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August 28, 2004

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Pat Curley

I can't believe the Post forgot to ask Brinkley the follow-up question on Cambodia--what about this claim of yours in the Telegraph that Kerry was in Cambodia on 3-4 occasions in January and February of 1969? Brinkley can't get him there, because Medeiros has denied it, and he's got logs to back him up.

freddie poo

Enough nonsense. Why not call the guy who claimed Kerry saaved his life a friggin liar? Now let us discover the missing parts of the Bush "service" record!! or go to Slate and get the remarks Dole made when he thought he was not on camera/mike about Bush supportint the anti-Kerry crap? Oh, too busy?

TM

Why not call the guy who claimed Kerry saaved his life a friggin liar?

That would be Rassmann - I have posted on the Bronze Star incident several times, and have settled for Rassman-Roshomon.

I'll pass on the rest of your tirade, although if you aren't too busy, you might want to drop the Dole remarks in a comment here.

Jim Glass

Geeze, yesterday Schachte, now Lehman is saying he never signed the Silver Star citation over his signature.

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this as there's so much posting going on in so many threads here, but if not, ...

~ quote ~

Former Navy Secretary John Lehman has no idea where a Silver Star citation displayed on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's campaign Web site came from, he said Friday. The citation appears over Lehman's signature.

"It is a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me," he said.

The additional language varied from the two previous citations, signed first by Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and then Adm. John Hyland, which themselves differ. The new material added in the Lehman citation reads in part: "By his brave actions, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant (jg) Kerry reflected great credit upon himself...."

Asked how the citation could have been executed over his signature without his knowledge, Lehman said: "I have no idea. I can only imagine they were signed by an autopen." The autopen is a device often used in the routine execution of executive documents in government.

