerry was on "Batman." If Schachte was also on "Batman," which seems implied by his call sign, that's a whole new story. Or was Kerry on "Robin?" Anyone have more on this?
tbrosz, my understanding is that there was always a Swift Boat as backup on these missions the goal was to flush VC on the shoreline using the little boat, then bring the Swift Boat's firepower to bear on them.
But my understanding is that Schachte was indeed on the skimmer/Boston Whaler as a regular matter to watch the trainee officer up-close and personal.
My further understanding is that call signs were personal to skippers, not necessarily to boats. E.g., Kerry as "Boston Strangler" when he had command of a Swift Boat, Adm. Hoffmann as "Latch."
My speculation is that the officer trainees on these missions were always called "Robin," and Schachte was always called "Batman," and that part of the training may have involved radio coordination i.e., the trainee "Robin" talking to the trainer "Batman" in the same manner as he would on the radio to a distant party. That's just a guess; as I've emphasized many times, I have zero personal military bona fides.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Boston Globe couldn't keep straight who was the junior and who the senior partner in the Batman & Robin team.
(22) tbrosz made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 10:51:26 PM | Permalink
The critical point is that the newspapers are playing up this incident as a single small boat alone in the night with a tiny crew, including Kerry. Whether Schachte was on this same boat depends on who you talk to. If there was an entirely different boat on the same mission--the article implies the two were practically next to each other--that changes the picture entirely. Even if Schachte wasn't on either boat, somebody must have been crewing it. Who?
One serious flaw in the coverage of this story is that the media is not asking these questions, and tracking down witnesses. BTW, anybody notice that most of the Band of Brothers seems to be laying mighty low?
(23) anon made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 2:40:31 AM | Permalink
Novak's column is a bombshell. Schachte's testimony is incontrovertible proof that John Kerry's first Purple Heart was fraudulently obtained for a self-inflicted wound. And therefore his early transfer stateside, which was based on his having three Purple Hearts, was also fraudulently obtained. Kerry's candidacy is in very serious trouble. I will not be surprised if he is forced to withdraw from the race.
Okay, here's Unfit for Command's one-paragraph explanation of the entire event, which clears up, at least to my satisfaction, both the call-sign issue and the proximity of the supporting Swift Boat (p. 36):
The truth is that at the time of this incident Kerry was an officer in command (OinC) under training, aboard the skimmer using the call sign "Robin" on the operation, with now-Read Admiral William Schachte using the call sign "Batman," who was also on the skimmer. After Kerry's M-16 jammed, Kerry picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and fired a grenade too close, causing a tiny piece of shrapnel (one to two centimeters) to barely stick in his arm. Schachte berated Kerry for almost putting someone's eye out. There was no hostile fire of any kind, nor did Kerry on the way back mention to PCF OinC Mike Voss, who commanded the PCF that had towed the skimmer, that he was wounded. There was no report of any hostile fire that day (as would be required), nor do the records at Cam Ranh Bay reveal any such hostile fire. No other records reflect any hostile fire. There is also no casualty report, as would have been required had there actually been a casualty.
anon: Nothing's incontrovertible, and I don't expect Kerry's spinmeisters to be struck dumb by Novak's column. If nothing else, they'll gasp, "Pl-pl-pl-PLAME!"
But as some old trial lawyers I know sometimes say with a confident chuckle about a witness they're eager to put on the stand, "This fella looks stronger'n train smoke!"
(26) GT made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 6:03:17 AM | Permalink
I read the column and we are back to he said/they said. Not sure it changes much of anything.
And must we repeat yet again that there is no requirement of enemy fire to get a PH? If the crew fired at the enemy and Kerry got hit with shrapnel that is a perfectly valid reason to get a PH.
(27) BP made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 7:26:24 AM | Permalink
re: O'Neill/Kerry - Cambodia
Kerry's claim and O'Neill's statement regarding Cambodia are separated by slightly over a year.
During that year then President Nixon authorized movement into Cambodia. So there's no disconnect between O'Neill saying that Kerry's claim could not be true yet O'Neill saying that he was patrolling along the border.
A good, non-political reference site regarding Swiftboats is this www.pcf45.com - it was put up about 2 years ago and is a 'just vets talkin' kind of site.
Lots of maps, lots of history, lots of photos, lots of rememberances
(28) Bill made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 7:29:15 AM | Permalink
Another Bush shill no doubt!
Seriously... the "lies" just keep receiving more (and more) confirmation.
