February 29, 2004

HERE’S MORE ON KERRY’S WAR RECORD:

No one denies Mr. Kerry’s four bemedaled months in “Swiftboats” or his seven-months’ service as an electrical officer on board the USS Gridley, during its cruises back and forth to California, or even his months as an admiral’s aide in Brooklyn, before he was able get out of the Navy six months early to run for office.

Taking a look at Mr. Kerry’s much-promoted Vietnam service, his military record was, indeed, remarkable in many ways. Last week, the former assistant secretary of defense and Fletcher School of Diplomacy professor,W. Scott Thompson, recalled a conversation with the late Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. that clearly had a slightly different take on Mr. Kerry’s recollection of their discussions:

“[T]he fabled and distinguished chief of naval operations,Admiral Elmo Zumwalt,told me — 30 years ago when he was still CNO —that during his own command of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam,just prior to his anointment as CNO, young Kerry had created great problems for him and the other top brass,by killing so many non-combatant civilians and going after other non-military targets.‘We had virtually to straitjacket him to keep him under control,’ the admiral said. ‘Bud’ Zumwalt got it right when he assessed Kerry as having large ambitions — but promised that his career in Vietnam would haunt him if he were ever on the national stage.” And this statement was made despite the fact Zumwalt had personally pinned a Silver Star on Mr. Kerry.

A lot of people are all over Kerry about various Vietnam-related issues, but personally, I think it’s shameful that anyone would ever criticize a former Naval officer who won a Silver Star over his positions on Vietnam.

UPDATE: BlackFive has more thoughts on medals.

Also, via this post at Rkayn, read this story on a related topic.