One or two readers suggested that it be formatted and placed into a diary for future reference. So that's what I did.
If I goofed on the formatting I'll go back and fix it (I used a coding editor). If someone has a suggestion for making it more clear feel free to offer one.
None of this content is mine, it's just a copy and paste + format job.
Some research on this group
Here are the 10 crewmates who served with Kerry in Vietnam. All but Steve Gardner support John Kerry and stood with him as he made his speech to the DNC. (except Tom Belodeau who is deceased .
I'll let them speak for themselves, including Steve Gardner. The following are sourced quotes.
Starting in late January 1969, this crew completed 18 missions over an intense and dangerous 48 days, almost all of them in the dense jungles of the Mekong Delta. The most intense action came during an extraordinary eight days of more than 10 firefights, remembered by Kerry's crew as the "days of hell."
Rev. Alston is from Columbia, SC and served in Vietnam in the Navy as a Gunners Mate on PCF-94 with Senator Kerry.
"David Alston was the gunner atop Kerry's pilot house. Kerry, he told an audience here, was a compassionate commander. `We were in a lot of firefights,' Alston said. `You learn a lot about people. After a firefight, John would come up to me and he would put his hand on me and he'd say, 'David, are you all right?' `I didn't know then that I had a man of God on my boat,' Kerry said. `That's probably why I'm here today'." [Orlando Sentinel, 1/31/04]
`Down in the Mekong Delta, we lived together, we fought together, we bled together and we survived together,' said Alston. `Whether we were Democratic or Republican was not the issue,' he said. `The issues at that time were trust, courage, judgment and character.' Alston attached those attributes to Kerry and introduced his friend with no further ceremony." [Providence Journal-Bulletin, 3/23/03]
Alston is the crewmate who gave a speech at the DNC last week. The text is here
Mr. Sandusky is from Dunedin, FL and served in Vietnam in the Navy as the senior enlisted man on PCF-94 with Senator Kerry.
"Kerry commanded a Navy `Swift Boat' that patrolled the Mekong delta. His crew recalls Kerry as brainy and extremely aggressive, `a good leader and a bit of a hard-charger,' says Del Sandusky from Elgin, Ill." [Washington Post, 6/2/02]
"Del Sandusky, 58, of Elgin, Ill., and Clearwater, Fla., served under Kerry on a patrol boat in 1969. When another boat hit a mine, Kerry ordered the dead and injured brought on board and the sinking boat towed, six or seven miles, to the Gulf of Tonkin. Because Americans had died on the boat, Kerry, out of loyalty, wouldn't leave it behind for the enemy. `All the boat crew men volunteered to help in anyway we can,' with Kerry's political campaigns, Sandusky said. `Whatever he wants, we'll help him with. Because we believe in him.' " [AP, 12/6/02]
Mr. Short is from North Little Rock, AR and served in Vietnam in the Navy as a Gunners Mate on PCF-94 with Senator Kerry.
"In 1969, I was Sen. Kerry's gun mate atop of the Swift boat in Vietnam. And I just wanted to let everyone know that, contrary to all the rumors that you might hear from the other side, Sen. Kerry's blood is red, not blue. I know, I've seen it.
"If it weren't for Sen. John Kerry, on the 28th of February 1969, the day he won the Silver Star . . . you and I would not be having this conversation. My name would be on a long, black wall in Washington, D.C. I saw this man save my life."3
3La Ganga, Maria L. "Crewmates Attest to Kerry's Mettle as Wartime Commander." Los Angeles Times. 29 July 2004 (p. A13). Zoroya, Greg. "Vietnam Crewmates Steady at Kerry's Side." USA Today. 29 July 2004 (p. A4).
Mr. Thorson is from Ames, Iowa and served in Vietnam in the Navy as a Engineman on PCF-94 with Senator Kerry.
In support of this grassroots deployment, 73,000 Iowa veteran households received a mailing in December from Kerry's Vietnam swift boat crewmate Gene Thorsen, of Ames, IA, rallying them to "stand up for John Kerry the same way he stands up for veterans."
