In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry’s claim that the Massachusetts Democrat’s boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.
But Thurlow’s military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to “enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire” directed at “all units” of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat “despite enemy bullets flying about him.”
I am convinced that the language used in my citation for a Bronze Star was language taken directly from John Kerry’s report which falsely described the action on the Bay Hap River as action that saw small arms fire and automatic weapons fire from both banks of the river.
I believed then as I believe now that I received my Bronze Star for my efforts to rescue the injured crewmen from swift boat number three and to conduct damage control to prevent that boat from sinking.
Kerry campaign spokespersons have conflicting accounts of this incident — the latest one being that Kerry’s boat did leave but only briefly and returned under withering enemy fire to rescue Mr. Rassmann. However, none of the other boats on the river that day reported enemy fire nor was anyone wounded by small arms action. The only damage on that day was done to boat three — a result of the underwater mine. None of the other swift boats received damage from enemy gunfire.
Notice that Kerry’s still attacking his accusers, not refuting their accusations. Release your records, Senator Kerry.
UPDATE: The ever-stylish Jennifer of Demure Thoughts remarks on the contrast of character displayed by these two swift boat veterans. As the Puppy Blender says … indeed.