Kerry senior adviser Michael Meehan could not be reached for comment on Kerry's records.
http://www.suntimes.com/output/elect/cst-nws-lips28.html
~~~~

This is becoming more fun every day!

If Dubya is smart he'll get out there saying: "Nobody should be questioning John Kerry's medals, no matter how questionable the lousy paperwork is on them, that would be wrong!" .... over and over and over again.


AC

The following seem relevant in assessing the credibility of Schachte, Runyon, and Zaladonis regarding the incident:

1. Two other officers, Hibbard and Peck, say Schachte always went on such skimmer missions because he was the originator of the technique.

2. This was Kerry's first assignment, so even if one assumes, contrary to Hibbard and Peck, that some skimmer missions were permitted without Schache aboard, it is most unlikely that an exception would have been made in this case.

3. Peck remembers Schachte telling him back then that Kerry's wound was not the result of enemy fire. How would Schachte know that unless he was on the boat (or unless Runyon and/or Zaladonis told him a different story than they're telling now)?

4. Unless Schachte also is lying about Kerry remembering him as "Batman," that links Schachte to the mission.

5. Michael Kranish wrote in a 6/16 Kerry puff piece: "'It was not a very serious wound at all,' recalled William Schachte, who oversaw the mission and went on to become a rear admiral."

6. Dr. Louis Letson, who swears he treated Kerry's "wound" from the incident, says he was told by Kerry's crew that they did not receive fire and that the injury resulted from Kerry firing a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore.

AC

The following seem relevant in assessing the credibility of Schachte, Runyon, and Zaladonis regarding the incident:

1. Two other officers, Hibbard and Peck, say Schachte always went on such skimmer missions because he was the originator of the technique.

2. This was Kerry's first assignment, so even if one assumes, contrary to Hibbard and Peck, that some skimmer missions were permitted without Schache aboard, it is most unlikely that an exception would have been made in this case.

3. Peck remembers Schachte telling him back then that Kerry's wound was not the result of enemy fire. How would Schachte know that unless he was on the boat (or unless Runyon and/or Zaladonis told him a different story than they're telling now)?

4. Unless Schachte also is lying about Kerry remembering him as "Batman," that links Schachte to the mission.

5. Michael Kranish wrote in a 6/16 Kerry puff piece: "'It was not a very serious wound at all,' recalled William Schachte, who oversaw the mission and went on to become a rear admiral."

6. Dr. Louis Letson, who swears he treated Kerry's "wound" from the incident, says he was told by Kerry's crew that they did not receive fire and that the injury resulted from Kerry firing a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore.

Patrick R. Sullivan

Not only was Kerry on his first combat mission, so was Runyon. Zaladonis says he only went on one of these "skimmer" missions. Which means you've got three guys with zero knowledge of what to do being sent on this assignment. If you believe these two, I mean.

Pat Curley

I tend to trust Zaladonis' honesty; memory is another thing. He's one of the guys that wouldn't go along with Christmas in Cambodia so he's got some integrity.

AC

RADM Schachte's statement is here. It is definite and powerful.

http://www.nationalreview.com/document/document200408280010.asp

GT

Tom,

I don't think Schachte's testimony is new stuff. O'Neill had already made public Schachte's views weeks ago. After all, the Swift Vets attacks on Kerry on the 1st PH are based on Schachte.

The only thing that Schachte has done is prove that O'Neill wasn't lying about Schachte's testimony. But I for one edid not doubt that.

What unfortunately Schachte has not done is provide any evidence other than his memory as to why we should believe him and not the three other guys.

And the fact that he supports George Bush can't help his credibility.

AC

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/9517101.htm

"Ohioan Pat Runyon, who introduced Glenn, told about 200 supporters at a union hall that he went on a nighttime raid with Kerry on a three-man boat in Vietnam, and that Kerry returned fire even after getting shot."

Cecil Turner

If Schachte's support for Bush damages his credibility, then Kerry can't be considered a witness at all. Moreover, Runyon and Zaladonis are clearly Kerry supporters, with essentially the same credibility issue (and if they truly can't remember whether they got shot at or not, they obviously have no useful recall for the incident).

But the most compelling evidence is that Schachte tells the only believable story: they didn't get shot at, and Kerry fumbled an M-79 round into the water. (Essentially admitted by the campaign's statement that Kerry's wound might have been "unintentionally self-inflicted.") No other version explains a shrapnel wound.

GT

Cecil,

Kerry out and Schachte out leaves 2 to 0.

Zaladonis is not a Kerry supporter. Read Tom's post.

AC

