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Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Vets Respond to "Let It Alone"
posted by Bathus

Readers' responses to "Let It Alone," republished in The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal under the title "Kerry's Lost Opportunity," included quite a number from veterans. (Responses posted to "Let It Alone" are here and responses posted to the WSJ version are here.) In addition to the comments posted online, I received a slew of emails. Here's a sample of the comments and emails received from vets:
Your recent WSJ story on john kerry (kerry’s lost opportunity) is the best summary I’ve read to date. It is right on glide slope. I know. I am a Viet Nam Vet, retired Naval Aviator who was there during that time. We all knew (even the enlisted men, no women back then) about fonda, clark, hayden and fullbright. They were despised for what they were doing as you described in your article. kerry & his liberal a**holes have opened a festering wound that has blindsided them . . . . for good reason. They are too deep in dodo to easily extricate themselves. To be honest, I hope they drown in their own crap.

No one wanted a Purple Heart back then, because of what it meant . . . . This is not about partisan politics. Veterans of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and the conflicts of the recent 15 years are all affected by what kerry has done. He will pay the price one way or another. This reaction by vets will not be over on his time schedule. He has no idea how deep his stupid idealisms have affected us. All he can do is bend over and spread his lily white buns and enjoy what is about to happen.
I'm a Vietnam vet (1965) and I believe you hit the target. I've never quite gotten over my experience there. While I never experienced any of the things that may did (PTSS, etc), I still on occasion grieve for what might or should have been. The fall of Saigon in 1975 was one of the awfullest days of my life. Seeing all our work and sacrifice evaporate when NVA tanks "liberated" the city is a sight that will always haunt me. That and the FACT that I and thousands of my countrymen were libelled and defamed by a few who cared little for the cause we had undedrtaken.

I think there are a lot of us veterans of 'Nam who have a wide range of feelings about this guy. Most of them are revulsion, anger. I really liked what you had to say in your piece "Let it Alone." It struck a real chord. I don't think that some in the public understand that at all. But I know it's not going to go away. We veterans are in a unique place this election cycle. We may well be the swing voters and Mr. Kerry now well understands that the chickens may be coming home to roost. [Read more by this vet at Another Man's Meat.]
I graduated from the Naval Academy in 19[XX] . . . . I volunteered for the PBR's in 19[XX], arrived in country in September and served a year in the delta. My closest friend in Vietnam was killed "near" the Cambodian border at Chau Doc (about a mile inside Vietnam), and I was given his command, River Section [XXX], which I assumed at Chau Doc. Neither he nor his boats, nor those same boats when they became "mine," ever crossed that border. But that is a mere detail. What is more important is that neither I nor any of my many colleagues in the delta ever saw, let alone committed, an atrocity or war crime. I have known John Kerry to be a liar and a fraud for 33 years. I have known him to be embellishing what he did, and exploiting it according to whatever was the current fashionable nuance, for that entire time. There was never a doubt in my mind that he would run for president, and never a doubt that he would base his claim to the office on his boastful, fabulist accounts of his own exploits. I have waited those 33 years for all of this to come to a head, for his very nature to be exposed, and now that it is happening if he thinks I am going to go away he had god damn well better think again.Your piece as published in the Wall Street Journal this morning is the best I have ever read on this subject. He didn't have to ask for this, but he did, and he's going to keep getting it until this thing is done.
I had the privilege of surfing in to your blog this morning and reading your essay "Let it Alone".

It was a very good - very, very good.

Your essay puts my feelings about the whole thing in an almost perfect perspective.

I was in the Navy at the very end of the Vietnam war (1972-79) and was at sea nearby when Saigon fell to the communists in April 1975. I witnessed first-hand the sufferings of the "boat people". Nevertheless, I think it goes without saying that most of us Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans would have been willing to let the entire issue go, with the assumption that George Bush and John Kerry had both served honorably. However, as a member of the US Navy submarine service - a group that played no direct part in the fighting in Vietnam - I consider the constant din of the Democrats' criticism of George Bush's Texas National Guard service as a personal insult to me. If George Bush's service as an ANG fighter pilot was questionable, then what does it say about mine and thousands of others service?
Your comments were thoughtful, articulate, and highly appreciated by a veteran who spent a year and a half in Vietnam. Thank you, sir. You have nailed the cowardly, whining, arrogant, flip-flopping candidate from the Democrat Party.
I appreciate the article in WSJ "Kerry's Lost Opportunity" . . . I was an Air Force pilot in Vietnam in 1970. We could have won the war if it had not been for inept political leadership and anti-war protesters like John Kerry. If "the truce is over" then let's open up the criticism of the Johnson/McNamara policies which prevented us from winning.
It is inevitable that the debate on Vietnam gets reopened from time to time. It is my hope that some resolution comes of it this time.

However, looking at the rancor that lives on as a result of the War Between the States, I don't think resolution will happen soon. Several generations will likely come and go before the passion ebbs completely.

