SHERWOOD: In other wars, captured Americans, subjected to the hell of an enemy prison, were considered heroes. In other wars, they were not abandoned. In Vietnam, they were betrayed.
FILM TITLE ("Stolen Honor")
[more after the fold]
Tonight's report is cut from the same cloth. Only for me, it's a lot more personal.
VIETNAM ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD: It's about a war I've fought in and what I saw happening when I got back from it. It s about a treachery that was in its own way, as frightening as the hand-to-hand combat that I experienced as a young marine. It's about what I felt when I first saw and heard this:
KERRY PICTURE FROM TESTIMONY
KERRY VOICEOVER: "We are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions, in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, the killing of prisoners, accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam."
SHERWOOD: Wait a second, I asked myself, did I hear that right? Was I or my fellow marines being accused of the same atrocities John Kerry had committed? Later in his testimony he claimed that American soldiers in Vietnam were guilty of even more heinous acts of barbarism:
KERRY PICTURE FROM TESTIMONY
KERRY VOICEOVER: "...they had personally raped, cut off ears, cot off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam."
SHERWOOD: As I heard John Kerry speak I could feel an inner hurt no surgeon's scalpel could remove. I felt the honour of fighting for my country decomposing just as surely as if all the battle ribbons have been stripped from my chest, leaving only torn patches where once the dignity and sacrifice had been.
VIETNAM ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: If the words I heard dishonoured the dead and the wounded, what must they've meant for my comrades still in battle, or even worse, those in the prisons and the torture chambers of the enemy? It is to the American POW in Vietnam that this report is dedicated [...] from their lips that the bitter truth would long last be heard.
VIETNAM ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: The decade-long war in Vietnam was the longest America ever fought, and the only foreign war America never won. Not that we didn't try. At its height, 540,000 American troops went to battle. More than 58,000 were killed and more than 300,000 wounded. Twice as many bombs were dropped on the enemy than the combined US-British bombing of Germany in World War II. The price paid in treasury exceeded 150 billion dollars. The price exacted from the national spirit still being paid today.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: In a cause lost more at home than on the battlefield, the reason for containing communism first enunciated by President Truman and later implemented by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, was undermined by voices at home that screamed protest and urged withdrawal. The only monuments to this war would be the dead, the maimed, the despairing and the forlorn, an anonymous source is quoted as saying. This despondency not only divided our citizens, but encouraged our enemies to inflict even greater atrocities on American POW.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: People like: Kenneth Cordier, John Jack Fellowes, Ralph Gaither, Paul Galanti, Carlyle "Smithy" Harris, Gordon "Swede" Larson, Thomas McNish, Robinson Risner, Jack Van Loan, James Warner, Ronald Webb, Leo Thorsness, recipient of the Medal of Honour.
VIETNAM PRISON FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: What was home to many prisoners 30 years ago was this place - a prison built by the French before they were run out of the country by the Vietnamese. Our prisoners called it "the Hanoy Hilton". No one ever dared to call room service, since a knock on the door usually meant a beating, or a sadistic interrogation. The cells were damp, barren, and shuttered from the sunlight. Communication between them was accomplished by a tap code the prisoners had invented. But mostly the cells were solemn places, with the fore-boding silence broken often by screams of pain, and there was plenty of that to go around.
GORDON LARSON: They'd bend you over double and pass a rope around your body and then jump up and down your back pulling that rope tighter and tighter and tighter, cutting off all your circulation... and after a short time it became extremely painful. Then they had other types where they'd have "yubuls".. they rode a bar through your legs and put a weight of a heavy bar through these "yubuls" , through your ankles and the weight of it would cut-off circulation and create an intense pain. But the rope was the worst, it had lasting effects sometime as they'd tie your arms with the rope so tight [..] they would cross my elbows behind my back It cut-off circulation, sometimes it'd be days before you get your feeling back in your hands. There.. everyone reached a point [sigh] you had to bend to their will, just couldn't take it anymore.
