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August 13, 2004
More On Alston's Service With Kerry, From The Kerry Campaign

For those of you who may still be questioning Tom "River Rat" Mortensen's query about David Alston and his service with John Kerry, he dug up an interesting bit of information from the Kerry campaign web site itself. Here's the timeline that Kerry/Edwards provides on John Kerry's service in Viet Nam. Note that in December 1968, Kerry commanded PCF-44, while Alston served on PCF-94. Here's the critical timeline portion that makes little sense:

January 22, 1969

Kerry and other Swift boat commanders travel to Saigon for meeting with Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, Commander Naval Forces Vietnam (COMNAVFORV), and Gen. Creighton Abrams, Commander United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam (COMUSMACV)

Late January, 1969

Kerry joined his 5 man crew on PCF-94

Why "Late January"? After all, Zumwalt's meeting date is specifically given, and that seems a lot less memorable than receiving your second command in two months. How long was the meeting in Saigon -- and how long were the Swift boat commanders there?

Next, note how Kerry gives Alston prominent mention in this passage:

Late January through Early March, 1969

Starting in late January 1969, this crew completed 18 missions over an intense and dangerous 48 days, almost all of them in the dense jungles of the Mekong Delta. Kerry's crew included engineman Eugene Thorson, later an Iowa cement mason; David Alston, then the crew's only African-American and today a minister in South Carolina; petty officer Del Sandusky of Illinois; rear gunner and quartermaster Michael Medeiros of California; and the late Tom Belodeau, who joined the crew fresh out of Chelmsford High School in Massachusetts. Others rotated in and out of the crew. The most intense action came during an extraordinary eight days of more than 10 firefights, remembered by Kerry's crew as the "days of hell."

Now let's take a look at that WIA report on Alston that Kerry had up on his site before removing it, and for good reason [emphases mine]:

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.

On January 22, Kerry was in Saigon with Admiral Zumwalt and the other Swift boat commanders. On January 29, Alston was wounded in action. Alston took shrapnel wounds to the head, an injury serious enough that he was medevaced to the hospital at Binh Thuy. Even had Kerry been in command of PCF-94 that day, and all information so far shows that Peck was in command and wounded in the same action, he and Alston could only have "served on the same boat" for a maximum of six days.

Here's what Tom has to say about this timeline, and especially about the odd timeline problem with Alston and the disappearance of Fred Short, who replaced Alston in February 1969 on PCF-94:

Kerry was on PCF-44 until at least until 21 January 69. He was in Saigon with Zumwalt on 22 Jan 69 (see below). Alston and Peck were wounded on 29 January 69. Below you will see they claim Alston was on the PCF-94 from late January to mid-march . This is impossible as Alston was wounded and hospitalized. There is no mention of Fred Short who received a medal, NCM w/c V, for the Silver Star action on 28 Feb 69.

Im beginning to think the photo of Kerry with Alston was taken between 23 Jan and 29 Jan. For what reason, I dont know. It may have been that Kerry was in a crew familiarization period with the guys on PCF-94 before the action that wounded and hospitalized Peck and Alston. What it says is Alston never served under Kerrys command as he was wounded and hospitalized on the 29th. There is no record of Kerry being aboard PCF-94 on 29 Jan.

Tom says Kerry needs to sign the 180. So do I.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 13, 2004 10:16 PM

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