Some statements by Runyon.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20040816.shtml
At Davis' suggestion, I telephoned the two of Kerry's crew members who said they were on the whaler that night: Patrick Runyon and William Zaldonis. Each said they did not know whether there was enemy fire and did not know how Kerry was wounded.

http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=14755
Patrick Runyon is quoted in a Boston Globe account on p. 35 saying "I can't say for sure that we got return fire or how [Kerry] got nicked. I couldn't say one way or the other. I know he did get nicked, a scrape on the arm."

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/9462873.htm
Patrick Runyon, who served on another mission with Kerry, said he received a phone call from a man he thought was from a pro-Kerry group. Runyon said he happily gave a statement about the night Kerry won his first Purple Heart.
The man, who said he was an investigator for the swift boat veterans group, said he would e-mail that statement to Runyon for his signature. Runyon said the subsequent statement was stripped of all references to enemy combat, making it look like just another night in the Mekong Delta.

“It made it sound like I didn't believe we got any returned fire,” he said. “He made it sound like it was a normal operation. It was the scariest night of my life.”

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_5079.shtml

The small, flat-bottomed boat - Runyon called it a "skimmer" - carried three men - Kerry in command, Bill Zaledonis on a machine gun and Runyon operating the outboard motor.

Once in place on the river, the three U.S. sailors paddled and drifted. Covered by the darkness, they hid to stop sampans, small vessels common in Southeast Asia. Guerillas used the sampans to smuggle weapons in the Mekong River Delta.

Runyon said Kerry was wounded after one vessel tried to avoid an inspection.

"Lt. Kerry said, 'I'm going to pop a flare, and when I do, I want that engine started,' " Runyon said. But the outboard would not crank. Meanwhile, the sampan's crew steered it to the riverbank, and people started running on the shore. Runyon said shooting broke out.

Somehow, Kerry's weapon stopped firing. Runyon thinks he ran out of ammunition. He said Kerry bent down to pick up another gun and got hit in the arm.

"It wasn't a serious wound," Runyon said, and Kerry was able to start shooting again. When the firefight was over, Runyon said Kerry told him all he felt was a "burning sensation."

Runyon said he remembers the incident clearly because it was the first time he had been in combat. "I hadn't seen any kind of action or anything," he said.

He said Kerry, Zaledonis and himself were the only men aboard. When he got the motor started, they took off. He said the outboard was in bad condition and did not have a handle to steer with. "I had to wrap my arms around it, like hugging it, to turn it," he recalled.

Runyon now works the second shift at a plant that makes auto parts in Eaton. He works in the shipping department.

He is supporting Democratic nominee Kerry for president, but said he is not a Democrat and has never been active in politics. He said he and Kerry met for the first time since that night in 1968 at a rally in Dayton this year.

Cecil Turner

No, Zaladonis said he wasn't a Kerry supporter. Right before he said: "I think I would very much like to see him as president." Schachte said he was an independent. If support for a candidate is a disqualifier, we have 0-0.

Cecil Turner

And how can you "not know" if there was enemy fire? Either they've reached the limit of what they're willing to say whilst covering for Kerry (my guess), or they're completely incompetent witnesses. In any event, their statements don't conflict with Schachte's in any meaningful way (excepting his presence) . . . nobody reports any incoming fire. Leaving the M-79 fumble as the only logical explanation for the shrapnel wound.

Greg F

"I don't think Schachte's testimony is new stuff. O'Neill had already made public Schachte's views weeks ago. After all, the Swift Vets attacks on Kerry on the 1st PH are based on Schachte."

And Kerry's diary.

“Kerry sustained a very minor wound to his arm, probably caused by debris from his own boat's salvoes. The scratch earned him his first Purple Heart, a medal awarded for those wounded in combat. Actually there's no evidence that anyone had fired back, or that Kerry had been in combat, as becomes obvious when we read an entry from his diary about a subsequent excursion, written on December 11, 1968, nine days after the incident that got Kerry his medal. "A cocky air of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel, because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky."

GT

OK Cecil.

Yet again, the only witness not lying is the one that attacks Kerry.

All the others are liars. Zaladonis is a liar. Runyon is a liar.

ParseThis

Comparing Zaladonis and Schachte versions:

Both Zaladonis and Schachte have the same role (neither was the engine man)