JACK FELLOWES: Oh, they they'd... great torture to extract a confession out of you. I've spent 14 hours in a rope trip, and when I came out I couldn't move my arms. And, they want me to run, I can't run, I can't move. And I spent the next six months or so [..] back. I couldn't move from the shoulders down. And they wanted a confession. They wanted me to confess my crimes against the people, and this was going on all the time.
TOM MCNISH: Interestingly enough when I got through torturing [,...] that would under, that you would write something or do something, whatever they were after, the last thing they'd always ask for was asked, as for demanded, was that you write in a statement saying "I have been well treated by the lenient and humane people of the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam". This was after they tortured you to get whatever else they wanted.
LEO THORSNESS: I was told by them the penalty was death... execution, and I was threatened at one time, I will never forget it, they said that "unless you confess to crimes, tomorrow morning you would be executed". Tomorrow morning came and I heard some guards march up, umm, obviously the execution didn't come but it, umm, it gives you pause for thought.
KEN CORDIER: They had a standard torture technique that was used on almost everyone. And that was to put your hands in maniculls (?), not hand-cuffs, maniculls, which are clamps that you can't move in behind you, behind your back and then put ropes around your upper arms and tighten up on them and till the elbows touch.
DRAWING OF WHAT IS DEPICTED SHOWN
KEN CORDIER: And then they just go away and leave you until you scream loud enough and long enough, and they come in and loosen the ropes and resume the interrogations. The first time that happened to me they released the bonds and continued the interrogation.. I started giving them some answers they quickly deduced were largely false. And so they put me back in the ropes and as they were tying me up again I yelled at the interrogator (I was still pretty brave at this point) - I said "you are barbarians, you are torturing me and I am injured and I need to see a doctor not be tortured, what is wrong with you". And I said "my back is broken I am in a lot of pain". Well that was a big mistake, because in addition to put me in the ropes they hog-tied me - pout a rope around my neck and my ankles....
DRAWING OF WHAT IS DEPICTED SHOWN
KEN CORDIER: ... and arch my back, uh, backwards. And then I found out later that this is also standard treatment. Every guy that had an injury, they tortured the injury to break him quick, more quickly. A broken arm would be twisted behind his back, or broken leg, put him in his chair and twist the leg behind him. That was standard treatment. Very pragmatic, uh, it made the guy break quicker.
TOM MCNISH: Those who resisted torture to the point where they became.. they lost control of their mental faculties became totally psychologically separated from reality, developed extreme phases of psychosis.. The Vietnamese would just allow them to starve themselves to death rather then keeping them as ever-lasting mementoes of their inhumanity
VIETNAM ARCHIVAL POW FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: And dozens of Americans were killed in captivity, but the true number may never be known. If such brutality was not severe enough on an average day, it was even worse when Jane Fonda...
JANE FONDA ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: ...Tom Haden, and other anti-war activists came to visit. The Vietnamese wanted to exploit their condemnation of America, and our prisoners were expected to be a responsive audience. They were ordered to behave, if not applaud, and were guaranteed the best seats in the house for every performance.
RON WEBB: Jane Fonda, when she came there, made tapes that were played in our cells. I never saw her face to face but she made tapes hat indicated that we were criminals, and that any punishment we were receiving from the North Vietnamese was legitimate and we deserved it. And that we should be punished.
GORDON LARSON: One of our biggest problem.. hang-ups was how in the world could our government allow these people to come over there, without a visa, without authorization, against the law, visit a country that we're fighting and give aid and comfort to them while we were still languishing in their prison cells.. it's hard to fathom.
JIM WARNER: They'd draw a circle on the stone floor, with a piece of chalk, and I was to stand there in that circle.. and I lasted 97 hours, but when I finally gave it up of course I got into it with a guard and I got beaten up pretty bad after that broke some teeth. But while I was in that circle I was able to see the front gate and I saw Tom Haden enter the camp and I saw Mary McCarthy enter the camp. And of course they were hyped at that time as being visitors to North Vietnam and.. [I] never met them face to face but I was allowed to see this activity coming through the gate of the camp, I guess, to influence me that Americans were obviously opposed to the war, and that I ought to be also.
