Veterans' attacks on Kerry traced to GOP operatives



Veterans' attacks on Kerry traced to GOP operatives
EDITOR:
As you and your readers undoubtedly know, John Kerry's record of service in Vietnam is now under attack by Republican-financed veterans who call themselves Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. This group, in fact, is bankrolled by longtime GOP contributors with strong ties to Karl Rove, the very same Karl Rove who so successfully attacked the record of John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary, which George Bush won and sent him onto the presidency. Sen. McCain has called these attacks on Kerry "dishonest and dishonorable," and has asked President Bush to condemn this ad, which the president has refused to do.
These ads, which will run only in "battleground" states like Ohio, accuse John Kerry of lying about his service in Vietnam and the medals he was awarded.
As I've come to learn it, here's the truth according to the 30-year-old record and according to the crewmates who served with John Kerry and stand with him now:
John Kerry volunteered for the Navy, volunteered for Vietnam and volunteered for duty on a swift boat -- one of the most dangerous assignments in Vietnam at that time.
John Kerry was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts for duty with the U.S Navy. The fitness report for John Kerry at that time, written by Lt. Commander George Elliott, Dec. 18, 1969, said: "In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action Lt. JG Kerry was unsurpassed. ... Lt. JG Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group."
According to crewmate Gene Thorson "[t]hese assertions [from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth] are garbage; these people weren't there with John Kerry. If he hadn't made the right command decisions, in my opinion we would be some of the names on that wall."
And according to Jim Rassmann, the Special Forces officer saved by John Kerry, in response to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth assertion that there was no enemy fire on the day that Rassmann was rescued by Lt. Kerry: "That's a pure fabrication ... the fire was strong enough to knock out Tommy Belodeau's machine gun. ... I was in the middle of the firefight." As senior enlisted man Del Sandusky in response to the same assertion said "[i]t was a hellacious firefight, I don't know how these guys could stretch the truth like this"
It is, perhaps, because Swift Boat Veterans for Bush did not serve with John Kerry in Vietnam. It is, perhaps, because John O'Neil, one of the authors of the book of lies and distortions also to be released during this campaign, never laid eyes on John Kerry in Vietnam. Not perhaps but most certainly, these attacks on John Kerry are part of a Bush smear campaign -- financed by Bob Perry, a Texas Republican friend of Karl Rove, and organized by Spaeth Communications, a Republican communications firm. Not perhaps but also most certainly because the president and Karl Rove have a long record of smear campaigns.
JOHN WENDLE,
USMC veteran
Youngstown
Harding class reunions offerchance to recall special ties
EDITOR:
The Warren G. Harding High School class of 1959 celebrated its 45th class reunion Aug. 6, 7 and 8. Every five years, classmates come from all parts of the country, and this year we even had classmates from Hawaii and Alaska.
I always enjoy our reunions, and I got to thinking why everyone comes to share their lives and memories once every five years. The reason why we all come together is because of one special lady, Millie, our chairperson. She is a friend to each one of us in the class. She not only helps put together the nicest reunion along with her top-notch committee, Jo Ann, Dee and Jimmy, but in between she takes time to go the extra mile to watch over us as a mother takes care of her children.
Friends are treasures more precious than gold. Friends who come together for this special time make your heart glad. The older we get the more we cherish each one of our classmates.
We remember the classmates who are no longer with us and realize how really special our time together is. I am already looking forward to the next reunion for every day on earth is a blessing!
PATRICIA ZOCCALI
Warren