Zaladonis: So we spent the night taking these people, ferrying them back and forth to the swift boat. And I assume they were interrogating them – turning them loose or whatever. But then, later that night, we ran into– there was about five or six sampans, small junks crossing at the same time, and we challenged them... They hit the beach and took off.

Schachte: Sometime during the early morning hours, I thought I detected some movement inland. At the time we were so close to land that we could hear water lapping on the shoreline. I fired a hand-held flare, and upon it bursting and illuminating the surrounding area, I thought I saw movement. I immediately opened fire with my M-60.

Schachte is little short on details and a little generic. Kerry and Runyon both reference sampans and people. Schachte references shadows. Schachte also had the opportunity to tell his story to the Times and the Post but waited for alternate distribution. This seems like Schachte was being held back so as to create a separate 'event' and manage the timing of the drip.

Greg F

"I don't think Schachte's testimony is new stuff. O'Neill had already made public Schachte's views weeks ago. After all, the Swift Vets attacks on Kerry on the 1st PH are based on Schachte."

And on Kerry's diary.

“Kerry sustained a very minor wound to his arm, probably caused by debris from his own boat's salvoes. The scratch earned him his first Purple Heart, a medal awarded for those wounded in combat. Actually there's no evidence that anyone had fired back, or that Kerry had been in combat, as becomes obvious when we read an entry from his diary about a subsequent excursion, written on December 11, 1968, nine days after the incident that got Kerry his medal. "A cocky air of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel, because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky."

AC

Since Kerry indicates in his diary on 12/11 that he had not yet experienced enemy fire, his wound of 12/2 must have been self-inflicted, as no one is claiming friendly fire from Runyon or Zaladonis. (This is why the Kerry campaign conceded recently that Kerry's injury may have been self-inflicted.)

Runyon told the Boston Globe for its 8/20/04 story that he was "100 percent certain" that they did not shoot an M-79 grenade launcher on 12/2/68. But if Kerry's wound was self-inflicted, as demanded by his own diary, it must have resulted from a launched grenade (there being no claim that he shot himself).

If Kerry's wound must have resulted from a grenade that he launched, then Runyon is mistaken in thinking they did not launch a grenade. Since he claims to be "100 percent certain" about that, and yet is in error, could he not likewise be in error when he claims with certainty that Schachte was not present? (Zaladonis only says he's "reasonably sure" they didn't have an M-79 on board but apparently asserts with certainty that Kerry was not injured by shrapnel from a grenade launcher. If so, that claim is subject to the same analysis.)

TM

From Novak:

At Davis' suggestion, I telephoned the two of Kerry's crew members who said they were on the whaler that night: Patrick Runyon and William Zaldonis. Each said they did not know whether there was enemy fire and did not know how Kerry was wounded. But each said he was certain that they alone were in the boat with Kerry, and did not even know Schachte.

Huh? Schachte was the number two guy at Cam Ranh, serving as Hibbard's XO, if I follow his own statement:

I was a Lieutenant serving as Operations Officer and second in command at Coastal Division 14 when Lieutenant (junior grade) John Kerry reported to us in mid-November, 1968. Lt. (jg) Kerry was an Officer-in-Charge (O-in-C) under training in preparing to be assigned as one of our Swift Boat O-in-C's.

And I'm with Patrick - does sending three newbies on a mission like this make sense?

Filed under either "Blown Opportunities" or "Thank Heaven He Saved His Notes" - what, exactly, did Schachte say for the April 2003 piece that led to Kranish reporting this:

Kerry experienced his first intense combat action on Dec. 2, 1968, when he "semi-volunteered for, was semi-drafted" for a risky covert mission in which he essentially was supposed to "flush out" the enemy, using a little Boston Whaler named "Batman." A larger backup craft was called "Robin."

Unfortunately, Robin had engine trouble, and Batman's exit was delayed until the boats could depart in unison. The Batman crew encountered some Viet Cong, engaged in a firefight, and Kerry was slightly wounded on his arm, earning his first Purple Heart on his first day of serious action.

"It was not a very serious wound at all," recalled William Schachte, who oversaw the mission and went on to become a rear admiral.

Well, WTF does "oversaw the mission" mean? And why did Kranish contact Schachte, anyway? Was that Kerry's suggestion, or was it just an obvous thing to do, asking the top officers at Cam Ranh about what happened there? But then, why is Hibbard not in the story?

Conspicuously missing from this account are Runyon and Zaledonis, who were only self-identified later (I think they are self-identified, although I am open to suggestions on this point; please limit the suggestions to the biologically possible...)


Beldar