ROBINSON RISNER: I was in pain a lot of the time. I was being treated inhumanely. It was difficult for me when the Vietnamese, although the Vietnamese would try to get us to [..] and I know that we had more than one person coming to Vietnam who was, the Vietnamese told me, these people said, they were winning the war into the streets of America. I certainly didn't approve of that. I, I didn't think it was right for an American to come over and bolster the Vietnamese' morale.
GORDON LARSON: In the case of Jim Stockdale, of Admiral Stockdale, they wanted him to meet the delegation, and he came up with the idea of blackening his own eye to keep from meeting that delegation. He picked up a stool and smashed the stool at his face twice to blacken his eye so that he would not have to meet that delegation. As a result he was severely tortured and didn't meet the delegation but he went through hell for his actions.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: American POW like any other Americans, were, if nothing else, ingenious. They found ways in the most dire of circumstances to confound the enemy and knock its best-laid deceptions off-stride. As when Admiral Jeremiah Sherton blinked the word "torture"...
FOOTAGE FROM FILM SHOWING THIS
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER:...in Morse code, while being forced to make a false confession by his captors.
CARLYLE HARRIS: I happened to have found about a tap code that was usually [..] in WWII, and I shared it with the other guys. And because this was so early on, we were all the early shoot-downs, that, when we got back to ourselves [...] we immediately started using that tap code. And it had not been taught to everyone, and it was the code that we used from then on out, through our incarceration to communicate between the cells.
For a long time, you know we heard it and I guess I didn't pay much attention to it. We finally realized that we really were able to communicate and, and in some places they demanded absolute silence, but we just found other ways to communicate by flashing a hand or a piece of paper under the crack that someone could read across the way or to use coughs and sneezes and hacks for one through five, uh, we just found more secure ways they could not identify as tapping, to communicate. And they never shut us down.
AMERICAN ANTIWAR PROTEST FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: Little that the American POW imagined that half way around the world events were conspiring to make their precarious situation even more desperate.
WAR PICTURE OF KERRY + SWIFT BOAT CREW
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: That an American Naval lieutenant after four-month tour of duty in Vietnam was meeting secretly at an undisclosed location in Paris with a top enemy diplomat. That the same lieutenant joined forces with the anti-war efforts
PICTURE OF KERRY SITTING 2 ROWS BACK FROM FONDA
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: ...and was the spokesman for the so-called Vietnam Veterans Against The War, many of whom would later be discovered as frauds, men who had never set foot on the battlefield or left the comfort of the States, or even served in uniform, except in mock contempt of the military.
KERRY PICTURES; ANTIWAR PICTURES
Their lurid fantasies of butchery in Vietnam were ceased upon by John Kerry to help him organize the so-called Winter Soldier Investigation - the template he would use to brand all Vietnam veterans.
ARCHIVE FOOTAGE FROM WINTER SOLDIER INVESTIGATION:
KERRY: Is there something that you could say [..] in terms of the crimes that had happened.. What brings you here, what makes you say "I want to testify"
VET: I almost need a book to answer that, man, it's like, uh, just so many things bothered me about, about just that short period that I was over-there.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: Never mind that many of the horror storied seem made up on the spot:
QUESTIONER/VET(?): You may be able to come up with a, I was trying to find somebody that knew something about a village (?) called Quang Tree (?)
VET: Right, I got that because I was in the area..
SAME VET?:.. and was to set the example to show that we weren't [bleeped] around .. the thing we do is, we burn don the village and kill everybody.
ANOTHER: [cut] whenever they are questioning me they would get me to elaborate on that, uh, I forgot all about that one
ANOTHER: How could you forget it, I remembered it and I wasn't even in on it.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: This was the "evidence" John Kerry would swear to before the US SENATE. Testimony that would quickly travel half-way around the world to convince our prisoners that back home they stood accused and abandoned.