He said he knew back then that the skipper of his boat, John Kerry, was bound for high places. Almost 30 years later, Thorson got a call from Kerry asking for political help. Now, he often gives up his weekends to travel with other veterans and campaign with Kerry on his run for president.
By: Matt Neznanski, Staff Writer July 19, 2004
"He took care of all of us. He really did," Thorson said.
Des Moines Register
Tom Belodeau is deceased, he served on PCF-94 with Kerry
Kerry was helped by the fact that Belodeau stood beside him and said he had been misquoted."This man was not lying on the ground. This man was more than capable of destroying that boat and everybody on it. Senator Kerry did not give him that opportunity," Belodeau said. He also said that he was not sure whether or not he had hit the attacker.
May 06, 2004 National Review Online
Mr. Medeiros is from San Leandros, California and served in Vietnam in the Navy on PCF-94 with Senator Kerry.
"He made good decisions, I believe proper decisions," said Mike Medeiros of San Leandro, Calif., who served for four months on Kerry's swift boat in Vietnam. "And the fact that we all returned alive is a good indication that they were the right decisions."Medeiros was reunited with Kerry in 1996, when Republicans were attacking his military record in a heated Senate race. Kerry's crew mates came to set the record straight at the Charlestown Navy Yard, the same place they stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the eve of his nomination acceptance.
ABCNEWS.com July 28, 2004 From AP
Kerry captained this ship from November 1968 to January 1969. This command saw considerably less action
Mr. Wasser is from St. Anne, IL and served in Vietnam in the Navy as a Radarman on PCF-44 with Senator Kerry.
Mr. Kerry took command of P.C.F.-44 with a veteran crew headed by Mr. Wasser, a radarman second class. "Always, when there's a new guy on the boat, you check him out," Mr. Wasser said. "It only took me a few days. We knew that we had somebody special that cared for us. We bonded."
Combative and politically conservative, Mr. Wasser, from Kankakee, Ill., had a pair of American flags tattooed on his shoulder and still loathes Jane Fonda.
NYTimes Febuary 24 2004
What I saw back then [in Vietnam] was a guy with genuine caring and leadership ability who was aggressive when he had to be. What I see now is a guy who's not afraid to tackle tough issues. And he knows what the consequences are of putting people's kids in harm's way."
2. Braun, Stephen. "Kerry's War Tour Serves as Theme, Target." Los Angeles Times. 29 July 2004 (p. A13). Brinkley, Douglas. Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN 0-06-056523-3. Klein, Joe. "The Long War of John Kerry." The New Yorker. 2 December 2002. Kranish, Michael. "John F. Kerry: Candidate in the Making -- Part 2: Heroism, and Growing Concern About War." The Boston Globe. 16 June 2003.
Mr. Whitlow is from Huntsville, AR and served in Vietnam in the Navy as a Boatswain Mate on PCF-44 with Senator Kerry.
"I figured with the abilities he had, he was going to go high, but I didn't have any idea about him running for president," said Whitlow, 57, wearing a cap decorated with Kerry campaign pins.
Whitlow said he recalled Kerry as a humble seaman when he joined Whitlow's crew as a lieutenant junior grade in 1968.
Kerry told crewmates, "I know you guys don't need me but I sure need you," said Whitlow, who served as a boatswain mate.
"He accepted us for who we were," Whitlow said. "The decisions that he made saved our lives.
"He never shot from the hip when it came to decisions," Whitlow said. "He'd always confront the problems head on."
Whitlow, a Kerry campaign coordinator for veterans in western and southern Arkansas, began campaigning for Kerry in September 2003. In January, Whitlow traveled with Kerry to Iowa and New Hampshire.
The Times Record Fort Smith, Arkansas Thursday, July 29, 2004
Mr. Zaladonis is from Sanford, FL and served in Vietnam in the Navy on PCF-44 with Senator Kerry.
"I never saw John back down from anything," crewmember Bill Zaladonis says
April 13, 2004 USA Today
Mr. Hatch served in Vietnam in the Navy on PCF-44 with Senator Kerry.
