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Thomas Lipscomb writes a fascinating article about his clever piece of detective work which demonstrates that John Kerry wrote the after-action report that led to his Bronze Star for an engagement that almost all witnesses claim never involved enemy fire. Lipscomb uncovered a 35-year-old operations order which narrows down the source of the story Kerry denies inventing:
A faded 35-year-old operations order recovered from the Naval Historical Center in Washington bears directly on the ongoing dispute between Sen. John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about who wrote the key after-action report that ended Kerry's service in Vietnam. The report appears in the official Navy records and is posted on Kerry's presidential campaign Web site.
The report details Kerry's participation in a naval operation on the Bay Hap River on March 13, 1969, in such glowing terms that he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for pulling Special Forces officer James Rassmann out of the water while under heavy enemy fire. This third Purple Heart allowed Kerry to cut short his Vietnam tour after only four months.
Lipscomb reviews the action in the report and how it clashes with the memory of everyone except Rassmann and Kerry's crew. It talks about three miles of sustained enemy fire on both banks, something that Roy Hoffman says not only didn't occur that day, but never occurred under his command in Viet Nam. Larry Thurlow, who commanded the task force that day, insists that had they been met with that kind of withering enemy fire, he would have called in air support.
But Lipscomb puts on the gumshoes when he looks into the mysterious designation of the author given in the report: TE 18.104.22.168/1. This is not a random series of numbers, nor is it a geographical designation. The sequence refers to the command structure of Kerry's unit, or "task element" (TE).
194: Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, Commander of all Navy forces in Vietnam
5: Adm. Roy Hoffman, Commander of all Swift boats
4: Cmdr. Adrian Lonsdale
4: Cptn. George Elliot, CO of Kerry's base at An Thoi
The '/1' indicates that someone other than Elliot sent the report, and the 'TE' would have been 'CTE' had it been Thurlow, who commanded the task element that day. That leads to only three other officers, and Lipscomb traces their whereabouts:
According to a Navy communications expert, Chief Petty Officer Troy Jenkins, who has examined the message traffic, the report in question was sent from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Spencer, Lonsdale's command ship, at 11:20 that night.
Only three of the officers on the mission that day were on the Spencer, John Kerry, Dick Pease and Donald Droz. Droz took the wounded from the mine explosion to be examined and treated at the Spencer, including the third officer, the severely wounded Dick Pease. Since the Spencer had no helipad for the evacuation of the wounded, Droz then had to return to the USS Washtenaw County, stationed about 25 nautical miles away, leaving only Kerry aboard the Spencer at the time the message was sent at 11:20 p.m.
Could Droz have somehow written the report? Lonsdale says command precedence of days in swift boat service alone rules this out. "According to the command procedure I set down, Kerry would have been the only logical candidate. Kerry had been in Vietnam since November. Droz just arrived at An Thoi in February." Thurlow adds, "I never liked the paperwork anyway. I was happy to have Kerry write them up."
And there is another factor. Thurlow ordered Droz to take care of the wounded after the action on the Bay Hap. Droz had ferried them 40 miles out to the Spencer and now had to take them 25 miles back to the USS Washtenaw County. Moving wounded on and off a 327-foot cutter from a 50-foot swift boat on the open sea was not something Droz was likely to leave unsupervised long enough to dash off a report. Kerry had no duties other than reporting to the sick bay, where according to his doctor he was seen at 7 that night. And he spent the night on the Spencer.
The Kerry campaign has always denied that Kerry wrote the after-action report that won him the Bronze Star. It looks like Lipscomb has demonstrated that Kerry's denials have been less than truthful. (via Instapundit)Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Analysis Shows Kerry Wrote Bronze Star After-Action Report from Patterico's Pontifications
A new analysis of the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that John Kerry wrote the after-action report for the Bronze Star incident in which he pulled James Rassmann out of the water. If true, this demolishes the Kerry camp's attack... [Read More]
Tracked on October 1, 2004 4:00 PM
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