PICTURE FROM SENATE HEARING
KERRY VOICEOVER: "The country doesn't know it yet, but it's created a monster. A monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and trade in violence and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history. Men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal which no one has yet grasped." "And we cannot consider ourselves America's best men when we are ashamed of and hated what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia."
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: Enemy propagandists have found a new and willing accomplice, and for some prisoners consequences were swift and deeply personal.
JIM WARNER: The interrogator showed me a transcript of a testimony that my mother had given at something called The Winter Soldier Hearings. I read her testimony and it wasn't damning
SHOT OF TITLE PAGE OF VIRGINIA WARNER TESTIMONY (MOTHER OF JIM WARNER)
JIM WARNER: But then I saw some of the other stuff that had gone on at this Winter Soldiers Hearing, and I wondered how did somebody get my mother, persuaded her to come and appear in something like this. And then uh, shortly thereafter he showed me some statement of John Kerry. I know that he did talk to her and he talked to my sisters. And, uh, I really don't know what was in their minds to participate in this, but I do know this, and that is, you know, it is really, it is really a contemptible act to take a grieving old lady...
PICTURE OF KERRY
JIM WARNER: ...and use, uh, prey upon her grief and manipulate her grief for, purely, for the promotion of your own political agenda.
KERRY AT HEARING
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: If the Kerry accusations weren't disturbing enough, the timing of them raises even more serious question about the motive and character of the accuser.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: In 1971 when Kerry delivered his "stop the killing end the war" manifesto, the war had all but ended - less than half of our army remained in Vietnam. A year later they too would be gone. Yet to the average American combatant having been branded by Kerry as a demon and a murderer, getting out of Vietnam alive was a high-risk adventure.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: But in 1971 there were also 700 prisoners still being held in Hanoy. Mostly American pilots, now pawns in a deadly international game of face-saving. Their lives hung by a thread, their fate entirely in the hands of a pitiless enemy which held no compunction about inflicting pain, torture and death on their defenceless captives. Now their nightly tap codes on prison cells not only spoke of reprisals from a ruthless enemy, but the new peril that threatened your chances of ever returning home again - the damning words of an American Naval lieutenant they once called their own.
PICTURE OF KERRY BEING AWARDED A MEDAL
JIM WARNER: The interrogator went through all of these statements from John Kerry, he starts pounding on the table see, hear this Naval officer, he admits that you are criminal and that you deserve punishment. Well, look, they told us this is a camp for punishment. We are in solitary confinement. When the guy starts pounding the table and, and you can spot this in him when they start, uh, the voice starts to rise, the face gets red, that's usually a sign that something bad is about to happen.
LEO THORSNESS: The things he said were just devastating because he is using words like "war criminal" and that kind of stuff. As a POW, we were being told we were war criminals, and we would be tried for war crimes, and unless we confess and ask for forgiveness and bad-mouth the war and take their side of the war, we'll never go home. I mean, you talk, and then here's a guy at home, he's been in Vietnam so he has some respect for the peers(?) over there and now he swaps to the other side and he is saying the same things we are being tortured to say. That was a very difficult time.
KEN CORDIER: Well my reaction to the Kerry testimony, the perjurer's testimony at that Senate hearing committee in April of 1971m ah, I was outraged, and still am. That he willingly said things which were untrue, the very same points that we took torture not to write and say. They, they uh they tortured us and made us write war crimes confession to be used later... where we admitted, confessed to committing war crimes and that we condemn our government's policy of being in Vietnam. And that we ask their forgiveness. And there was gall in my mouth to write these words but I couldn't take any more of the torture. And for someone to do that, willingly, and, and to, for someone to pass himself off as representing all veterans in Vietnam..
KEN CORDIER: ... and saying these outrageous things that were totally untrue.. it just uh... To me it's , it's the measure of the man.
LEO THORSNESS: Every military combat guy I've talked to from Vietnam said their greatest fear was not being killed but being a POW. And as you know there were people captured in South Vietnam were literally skinned alive and so, most brutal... And Kerry is giving the capturers ammunition to treat people like that if they are captured. These are people he knew, where in the world is his loyalty to the people of the military.