One important FACT left out of the article is how Kerry went around the system to get that Purple Heart.
His commanding officer told him to forget it....but he waited...and then hit up a friendly admiral to get it issued.
To me...that is more telling...he had a plan...and the truth was NOT going to stop him
I also note that fully 2 of the 3 PH's were evidently awarded due to hi s lack of skill with grenades.....
No wonder his shipmates wanted himout.
(29) hrc made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 7:58:49 AM | Permalink
If the swifties are not correct in every detail the MSM will vindicate Kerry. Seems to me the swifties have proven beyond a doubt that Kerry is a liar and exaggerated his wartime exploits. His descriptions of INTENSE combat are lies. He did not spend Xmas in Cambodia. He ran while the others stayed. We also know that he was not in VN with MLK was killed and in Calif when RFK was killed. The man has been proven to be a serial liar!
(30) t. garfdner made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 8:02:42 AM | Permalink
Purple heart? No purple heart? Did he or didn't he lie to get them? None of that really matters. The real lies started when he came back and went before Congress!! And those lies had a great witness...t.v. cameras. Those are the lies I think are the most important. Those are the lies that caused so many others to suffer. And those are the lies we should hear MORE about. Those aren't "he said/she said"...those are "we heard what you said!"
(31) GT made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 8:28:02 AM | Permalink
BTW Beldar there is no new stuff here. O'Neill has already said that Schachte claimed to be there that night. This is not new information, only a confirmation of what O'Neill has said before.
Which is a nice change for once.
(32) jim made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 8:56:56 AM | Permalink
3 for 3 were grenade issues.
1st was an M-79 40mm grenade at night (per above)
2nd was most likely an M-79 40mm in daylight (still developing)
3rd was the 'brown rice' incident of clear self-fragging in the early action of 13 Mar 69 prior to the mine incident.
BTW, I just discovered last night on one of the Special Forces discussion boards that apparently Rassmann was his unit's designated awards officer and expert.
(33) Jumbo made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 8:57:11 AM | Permalink
FWIW, the poster under the handle "GT" has been a regukar troll over at justoneminute. Same m.o., same meme.
(34) George made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 8:58:34 AM | Permalink
Lanny Davis and James Carville still don't get
it. The Democrats still don't get it. When
you run around calling everybody a liar (even
people who normally would stay neutral), they
Like Paula Jones, now there is Retired Rear
Adm. William L. Schachte Jr.
(35) anon made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:01:44 AM | Permalink
O'Neill's writing was hearsay. Schachte's statement is an eyewitness account. And Schachte is an unimpeachable witness. Add this to the fact that Kerry went around his commanding officer, and deliberate fraud is incontrovertible. Beldar is right that this doesn't mean the Kerry people won't try to controvert it. But they will fail. The facts in this case are too obvious for them to obfuscate.
(36) jim made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:01:55 AM | Permalink
if you had trouble handling your own grenades, wouldn't you be a clear and present danger to your own troops and everyone around you within the blast radius of whatever you could lay hands on?
Would this be someone people would love to go into a combat situation with?
Or have removed from the battlefield by whatever means necessary?
(37) GT made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:06:36 AM | Permalink
if you had trouble handling your own grenades, wouldn't you be a clear and present danger to your own troops and everyone around you within the blast radius of whatever you could lay hands on?
Does this refer to Bob Dole?
That's no way to talk of the man, I think.
(38) Slider made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:12:48 AM | Permalink
"And must we repeat yet again that there is no requirement of enemy fire to get a PH?"
Reread the Army Regulation pertaining to the awarding of the Purple Heart (as posted by Beldar above), and this time, don't read it, or quote it, selectively.
It quite clearly states:
"When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. "
No enemy contact = no Purple Heart.
There simply is no way to spin that.
(39) GT made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:17:03 AM | Permalink
You can get a PH for a self-inflicted wound so long as you got it in an action where you were attacking the enemy. You don't get it if you hurt yourself in the training range.
That's how Bob Dole got his 1st PH.
(40) Jamie Irons made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:26:11 AM | Permalink
Great work in general, great post and wonderful comments section!
You're a trial lawyer with the most generous spirit of any I have ever encountered.
(41) Slider made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:28:15 AM | Permalink
I did not know that the Army uses Bob Dole's PH as a benchmark for awarding other PH's.
Oh wait, they don't.. They use the Army Regulation stated above.
And if that is what happened to Bob Dole, then I wouldn't be surprised if he lost a presidential election running even partially on his war record.