Stephen W. Hatch of Altoona, Pa., with four tattoos, who says he supports Mr. Kerry though he wants no part of politics.
NYTimes Febuary 24 2004
"He wouldn't let you go randomly down the river shooting up everything in sight," says Stephen Hatch, who served on the first of Kerry's two boats.
April 13, 2004 USA Today
Stephen M. Gardner
Served in Vietnam in the Navy on PCF-44 with Senator John Kerry
"Kerry was chickenshit," he insists. "Whenever a firefight started he always pulled up stakes and got the hell out of Dodge."
"I was driving down the road, and I hit that [radio] button and Rush was talking about Kerry and his campaign and how something just didn't feel right to him," Gardner recalled, his voice full of conviction. "Something about what John Kerry did or was doing, just really didn't set right with him. And you know I served with this guy, and the bottom line to it is; harsh as this may sound or as good as it sounds to any Democrat, out there, John Kerry is another `Slick Willy.' He's another Bill Clinton and that's exactly what he is. And I'm telling you right now, that if John Kerry gets to be president of these United States, it'll be a sorry day in this world for us. We can't stand another Democrat like that in there again. We'll get our asses in such a sling this time; we won't be able to get out of it. And the bottom line to it is, I don't care how much John Kerry's changed after he moved off my boat, his initial patterns of behavior when I met him and served under him was somebody who ran from the enemy, rather than engaged it. If I'd had Rush's 800 number, or known how to reach him, I would have called in."
"I've told a few of my friends that he was an asshole," Gardner says. "But I'm not looking to make news."
"Kerry sat some of them down and convinced them to buy into his side of what happened over there,"
"When you're as persuasive as Kerry it's not hard to make a guy change something that he saw."
A recent interview with Gardner is at the Time link. The interview explains why he haven't been heard of until recently. All of the Gardner quotes are here and more.
The author of the Time article states that he believes Gardner's motives are political, and after reading what he had to say I'm inclined to agree.
Mr. Rassmann is from Florence, OR and served in Vietnam as a Special Forces Officer in the Army.
He clung to the net as bullets whizzed past. `Next thing I knew, John came out in the middle of all this,' Rassmann says. `I couldn't believe it. He was going to get killed. He ran to the edge, reached over with his good arm [Kerry had been wounded in his right arm] and pulled me over the lip.' Rassmann later recommended Kerry for the Silver Star, and was upset when the Army instead awarded Kerry a lesser Bronze Star with a `V' for valor." [Los Angeles Times, 3/13/04]
Here is Kerry's request to go to Vietnam
I have seen this website. It reminds me of the attack on John McCain 2000.
The leader of this group, John O'Neill didn't meet Kerry until 1971.
from the website
"our group includes men who served beside Kerry in combat as well as his commanders."
The only man here who served beside Kerry in combat is Steve Gardner.
Lieutenant Commander George Elliott
In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action LTJG Kerry was unsurpassed. He constantly reviewed tactics and lessons learned in river operations and applied his experience at every opportunity. On one occasion while in tactical command of a three boat operation his units were taken under fire from ambush. LTJG Kerry rapidly assessed the situation and ordered his units to turn directly into the ambush. This decision resulted in routing the attackers with several enemy KIA.
LTJG Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group. His bearing and appearance are above reproach. He has of his own volition learned the Vietnamese language and is instrumental in the successful Vietnamese training program.
During the period of this report LTJG Kerry has been awarded the Silver Star medal, the Bronze Star medal, the Purple Heart medal (2nd and 3rd awards).
Lt. Commander Grant Hibbard
Hibbard's evaluation was brief and incomplete because Hibbard oversaw Kerry's service for only about two weeks. Kerry's duty under Hibbard included "counter infiltration operations against Viet Cong forces. Engaged in combat operations." Hibbard marked a few performance categories, noting that Kerry's initiative, cooperation, and bearing ranked among the top few. But unlike other evaluators who wrote about specific actions by Kerry, Hibbard did not do so, providing this explanation: "The short period LTJG Kerry was attached to Coast Division 14 prevents further evaluation."