SHERWOOD: But what about the allegations themselves? How true were they? How many were out-and-out fabrication, lies, designed to shock America, throw one last spotlight on he waning anti-war movement? And how many were driven by one man's personal political ambitions?
PAUL GALANTI: When he came back and told those lies about these atrocities that he personally witnessed, and ,uh, ears being cut off - he never saw anybody's ears being cut-off - he knew, or should have known those guys he was with were frauds, they were just outright frauds.
JACK VAN LOAN: To say that we were rapists, we were murderers, we were pillagers, is absolutely, is absolutely a lie, there's just no two ways about it.
JIM WARNER: As to whether I believe that Kerry had actually seen these things.. no.. uh.. we understand something happened at My Lai. Uh, frankly, I certainly, if you have told me the Marines have done this I wouldn't believe it because I can't comprehend that we would have let an officer get away with something like that. But that's beside the point, uh, the My Lai massacre happened, but the guy Kelly was punished for it. Uh, these things did not go on all the time.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: Yes, all America cringed earlier, in 1969, when Lieutenant Kelly's actions at the massacre at My Lai hit the front pages. But wasn't this an isolated incident? Were not the cruelties of My Li exposed by the soldiers there - American soldiers, who refused to participate - whose revulsion compelled them to tell of the horrors they've witnessed?
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: Was not John Kerry taking the exception and making it the rule? More than that, wasn't he saying that Americans, by their nature, were a murderous horde, unrestrained by accepted rules of combat or even the most basic forms of human decency?
KERRY PICTURE FROM TESTIMONY
KERRY VOICEOVER: "We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers that hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum..." "We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shoot anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals."
SHERWOOD: Intended or not, Lieutenant Kerry painted a [..] portrait of Vietnam veterans, literally creating an image of those who served in combat as deranged drug-addicted psychopaths, baby-killers. And that odious image has endured impressed upon a popular culture for more than 30 years.
Nearly every book and motion picture produced about Vietnam since 1971 echoes the litany of atrocities John Kerry laid at the feet of men who served there, especially those in front-line battle positions who bore the brunt of suffering and death. It was his evil American soldier on a bloody rampage that filled the screens and lined the pockets of producers of films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Casualties of War.
He wrote the first draft of history, not of Vietnam, but of those who fought there, and his was a history of shame and cruelty, dishonour and unspeakable barbarity. But was it the truth, or were all Vietnam veterans slandered, their honour stolen?
TOM MCNISH: All of the contacts that I've had with veterans from South Vietnam have straight-out said that that did not happen, those were point-blank lies.
JACK FELOWES: I'm also horrified by the fact that all these people were doing it and .. and couldn't produce anybody that had actually done it. Then he adds on that he did it, which automatically means that he is a war criminal... if he says which I believe he said that he did it too. It was... We just don't do that, we are Americans and, and not that we try to conceal things, but certainly wouldn't come out and start talking about things that aren't even true. And that really.. and I thought he'd be more accountable for it, I really did.
JIM WARNER: If he had actually seen these things, would he say that on television, risking the chance that somebody would say "why the hell didn't you stop it?"
LEO THORSNESS: Yeah, when John Kerry talked about the atrocities and war crimes, that was so contrary to the war that I knew - example - in the air war in North Vietnam if there were a sand site which would ...shooting us down, their missile sites, their flat guns (?) they were within two miles of a pagoda, we couldn't go within two miles of a pagoda, we did, uh, we had to fly on certain headings, because the bombs if they hung on the airplane for too long and we gave them every advantage to shoot us down, because of the many rules that McNamara, Johnson, that people had put on. We were not committing war crimes, we were fighting that war with one arm tied behind us.
RON WEBB: It was understandable that people opposed the war. It was understandable that [...] the young people that didn't want to participate in it. It was a long and ugly war and it was wronged by the politicians and it wasn't permitted to be won by the military and so consequently the country was dragged through an enormous, uh, 10-12 years of heart ache. But to have former military people actually come up and testify against our activities in Vietnam and to accuse us of being war criminals, was devastating.
