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August 13, 2004
Did David Alston Ever Serve On Kerry's Swift Boat?

Decorated Vietnam veteran (Navy) and CQ reader Tom "River Rat" Mortensen sent me an article that he also sent to media outlets as part of the campaign to reveal the truth about Kerry's service in Viet Nam. Much has been made about the Swiftvets not having served on John Kerry's boat, except for Stephen Gardner, who has been a tireless advocate for SBVT. Kerry's campaign keeps pointing to the men who sailed with Kerry on PCF-44 and PCF-94. One of them, David Alston, spoke at the Democratic convention in support of Kerry and remarked constantly about their service together.

But did Alston, who suffered real and serious wounds from battle, ever actually serve on Kerry's boat as he and Kerry claim? Here is the article written by SBVT member Bandit and that Mortensen helped research. Because of its length, most of it is on the extended entry (click the link to read the rest).

If not, and the article sounds pretty damning, it would point to a conspiracy between Kerry and several of his "band of brothers" to build a false record for this campaign. Because if David Alston and John Kerry have misrepresented their relationship, each of those men who stood behind Kerry must know it, with the exception of Jim Rassman. Indeed, based on this research, only a complete release of the military records of both Kerry and Alston would be able to clear up this discrepancy. Mortensen writes:

"The following article was placed in the public domain today at http://idexer.com/articles/alston_kerry.htm . I have worked with its author over the last week in researching David Alstons service with John Kerry.

I personally would not have released it without further investigation of Alstons whereabouts during January of 1969. I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to contact Captain Theodore Peck, Captain, USNR (ret). I believe he lives in Santa Rosa, California.

Possibly you will be more successful in doing so. At the least a call should be made for David Alston to release his service records for January, February, and March of 1969 so that this matter may be clarified."

Release the records, Senator Kerry. Sign the 180!

For years now we have been lead to believe that both Sen. Kerry and the Rev. David Alston had served together on the PCF-94 in Vietnam, and therefore, making David Alston an eyewitness to Kerry's actions and heroism. The fact that Sen. Kerry has used a now famous photo of himself together with David Alston and other crewmates while serving on swift boats in Vietnam, left little reason to believe otherwise. As with most anything having to do with Sen. Kerry -- nothing is ever as it first appears to be.

There can be little doubt that Sen. Kerry and David Alston wanted people to believe the two served together on the PCF-94 swift boat by some of their recent comments:

"We were in a lot of firefights," Alston said. "You learn a lot about people. After a firefight, John would come up to me and he would put his hand on me and he'd say, 'David, are you all right?'" And Kerry added: "I didn't know then that I had a man of God on my boat. That's probably why I'm here today." (Orlando Sentinel, 1/31/04)

"I stand here before you only because almighty God saw our boat safely through those rivers of death and destruction, by giving us a brave, wise, and decisive leader named John Kerry." (David Alston in a speech before the Democratic Convention)

"I can still see him now, standing in the doorway of the pilothouse, firing his M-16, shouting orders through the smoke and chaos_. Even wounded, or confronting sights no man should ever have to see, he never lost his cool." (David Alston in a speech before the Democratic Convention)

Rev. David Alston says, "When the bullets started to hit the side of the ship, we found out that John Kerry [could] lead. (Kerry for President Campaign Ad that aired early February '04)

Only problem with the above statements is that they are most [certainly] false because David Alston was never a crew member under Sen. Kerry nor could he had ever participated in combat operations with Sen. Kerry because they were assigned to two different boats. From December 14 to January 29, 1969 Sen. Kerry commanded the PCF-44 while David Alston was the Gunner onboard the PCF-94 under Lt.(jg) Peck. On January 29, 1969 both Peck and Alston were wounded and hospitalized. We know Alston was wounded on that date because his casualty report was made available briefly by the Kerry Campaign before they had removed it. Here is what it said:

AWFA: GMG2 DAVID MARION Alston, USN, 99T 57 46
BRAVO: ACTIVE DUTY, ATTACHED TO COASTAL DIVISION ELEVEN AT AN THOI, RVN
CHARLIE: INJURY, HOSTILE FIRE
DELTA: 29, JAN 69, 1030H, SONG CUA LON - SONG BO DE, WHILE SERVING AS FORWARD GUNNER ABOARD PCF 94, ENGAGED IN CORDON AND SEARCH OPERATIONS IN THE ABOVE RIVER, GMG2 Alston RECEIVED SHRAPNEL WOUNDS TO HIS HEAD WHEN PCF CAME UNDER INTENSE HOSTILE ROCKET AND A/W FIRE.
ECHO: CONDITION GOOD, PROGNOSIS GOOD. PRESENCE OF NOK IS NOT MEDICALLY WARRANTED AS REPORTED BY CORPSMAN.
FOXTROT: MRS. IDA MCQUILLAR ALSTON, MOTHER
GOLF: NOK NOT OFFICIALLY NOTIFIED. REQ NOK NOT REPEAT NOT BE NOTIFIED.
HOTEL: SERVICEMAN TREATED BY CORPSMAN AND MEDEVACED TO 29TH EVAC HOSP. BINH THUY.
2. PATIENT ABL TO COMMUNICATE WITH NOK.
3. NO FURTHER INFO WILL FOLLOW.


