So the last couple days the press has really been hammering the Swift Boat guys. From what I've read it seems like the American Press, usually content to rumor monger stories of margainal credibility, got fed up with just how crazy and dishonest this Swift Boat crap is and went into full on attack mode. Even some of Fox News' people are jumping on the bandwagon, though the cynic in me thinks this more rats jumping off a sinking ship than anything more noble. So the biggest aspect of this story has been an incident which Kerry won a Bronze Star for. According to Kerry's version, as well as all of the people actually on his boat at the time as well as the official record of the Navy, there was some kind of firefight between a couple swiftboats and VC on the shore and somehow there were some special forces guys there too. So Kerry pulls an injured special forces guy out of the water while his boat, as well as the other swift boats present, was fired upon. Here's what it takes to get a bronze star:
Criteria: a. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the military of the United States after 6 December 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
b. Awards may be made for acts of heroism, performed under circumstances described above, which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the Silver Star.
c. Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or meritorious service. The required achievement or service while of lesser degree than that required for the award of the Legion of Merit must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction.
These events as told, clearly qualify for a bronze star. The Swift Boat Vets, however, claim that there were no shots fired, and therefore Kerry didn't deserve his Bronze Star because saving the special forces guy wasn't "while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States."
One of the Swift Boat guys, John O'Neil if I'm remembering correctly, was there on one of the other swift boats and says that there weren't any shots fired and has sixty some other SBV to back him up, though he was the only one of them that I know of that was there.
The problem for them is that not only does the special forces guy, along with Kerry and his whole crew, say that there were shots fired, but O'Neil's own report of the incident mentions that indeed there were shots fired. In fact, O'Neil himself won his own Bronze Star for that very event! Now, his rebuttal was that he didn't write his own report, that someone wrote it for him and that they basically copied Kerry's version, though I believe O'Neil signed his report. Moreover though, are we to believe that O'Neil's had a Bronze Star for 30 years and never questioned why they would give him a medal for heroic action in combat that supposedly never happened? Or worse, that he's self serving enough to KNOW that he was given a medal he didn't deserve and keep it anyway only to try and blugeon John Kerry with the even 30 years later? The other implication that O'Neil is making is that the military just hands out medals for heroism left and right without any sort of confirmation that they are deserved, which I think would be pretty insulting to the men and women that have received medals. So yeah, that story's bullshit.
Another story they have is about how somehow John Kerry managed to injure himself with shrapnel from a grenade launcher possibly on purpose as a way to get out of the war, which from what I've read doesn't make much logistical sense, but is also outlandishally speculative and is corroborated by first hand SBV accounts than the previous story.
The real story is that the SBVs are pissed that Kerry, a decorated officer, came back from the war and became an anti-war protestor. If they don't agree with that decision, fine. Say that you don't think officers should protest a war when there are still troops on the ground. This whole debacle should show you, however, that what you shouldn't do is make up stories to try and defame the person you disagree with because when the truth comes out you're going to look like completely untrustworthy jackholes.
First Edit: John O'Neil never served with Kerry. He's sort of the head of this Swift Boat group, which is why his name popped into my head, but he actually arrived in Vietnam after Kerry left. There is a Swifty that was at the whole Bronze Star incident, I just can't remember his name.