JIM WARNER: He was saying "we had done these things". And he was saying things that he knew to be false, and knew would harm us. That means he abandoned his comrades, he burned up his brotherhood, band of brothers, membership card, when he did that.
FAMILY PICTURES OF POW AND WIVES
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: The wives of POW are no less adamant about their convictions. Louise Harris waited 7 years for her husband to return from the war. Mary Jane McManus was married just 3 days before her husband Kevin left for Vietnam. It would be nearly 6 years before she saw him again.
LOUSIE HARRIS: I believed that Smithy believed in what he was doing or he wouldn't have been doing it. And I knew him to be a man of conscience. And I knew a lot of the fellows that were along there with him. As a matter of fact so many of our squadron were over there and Hanoy, including Roby Brasner who was the squadron commander. And I knew the quality of these men. And I knew what they were saying was not true. And it, it was terribly upsetting to me that nobody covered anything except that kind of wrong thinking. As if Americans would truly go into countries and rape the women and kill the babies and do horrible unspeakable things to the people.
We were there to help those people, and I believe that with every fibre of my being. And whether or not the exact conduct of the war went as we wanted it to, I knew in my heart that men like Smithy and most of the people that I knew would not do the kinds of things that John Kerry was saying were being done, I didn't believe it.
MARY JANE MCMANUS: I knew he was getting publicity, but I didn't believe that the American people were gonna fall for what he was saying. They couldn't = they had sons, brothers, husbands over -there fighting. They were war criminals, coming back - they weren't. They were good men, who because of Kerry's testimony, later, came back and were spat upon. They couldn't even wear their uniforms in the street.
I'm not gonna say all the wives were thinking, but a vast majority of them, that Kerry was, obviously as my husband says ruining the reputations of those who already died, ruining the reputations of those who were still serving, of whom my brother [..], and worst of all, killing any chances for our husbands to get home, from Vietnam.
SHERWOOD: And that, perhaps, more than any other issue, still haunts and angers many of these men and their families. Were john Kerry and his fellow anti-war activists responsible for lengthening their imprisonment, and in doing so, causing the deaths of men who may otherwise have survived? Their answers are unequivocal and chilling.
TOM MCNISH: They unquestionably lengthened by untold number of months, maybe years my time required to spend there. And had anybody acted upon their recommendations, to the extent that they requested, and basically capitulated and withdrawn our troops from Vietnam, we would have been committed to a death in North Vietnam either over a long period of time from old age or immediately when the Vietnamese found us no longer useful.
LEO THORSNESS: Without question, we were held captives longer because of the anti-war people. From the Kerrys to the likes/names (?) of Fonda and Haden, the ones we knew over there, they encouraged the enemy to hang on.
JACK VAN LOAN: It took the anti-war movement to help them [..] to win, so those people who participated in that anti-war movement they delayed the war, they caused additional American casualties, and incidentally, by the way, they kept me in jail longer, none of which I appreciated.
JACK FELLOWES: We stayed 2 more years because of him. John Kerry, Jane Fonda and all that crowd, the anti-war movement, [..] 2 years.
RALPH GAITHER: I am convinced that Kerry's and his fellow anti-war people caused the war to be extended for at least 2 more years. Throwing medals over the wall, speaking against our country in time of war, he knows it's going to extend the warm it's going to delay , it's going to complicate things. And it's probably hurt a lot of people, a lot of prisoners like Mike Sayeth (?) [...] I am convinced had the war been over 6 months earlier he would have been home alive today, but he is not.
BOB DOLE PICTURE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: Former senator Bob Dole, a decorated war veteran himself, recently called on Senator Kerry to apologize to all Vietnam veterans for his actions in 1971. Will an apology heal the wounds Senator Kerry has re-opened?
LEO THORSNESS: I would like to see John Kerry say "I was wrong. We did not ,as policy, commit atrocities, commit barbarities over there,", as he described. It just isn't so. And if he were to admit that he did that just for political gain or to get attention or to make a point in exaggerated [sic], I'd have a lot more respect for him.