I've posted on my own blog a lengthy list of questions that Lisa Myers, or someone, should ask Mr. Zaladonis. I'm reasonably sure what his answers to each of them would have to be. And I think after he was done, we'd have a better basis to decide who's recollections are more reliable here. Note: I don't think it's necessarily the case that anyone's deliberately lying about this. (Tom, sorry to link-whore, but figured it was better than a hugely long cut-and-paste.)

Cecil Turner

GT,

Yet again, the only witness not lying is the one that attacks Kerry.

No, you're the one claiming that being a Bush supporter damages credibility. I'm just pointing out the logical flaw in that argument: it's a two-way street. And you still apparently don't see a need to reconcile eyewitness statements with physical evidence.

And you guys keep glossing over the main discrepancy in their testimony. Muzzle flash at night (seen from the business end) is absolutely unmistakeable, arresting, and attention-riveting. If they didn't see it, it wasn't there. (And these guys may not have known that then, but I'm having a hard time believing they could have served a tour in swift boats without figuring it out.)

TM

OK, Beldar, those questions are interesting (and shameless self-promotion is a key to successful blogging, so go ahead with the links).

I was thinking of coming up with some questions for Admiral Schachte, although having seen your work, I can see that my post would come out second best. However, my gist would be:

Can Schachte produce any records or after-action reports for any of the skimmer ops to support his claims that two officers and one enlisted were the standard crew, and that the armaments package he described (including the disputed M-79 grenade launcher) was standard.

If there were ten or twelve skimmer ops missions, there must be some other Swift vets who served on them - does Schachte remember any names of folks who might have a story to tell? Are there any records that suggest some names?

Are there any records of who was on the supporting Swift boat - these guys might rememebr some details.

Now, I am setting aside, for no obvious reason, Hibbard and the other officer who support Schachte; also, Wasser was on the Swift support boat.

And some bonus questions for Zaledonis - he is not identified as part of the skimmer op in either the Boston Globe 2003 story or the Brinkley book (although he appears in that book as a crew member on PCF-44). When did he re-identify himself to Sen. Kerry as the man on the skimmer op, and when was he publicly indentified?

And Kerry did not initually remember Runyon; since Kerry served with Zaledonis on PCF-44, he presumably remembered him in that capacity. But was it Zaledonis's impression that Kerry immediately recalled Zaledonis as having been on the skimmer, or did this seem to come to news to the Senator?

Snowy

Re "oversaw". I think it's credible that Schachte might have overseen the operation from "Robin".

Re producing after-action reports. From what I've read,I gather that after-action reports are only written after there's been actual combat. So there probably isn't an "after action" report on this one.
Still, there should be some other kinds of records.

All people running for president should HAVE to release all relevant records; it should be law.

Cecil Turner

Well, I don't see any signs of life in the old stallion, but that won't stop me from applying the quirt:

Zaladonis says: "I can't say we weren't fired on, but I can't really tell if we were. I didn't see any tracers, but that doesn't mean anything ‘cause if they were using small arms there wouldn't have been any tracers."

In the first place, "small arms" includes machine guns, which certainly do have tracers (that's a nit, he probably meant rifles, which normally don't).

But what isn't a nit is the absence of any report of muzzle flashes. Tracers are the most noticeable thing from the rear of a weapon, but from the front, even in decent light, the muzzle flash is far more apparent. And while you might miss the noise of a small (e.g., mortar) explosion over the racket of an M-60 machine-gun, there's absolutely no way you can shoot at an area and fail to see muzzle flashes from return fire. Somebody ought to ask that specific question. If they can't remember if there were bright lights winking at them, quizzing on 35-year-old weapons loadouts, or even who was sitting beside them, is a waste of time.

Snowy

I looked up this and found it kind of interesting, especially the last sentence.

http://globalspecops.com/nswws.html


The Light Patrol Boat is a lightly armed
Boston Whaler type craft with no armor.
This craft is constructed of fiberglass
with reinforced transom and weapons mount
areas. It is powered by dual outboard motors
and is highly maneuverable. It is useful in
interdicting a lightly armed adversary but
should not be used to engage a heavily armed
or well organized enemy. It functions
effectively in policing actions, harbor control,
diving and surveillance operations,
riverine warfare, drug interdiction,
and other offensive or defensive purposes.

The weapon mountings can include .50 caliber
heavy machine guns or 7.62mm machine guns
mounted on 180-degree mounts, providing an
