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September 13, 2004
Typography Questions About Silver Star Citations

Now that the entire blogosphere has had a crash course on typography and word processing, CQ reader Jeff C. spotted something interesting at the John Kerry campaign web site. Kerry's campaign has made available two of the three separate citations for the single Silver Star for his engagement of 28 February 1969, the Hyland and Lehman citations (the Zumwalt citation is not provided).

Take a look at the first citation in the scan, which is the older Hyland citation. Two odd observations jump out at me. First, the entire citation is typed in italics, which strikes me as strange, for military use. The second oddity, though, is the fact that this document is also typed in a proportional font with fairly obvious kerning. For a demonstration of how that differs from a standard typewriter product, simply look at the Lehman citation on the second page of the PDF, which uses a non-proportional font.

As an example of kerning in the Hyland citation, look at the fourth line, "Officer In Charge". The two 'f' characters occupy parts of each others' space. Line one has the words "gallantry" and "intrepidity", where both 'y' characters loop under the preceding letter. In fact, that's true for every 'y' in the text. Line seven, the word "fire" has the 'f' character loop over the 'i'. Typewriters do not do kerning, as has been discussed in regards to the forged Killian memos. Note also the perfect centering of the header, the word "Citation", and the signature line in the Hyland citation, as opposed to the Lehman citation.

It would indicate to me that the citation had to be sent out to a print shop for typesetting in order to produce the document as presented by John Kerry. And perhaps that was normal, but then why in the 1980s when Lehman supposedly signed off on a new version of the citation (Lehman denies it, and the Navy is investigating) did they revert back to a lower quality of print? The existence of three separate citations for one award has already raised eyebrows, and with the original Zumwalt citation not included, could the second Hyland citation be fraudulent, as is suspected of the third Lehman citation?

If any of my military readers can shine light onto this question, please leave the information in the comments, and I'll update this post. After the forgeries that CBS used to slam the President this week, any odd printed material from the Kerry campaign certainly will attract suspicion now. All of this speculation on Kerry's records could be avoided if Kerry would just sign a Form 180 and release his file for public review, of course, but perhaps this is one of the reasons why he's refused thus far.

UPDATE: The thrust of the commentary is that professional typesetting may well have been fairly commonplace for citations. At least one faithful reader, McG, wants me to drop the subject as it may detract from other inquiries into the Killian forgeries. I'm just asking the questions, though -- and thankful for the answers.

CQ reader Jon S, who spent some of his Navy career in the 1990s working on citations, says that it was commonplace to write the citation in a word processor and then shoot them out to a Laserjet for the official print, and in the 1980s that process would have used a daisy-wheel printer, accounting for the typewriter-style look on Lehman's citation. He feels that the two citations are probably aboveboard, at least regarding the printing.

If anyone has experience with 1970s citations and printing procedures, I'd love to hear from you.

UPDATE II: As one of the comments points out, the original Zumwalt citation is available on Kerry's site here (pages 7 & 8). Again, I'm struck by the printing differences between the Zumwalt citation and the Hyland citation. This time, when you look at the Zumwalt version, the text has obviously been typed. The "Citation" heading is centered just as in the Hyland citation, but the signature block is off-center to the right, like the Lehman citation. It's also not fully justified like the later two citations. It's likely these differences are innocent, but the military usually has very consistent formats in which to create documents (as a former tech writer for a defense contractor, I can tell you that from personal experience).

Is the Hyland citation bogus? I'd conclude probably not (at least, it probably came from Hyland) from your feedback thus far, but after the Killian forgeries, I'd be hard pressed to put anything past the Kerry campaign, especially given the highly unusual circumstances of the multiple citations and the Lehman denial.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 13, 2004 1:03 PM

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» You may be on to something here... from Irreconcilable Musings
A reader of Captain Ed's has noticed some interesting typeface anomalies on John Kerry's multiple Silver Star citations: Now that the entire blogosphere has had a crash course on typography and word processing, CQ reader Jeff C. spotted something inter... [Read More]

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