JACK VAN LOAN: What Senator Kerry did is irreparable. You can't repair that kind of damage. You can't , you can't get up and tell a bald-faced lie.. and that's when he said we were rapists, we were murderers, we were pillagers, et cetera, et cetera, that was a bald-faced lie. There's nothing you can do; you cannot apologize for that, you can't say "what I really meant was this", there, there's nothing that you can do, it is irreparable.
JIM WARNER: Frankly, an apology is not going to do anything for me now, because he doesn't owe an apology to me, he owes it to all those who served in Vietnam, and for that matter to everyone who has ever served in he Armed Forces, peace time or war time, from the beginning of the country; he turned his back on all of us.
COMING HOME FOOTAGE FROM WWII
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: When a war ends, those who fought it can expect to hear the praise of a grateful nation - honoured for their sacrifice, remembered for their valour. But those returning from Vietnam experienced none of that. Instead, they were vilified...
FOOTAGE POST VIETNAM
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: ..condemned, made to feel unclean, called sick, and even spat upon.
FOOTAGE OF GEORGE "BUD" DAY
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: For men like colonel "Bud" Day who spent 67 months as a POW, and survived to become one of the most decorated veterans of the last century, including the nation's highest award for valour, the medal of honour, for distinguished veterans like Colonel Day, the damage done to those who served in Vietnam can never be reconciled.
GEORGE DAY: I was also outraged to learn that my fellow soldiers and marines who had come back and gone through some of those reception areas and being spit on, and they told them "don't wear your uniform", uh, on the airplane, don't subject yourself to all this abuse, all of these people had honourable service and to have been mistreated the way they were when they came back from the war having done the very best [..] in the jungles of Vietnam, this was truly an outrageous thing.
And right to this day, 2004, we still have not recovered our good name. The thing about the Kerry comments back in 1971 was that they were so sensational, they were so outrageous, that they were precisely the kind of thing that a propaganda expert and (in?) the news media were looking for. We went to that war with good intentions, we fought it under honourable conditions, we fought it under Geneva conventions, and he has blackened the entire history, not just that day, not just for a few months, not for just a year, but now we are looking at 3 decades.
He has destroyed the good name of all Vietnam veterans. This man committed an act of treason, he lied, he besmirched our name, he did it for his own self-interest, and now he wants us to forget. I can never forget.
VIETNAM WAR FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: The Vietnam War is not an experience most Americans can [...] choose to relive. Those who fought it and those who fled it would both prefer to consign its painful memory to history and move on. But Senator John Kerry won't let us.
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: By making his actions during and after the war the corner-stone of his political career...
VIETNAM WAR FOOTAGE
SHERWOOD VOICEOVER: ... he forces us to feel again the agonies and regurgitate all doubts. And because of that, the long road from the hell of Vietnam has grown even longer, and those of us who were there seem condemned to condemnation he and others have rested upon us. Perhaps it will take a political debate in an election year to finally cleanse away the persistent stain of that war and drive off the demons that haunt our culture.
Perhaps films like "Apocalypse Now" which reflects John Kerry's view of a murderous American will no longer be made because the dishonesty of it has been exposed. Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, the media would own up to its complicity in allowing the Kerry testimony to remain relatively unchallenged and give the voices you have heard tonight a hearing throughout the land.
Our American POW in Vietnam feel betrayed and unjustly accused, as do untold thousands of Vietnam veterans who served honourably and well. They believe too much has been made of the hand that helped the soldiers back onto a [..] and too little written about how one man drowned the hopes of thousands, dishonoured their sacrifice, and robbed them of their heritage, their place in history.
They don't want a belated apology. They want John Kerry to be finally accountable for his disgrace (?), the harm he inflicted on an entire generation of good soldiers. Simply put, they want the truth, not parades or a hero worship. Just the plain truth, and their dignity and honour restored.
I'm Carlton Sherwood, I know a lot about Vietnam, and the men who fought and bled there. They didn't throw away their decorations or their honour. Perhaps the man who did would come forward and set the record straight. Good night and Godspeed.