effective weapon employment in any direction.
Due to its unique hull design, the PBL is
excellent for the riverine environment,
allowing it to operate in virtually any water
depth. Its two low-profile engines are capable
of providing eight hours of continuous operation
at a fast cruise speed of 25-plus knots.
It displaces 6,500 lb. fully loaded and is
transportable via its own trailer, helicopter
sling, or C-130 aircraft. Normal crew size is
three personnel.

Snowy

I do not want John Kerry, who I consider to be totally delusional, to be president of the U.S.A. However, I think grappling with minutaie of his war record is helping him more than helping his opponents.

Sure it's fun to play detective, but I really think trying to sort out the details of "medalgate" should be left to O'Neill and the Swifties, who've done their homework. I think all energy against Kerry should be focussed on the bigger picture -- things like his communist political sympathies, his anti-war activities and his appallingly consistent far left senate record.

Someone I know who's been following this was absolutely shocked yesterday when I told him about Kerry attending the Kansas meeting where the discussion took place about assassinating hawkish U.S. senators. This person didn't know that Kerry had attended the meeting, didn't know Kerry had denied attending the meeting until the FBI records proved him false, AND didn't know that Kerry was an officer in the naval reserves while at that meeting and did not report the sedition. Judging by my acquiantance's shocked reaction to learning these things, (and my surprise that he didn't know them already) I feel these are the kinds of things the anti-Kerryites need to keep hammering on. I really fear that othewise we are just scattering our fire and missing the mark.

There is so much provable material in Winter Soldier that is more damaging to Kerry than medalgate IMO.

Plus the MSM just doesn't seem ot handle detail very well. They need broad strokes, easy things, and crayons.

Patrick R. Sullivan

We have another situation where the absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. If there was an engagement with hostiles, then there should be an After Action Report. If Kerry was the OIC, with only two enlisted men as company, then it would have been Kerry's responsibility to prepare it.

Unless Kerry can produce his AAR for this mission, Schachte's story is buttressed. Just as the SBVFT's version of no enemy fire on March 13 is buttressed by the absence of any wounds incurred from enemy fire.

It's elementary, my dear, GT.

vnjagvet

GT is no more effective here than he has been on Beldar's blog.

As he has revealed there, he does not really care about the context of the debate, i.e. that Kerry has held out his 1/3 year tour of duty in VN as positive evidence that he is qualified to be our commander in chief.

From the totality of evidence presented on his performance in VN, it is apparent that he and his campaign have been "puffing" up those exploits. The SBVT group has credibly exposed such puffing, and nothing has been adduced by the Kerry team to effectively rebut that exposure. Since it is now clear that the Kerry team (Brinkly is included in that group) has more documents than have been presented thus far, human experience persumes those documents would be less helpful to his image than the ones posted on the Kerry web site.

But as Snowy points out the real problem for Kerry (about which GT has in the past indicated he is indifferent) is his performance as a commissioned Naval Reserve Officer in 1970-1972 after his release from active duty. It reveals Kerry's advocacy of a philosophy which IMO is seriously adverse to our current war against Islamic radicals. There has been nothing in his many public pronouncements over the past 33 years to indicate that he has abandoned that philosophy.

IMO Veterans who have served in Vietnam and in the Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq, officers and enlisted alike, overwhelmingly oppose that philosophy.

If you don't believe me, ask one you know.


Hmm

Is it perhaps possible that Runyon and Zaledonis are both right about being on the 3-man boat but were not on it at the same time? Since this was a training mission that took quite a number of hours to accomplish and since one of them said they were picking up people and ferrying them back to the swiftboat, perhaps one of them went out first and then the other one went out later which could explain how they could have different but similar memories of the same night. If there were 3 people who needed to be trained as quickly as possible to get them out, then why take another whole night/ mission to do what could be done in one night just as efficiently? That would still allow them the opportunity to get together for their smoke and to share their memories of that night over the years.

Pat Curley

What I do find interesting here is that there seems to be a trend of pro-Kerry people putting themselves with Kerry for medal actions who were not actually present. We've got David Alston at the DNC claiming he was at the Silver Star incident (he wasn't according to Brinkley), we've got Skip Barker claiming he was at the Bronze Star incident (he wasn't according to the WaPo). These phantom sightings could be explainable as an attempt to bask in reflected glory, or they could be a sign that the campaign has been trying to defend Kerry deceitfully.