Captain Adrian Lonsdale
In the November 4, 1996, issue of South Coast Today, wrote: "Adrian Lonsdale remembers a young John F. Kerry as a naval officer who was a good debater, even back in his days in Vietnam. "'He and I and others used to have long discussions at the officers club,' said Mr. Lonsdale of Mattapoisett, a former Coast Guard officer who commanded a division in which the Massachusetts senator was attached back in 1969. 'They were very spirited discussions about the war and the politics back home.' "'He was opposed to the war but it didn't make any difference in his performance,' said the former owner and still instructor at Northeast Maritime Institute in New Bedford. 'He was a very good officer.' "Capt. Lonsdale was among a group of former Vietnam veterans the Massachusetts Democrat brought to the Charlestown navy yard recently to rebut a Boston Globe column that raised questions about Sen. Kerry's Vietnam service, particularly the Silver Star he won. "Mr. Lonsdale was in charge of a two-division flotilla opereating [sic] out of Phu Quoc, a big island near the Cambodian border. One division was made up of Swift boats, fast 50-foot offshore boats, while the other was composed of 82-foot Coast Guard patrol boats."
Note this is not a fitness report
Admiral Zumwalt signed Kerry's silver star recommendation. In 1996, he defended John Kerry in the midst of a close political campaign. Admiral Zumwalt is deceased, his son decided to speak on his behalf on the website .
Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann
I had a quote from Vietnam but I lost it. I will find it and out it another email.
He did not write a fitness report.
Captain Charles Plumly
Kerry was under his command for a brief time. There are no reports from him about Kerry from 1969.
Joseph Streuli and George M. Elliott
Evaluation co-signed by Joseph Streuli and George M. Elliott on January 28, 1969, and March 17, 1969, respectively:
... exhibited all of the traits of an officer in a combat environment. He frequently exhibited a high sense of imagination and judgment in planning operations against the enemy in the Mekong Delta.
Captain Allen W. Slifer
October 19, 1967, evaluation from Captain Allen W. Slifer: "A top notch officer in every measurable trait. Intelligent, mature, and rich in educational background and experience, ENS Kerry is one of the finest young officers I have ever met and without question one of the most promising. "
Admiral Walter F. Schlech
March 2, 1970 evaluation from Admiral Walter F. Schlech:
"... one of the finest young officers with whom I have served in a long naval career."
Captain E.W. Harper, Jr
September 3, 1968, evaluation from Captain E.W. Harper, Jr.:
LTJG KERRY is an intelligent and competent young naval officer who has performed his duties in an excellent to outstanding manner.
The last Four Commanders here are not mentioned on the website, but I think their evaluation of him belongs here. This list includes all Navy fitness reports.
The other men on this website do not claim to have served with, commanded, or even know Kerry.
I believe most of these men are anti-Kerry because of his activities after the war. If you read their statements, most don't even mention his service in Vietnam. The ones who do had something very different to say at the time. (except Gardner who said nothing then)
It is their right to campaign against Kerry, but not to rewrite Kerry's service in Veitnam.
The Commanders are career officers and I believe more likely to oppose anti-war activities
This group has a couple big financial backers from Texas, who are not mentioned on the website. Their political donations for 2002 in Texas are noted below. They are also donors at the national level to republicans.
Registered as a "527" organization with the Internal Revenue Service, the "Swift Boat Veterans" group can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money for campaign activities, but is prohibited from working directly with the Bush campaign or the Republican Party.
This group has $158,000.
$100,000 from Bob Perry he is from Texas
Bob Perry donated $2,983,500 in fiscal year 2002 in Texas, 96,4% to republicans
As far as I can tell he did not serve in the military, he is not mentioned on the website
$25,000 from Harlan Crow he is from Texas
Harlan Crow donated $323,200 in fiscal year 2002 in Texas, 86% to republicans
As far as I can tell he did not serve in the military, he is not mentioned on the website
$25,000 from O'Neill
O'Neill is the leader of this group.