Oh wait.. that HAS happened.. He DID lose..
Seems when people use lucky packet military citations as a platform for a presidential election, they lose..
To Bob Dole's credit, i don't think he ever CLAIMED that the circumstances of his citation were any different to the actual event.
Maybe his PH was self-inflicted, but he never LIED about it.
I'm guessing history will do what it does, and repeat itself:
Empty Purple Heart = Empty Ballot Box
Bush 1, Kerry 0..
(42) rhodeymark made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:30:05 AM | Permalink
Amazing - someone calls GT a troll and he instantly validates the statement. I was in agreement with Beldar that you were more than readable until that last comment. Add the word "repeated" to "trouble handling your own grenades" and try again. Nice to take a swipe at Dole, since he has done real (and lasting) damage to your boy. Maybe Claiborne Pell can come out and drool something in Kerry's favor, eh?
(43) rhodeymark made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:36:54 AM | Permalink
"I wouldn't be surprised if the Boston Globe couldn't keep straight who was the junior and who the senior partner in the Batman & Robin team."
PS, Beldar - thanks for the LOL.
(44) GT made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:41:35 AM | Permalink
Whatever slider. Sure, Bob Dole lied as well.
Is there no one you loonies won't smear?
(45) M. Simon made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:43:26 AM | Permalink
I've seen ole GT in a number of places.
He never has an answer for this one:
There is a big difference between William Calley and John Kerry. William Calley is a proven war criminal. For John Kerry we only have his word as an officer and a gentleman.
What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records.
(46) jim made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:46:08 AM | Permalink
I posted this on another thread here:
One other item I just thought of.
Rassmann's PH does not depend on hostile fire or any other action if he really was injured on PCF #3 by a VC-planted mine.
BTW, SF was not overly generous with medals, and pretty well made sure all were MORE than warranted. That's why I'll put money on Rassmann being on PCF #3 and wounded directly by the mine explosion. His Detachment CO was aparently on the scene to verify that.
Kerry's PH AND Bronze Star, however, are entirely dependent on a claim of hostile fire, since he was not in enough of a position to claim serious injury from what was likely a single mine explosion, which may have been the only hostile thing that happened.
If he claims hostile fire, then he can stake a claim to almost any possible injury around and about when that fire may have taken place (including the 'brown rice' from earlier in the day?), and he can also justify (barely) the Bronze Star for what would otherwise be a routine act of taking an unplanned swimmer aboard.
Interesting enough, Thurlow claims that if his Bronze Star was predicated upon the presence of hostile fire, then he will gladly return it, and almost immediately signed his Form 180.
QED: You can legitimately earn a PH for an enemy wounding/killing device (like a mine, pungi sticks, tiger trap, other booby trap etc., etc.) remotely, impact, trip-wire or similarly detonated without fire present.
(47) recon made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:50:43 AM | Permalink
3 separate grenade malfunctions could indicate someone genetically pre-disposed to incompetence and negligence with same, being unable to learn from a single or even two incidents.
Or just a little TOO slick to keep around?
He would be off my team faster than light speed by whatever means I could make it happen. Everyone else is too valuable to waste.
(48) vnjagvet made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:51:01 AM | Permalink
Should Schacte's story get as much play in the press as Rood's?
1.) Do you believe knowing what you know today that Kerry's VN service in its totality is positive evidence that he is qualified to be Commander In Chief of the United States Military?
If so, why?
2.) Do you believe feel that Kerry's testimony before the Senate in April 1971 evidences a philosphy that should be followed in the current war on islamic radicalism in general, and the Iraq situation in particular?
Why or why not?
3.) Can you understand why a significant percentage of veterans who served in the SE Asia Theater from 1960-1975 believe in their hearts that Kerry is unfit to be commander in chief?
(49) Jim made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:51:19 AM | Permalink
GT's comment is wrong about Kerry still qualifying for a purple heart. The fact was there was no engagement with the enemy. Getting a self inflicted wound while in a fire fight is one thing, but a flare was shot off and there was no enemy there.
Max Cleland was badly wounded in Vietnam from an accident, no enemy action and he did not get a purple heart even though he lost three limbs.
(50) M. Simon made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 9:55:48 AM | Permalink
Kerry's own diary says he was never in Cambodia
Now who ya gonna believe? Kerry or the swifties?
I'm going with Kerry on this one.
There is a big difference between William Calley and John Kerry. William Calley is a proven war criminal. For John Kerry we only have his word as an officer and a gentleman.
What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records.
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