I was in Vietnam for 14 verifiable months on the ground, and I am of several minds about the whole thing in general and Kerry's role in particular.
Thank you--I served in Vietnam Vet from February 1968 to August 1969.
Brilliant analysis! I'm a two-year veteran of Vietnam with a "real" Purple Heart and more decorations than John Kerry could lift and throw. Two points: G.W. Bush earned all of the federal points necessary for an honorable discharge, so there are no "missing months" of service, and because we had air superiority in Vietnam, we did not need the F-102 interceptor which G.W. Bush flew under the operational control of North American Air Defense Command, not the governor of Texas.
Thanks to Mr. Jacobs for the Opinion Journal piece. I am a retired lawyer and . . . a Viet Nam Vet who was in country from 5 Dec 70 to 4 Dec 71. Those dates are seared, seared into my memory because 5 Dec 70 was my 20th birthday. Your" two prong truce " was brilliant. I made a good living explaining criminal defenses to people too stupid to get off jury duty, but I could never dicuss anything about Viet Nam. Thank you very much.
I guess I am a "draft dodger" the way the Democratic Party defines it, since I joined the Air Force ROTC so I could finish my bachelors degree rather than be drafted into the Army. I was commissioned and served 20 years, from 1973 to 1993, but since I didn't spend four months in Vietnam, I am not qualified to voice opinions on military matters, according to Mr. Kerry.

One of the things Mr. Kerry was defending in Vietnam was clearly not the First Amendment. Let me first say, as a Lt. Colonel, that Mr. Kerry's service record in Vietnam would be insufficient to get him promoted to Lt. Commander/Major, let alone to Captain/Colonel. His number of decorations is on a par with thousands of other veterans. His record, even if you take his word for it, was nothing outstanding. Mr. Kerry now claims he can be an effective commander-in-chief. He is either an idiot or a liar. If he has any awareness of how his 1971 criticism of servicemen still fighting or prisoners in Vietnam is perceived by military men and women, he would know that career military members see him as a male Jane Fonda, someone who gave aid and comfort to the enemies trying to kill his fellow Swift boat sailors and every other American in Vietnam.

While officers would obey orders from the commander-in-chief, they would not go out of their way to sacrifice themselves on his behalf. They will be watching for him to stab them in the back, to condemn them as war criminals the way he condemned his Navy buddies, to blame the members of the armed forces for his stupid strategic errors (like announcing an Iraq pullout date!), to tie their hands in dealing with the enemies of America.

Mr. Kerry will get some generals to fawn over him who want promotion and more power, but the rank and file will know he is not to be trusted, because he has never trusted them. If Mr. Kerry hated Presidents Johnson and Nixon, he has some idea of how the troops will think of him.
I am deeply indebted to you for your article appearing in Opinion Journal on August 26, 2004. I came back to the US in May, 1969 after two years in Viet Nam feeling like an alien in my own country. Your piece answers questions I have held in my mind all those years.
Thank you so very much for your piece in the WSJ. Your analysis should be read by every American. I ended my 2 years service in August 1968 convinced (as most people were, by then) that the war in Viet Nam was a mistake and we needed to extricate ourselves at some point, but was absolutely aghast at the treasonous activities of most of my fellow students at UCLA. When a country is at war, the appropriate moral position is "my country, right or wrong!" The practice of aiding and abetting the enemy, so routinely indulged in nowadays by Democrats, is anti-social behavior, and should be punished. We may, indeed, through our speech and our vote, seek to change our country's policies; we may never assist our enemies, particularly when our soldiers are in harm's way. Jane Fonda belonged in jail, and so did John Kerry. Thank you for your tremendous contribution!
I read your WSJ article this morning. BRAVO ZULU!
Thanks vets!

posted by Bathus | 8/28/2004 02:15:00 PM
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Blogger Dean Esmay said...

I must say it was a hell of an essay.

I am NOT a vet, but I have people very important to me in my life who were, and to a man they despise Kerry.

Which is not to say there aren't vets who support him. There obviously are. But the way he's handled this...

I wish Democrats could find a way to get him off the ticket and find another candidate.

12:56 AM, August 29, 2004  
Blogger ALa said...

This is what I try to explain to my friends on the other side of the isle...I think I feel so strongly about this whole SBVFT thing because my dad and uncle were both in Vietnam and grandfather was in WWII and their feelings about that time and him are so visceral. I feel that it would be arrogant of me to disregard the feelings of those who were there and lived through the consequences.

8:55 AM, August 29, 2004  
Blogger ALa said...

This is what I try to explain to my friends on the other side of the aisle...I think I feel so strongly about this whole SBVFT thing because my dad and uncle were both in Vietnam and grandfather was in WWII and their feelings about that time and him are so visceral. I feel that it would be arrogant of me to disregard the feelings of those who were there and lived through the consequences.

8:56 AM, August 29, 2004  
Blogger Phil Dillon, Prairie Apologist said...

To all Veterans
Let's keep the presure on! many in traditional media don't like the impact the Swift Boat Veterans have had and I think they will try to downplay them (and us). Let's keep up the grass roots work, a note on the internet here, a contribution there. Their work, and ours won't be over till November.

5:59 PM, August 29, 2004  

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