This confirms the date of David Alston's wounds, but it does not tell how seriously wounded David Alston was. There is no military medical records available for David Alston, and you cannot go by this casualty reports description of "condition good" because they will always be worded that way even if you had both legs shattered -- and then there is the fact no medical doctor had yet evaluated him. We can get a sense of the severity from the missing time Alston was away from the PCF-94, at least 28 days (Feb. 1-28.) If it was a minor wound he would not had to have been replaced all through February. We can also see today see the severity of the wound Alston suffered as shown below from Rev. Alston addressing Democratic Convention delegates.

Alston

As one can see, it was a sever[e] wound indeed, and Alston most likely lost tissue and scalp from this injury. We know this wound is from Jan. 29th and not by a later condition/injury because Alston's mother has refered to it as his "war wound." This is important evidence for dating another picture of him with Sen. Kerry below.

Now let's take a closer look at Alston.

No signs of a serious head wound, or the treatment of such a wound, which would had required visible head shaving that would still had been visible weeks later if this picture had been taken in early March 1969 as sometimes suggested by writers. Thus, we can be confident that the picture in question was taken prior to January 29, a time when Sen. Kerry was still skipper of the PCF-44 and Alston was the gunner on the PCF-94. How did Sen. Kerry get in this picture then? We know Coastal Division 11 and 13 were participating in joint operations in January of 1969 from the Command History of Division 11 released by the Navy, and no doubt that the crews from each division shared the same faculties.

Now that we know when and how Alston was wounded, we can began to see how Alston could not have been part of Sen. Kerry's crew on the PCF-94 because he had been replaced, just as the wounded Lt. Peck had been replaced by Kerry after the January 29th incident that lead to both Alston and Peck being hospitalized. Was David Alston able to return to the PCF-94 during anytime between February 1 and March 13, Kerry's last combat mission? No evidence that he did or even the suggestion he physically could have with the injury he had suffered, because we know that on February 28, 1969, Fred Short was onboard and described as an replacement for a wounded David Alston. We Know David Alston was not onboard for Kerry's last combat mission on March 13, either. Therefore, we can confidently say David Alston was never part of Kerry's PCF-94 crew from February 1 through March 13, 1969 because he was still recovering from his head wounds.

David Alston's mother also implies that in an July 28, 2004 interview with The Herald that after David was wounded on January 29, 1969 and survived, he came home.

Could the Rev. David Alston have served on another boat with Sen. Kerry? The Rev. Alston has discounted this theory before the world when spoke from the podium during the Democratic National Convention:

"I know him from a small boat in Vietnam, where we fought and bled together, serving our country. There were six of us aboard PCF-94, a 50-foot, twin-engine craft known as a "Swift Boat." We all came from different walks of life, but all of us-including our skipper, John Kerry-volunteered for combat duty. And combat is what we got."

So clearly he was on no other boat other than the PCF-94, and this is consistent with documents and eyewitness reports.

One other question that needs answered is whether David Alston could had been able to participate in combat missions with Kerry from a different swift boat? Looking at the daily combat missions for Coastal Division 11 for January 1969 we do not find both the PCF-44 (Kerry's boat) and the PCF-94 (Alston's boat) involved in any joint missions together. December offers no window of opportunity either since according to Kerry's fitrep (Fitness Report) he could only had taken over command of the PCF-44 until after December 14, 1969, and again, logs do not place the PCF-44 and 94 on any joint missions together during middle of December to January 1.

This conclusion is further supported by the fact David Alston, or any other Kerry crewmember, has ever ventured to describe specific missions that Alston and Kerry could have participated in. All discussion of Alston and Kerry together is vague, generalized and non-specific. On the other hand, his other crewmates can talk about specific missions and acts such as the day Sen. Kerry killed a fleeing enemy soldier.

Everything we were told by David Alston, Sen. Kerry and his people clearly cannot be true in regards to Kerry's Vietnam relationship with David Alston. This is not a mere little slip of the tongue, but an orchestrated scheme over the last few years to outright deceive people about Sen. Kerry's military service. Why did the Rev. David Alston insist he and Kerry served together on the PCF-94?

"I owe John Kerry my life," the Rev. David Alston was quoted as saying, "But John Kerry owes his life to me, too." Good possibility that Sen. Kerry indeed may owe his political life to some of his former crewmates, including Alston at this stage.

Another troubling question arises from this disclosure -- why hasn't any of Sen. Kerry's supporting "Band of Brothers" stepped forward and correct the record of the Kerry/Alston relationship, something they would know firsthand cannot be possible? Perhaps for the same reason none of them have volunteered to correct other known discrepancies in Sen. Kerry's stated record, such as Sen. Kerry being the officer in charge of the PCF-94 during January of 1969 when in fact he was not. Of course, if Kerry could have place himself on the PCF-94 during January, he and Alston could than say, with a straight honest face that they both had served together on the PCF-94.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 13, 2004 10:42 AM

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