TM

Interesting point from Pat C - now, did Skip Barker claim he was there, or did Brinkley just mistakenly put him there?

ANd, continuing my stint on the Kerry payroll, for Patrick S - Kerry may not have filed an After Action Report becasue he did not consider himself the OIC - Schachte, back on the Swift, was OIC.

Greg D

Well, Tom, Kerry apparently seemed to like filing reports, even when he wasn't the senior officer.

Why should we think he acted any differently in this case?

Cecil Turner

"Is it perhaps possible that Runyon and Zaledonis are both right about being on the 3-man boat but were not on it at the same time?"

We may be getting a little wrapped around the axle on the "normal crew size is three personnel" issue. I'm clueless on boat ops, but for other combat vehicles it's not at all uncommon to carry heavy crews on training missions. The Light Patrol Boat's complement is listed as "3 crew and 8 passengers," so it certainly had the capacity to carry an extra observer/instructor if desired. Not to dispute anyone's version of events, but it seems to me more likely that someone got it wrong as to who was on which boat (Schachte vs Runyon) or how many (4 vs 3) rather than forgetting how many trips they made.

Karen

The Kerry campaign had backed away from the first purple heart saying that it might have been self-inflicted. This is after Hibbard and Dr. Letson argued he should not have gotten it but before Adm. Schaecte came out saying he was the officer of the boat and Kerry was in training (hence batman vs robin). So if three people were on the boat and Kerry was in training, it makes sense that Runyon or Zaladonis is at best mistaken or at worst lying. I have to admit that late last week I swear that I heard a clip were Runyon was mentioning that Kerry was shot for his first purple heart. If true, he's exaggerating since we know that Kerry did not suffer a gun shot wound and we know the Kerry campaign backed off from story even before this.

jaed

The more I think about this, the more it seems to me that we're talking about two different Boston whaler missions. I don't think the two stories can be reconciled - the competing recollections of what was going on ("thought I saw movement in the bushes on shore", presumably with the boats more or less alone, versus lots of sampan traffic, people being processed, a sampan crew running ashore) are different not only in detail, but in general.

The point about the implausibility of sending three people on a mission, none of whom had experience on that type of craft and two of whom had not yet seen combat, without a more experienced officer in supervision is also one I find telling.

Assuming arguendo that no one is being deliberately deceitful, I think Occam's Razor gives us the hypothesis that Runyon and Zaledonis are thinking of a different mission, presumably with a different OiC.

jaed

The more I think about this, the more it seems to me that we're talking about two different Boston whaler missions. I don't think the two stories can be reconciled - the competing recollections of what was going on ("thought I saw movement in the bushes on shore", presumably with the boats more or less alone, versus lots of sampan traffic, people being processed, a sampan crew running ashore) are different not only in detail, but in general.

The point about the implausibility of sending three people on a mission, none of whom had experience on that type of craft and two of whom had not yet seen combat, without a more experienced officer in supervision is also one I find telling.

Assuming arguendo that no one is being deliberately deceitful, I think Occam's Razor gives us the hypothesis that Runyon and Zaledonis are thinking of a different mission, presumably with a different OiC.

Raven

What's interesting is that SBVT's own website originally contradicted Schachte:

The action that led to John Kerry's first Purple Heart occurred on December 2, 1968, during the month that he was undergoing training with Coastal Division 14 at Cam Ranh Bay. While waiting to receive his own Swift boat command, Kerry volunteered for a nighttime patrol mission commanding a small, foam-filled "skimmer" craft with two enlisted men.
It has now been revised to follow the new party line:
The action that led to John Kerry's first Purple Heart occurred on December 2, 1968, during the month that he was undergoing training with Coastal Division 14 at Cam Ranh Bay. While waiting to receive his own Swift boat command, Kerry volunteered for a nighttime patrol mission on a small, foam-filled "skimmer" craft under the command of Lt. William Schachte. The two officers were accompanied by an enlisted man who operated the outboard motor.
One of the hallmarks of SBVT honesty:   they've never changed their story.

No, really, there's no hint on the SBVT website that the story was ever changed.

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