John Kerry’s First Purple Heart

One very strong charge that the Swift Boat Vets for Truth have made that the mainstream media has for the most part refused to follow-up on, is how John Kerry got his first Purple Heart.

This is no small matter, not only because the SBVFT are accusing Kerry of fraudulently attaining his Purple Heart, but because having three Purple Hearts enabled John Kerry to get out of Vietnam almost a year early. Here’s how the Swift Boat Vets tell the tale…

From a Robert Novak column based on what retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte had to say about John Kerry’s first Purple Heart…

“Schachte described the use of the skimmer operating very close to shore as a technique that he personally designed to flush enemy forces on the banks of Mekong River so that the larger Swift boats could move in. At about 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer – code-named “Batman” – fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry’s M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and “I heard a ’thunk.’ There was no fire from the enemy,” he said.

….Ted Peck, another Swift boat commander, said, “I remember Bill (Schachte) telling me it didn’t happen” – that is, Kerry getting an enemy-inflicted wound. He said it would be “impossible” for Kerry to have been in the skimmer without Schachte.

….The next time he saw Kerry after the first Purple Heart incident, Schachte said, was “about 20 years” later on the U.S. Senate subway in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. “I called, ’Hey, John.’ He replied, ‘Batman.’ I was absolutely amazed by his memory.” He said they “talked about having lunch” but never did.”

Here’s what the man who treated Kerry’s wound, Louis Letson, had to say about the wound Kerry had,

“The story (Kerry) told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight, receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that his injury resulted from this enemy action.

Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.

That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.

What I saw was a small piece of metal sticking very superficially in the skin of Kerry’s arm. The metal fragment measured about 1 cm. in length and was about 2 or 3 mm in diameter. It certainly did not look like a round from a rifle.

I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.

The wound was covered with a bandaid.

Not [sic] other injuries were reported and I do not recall that there was any reported damage to the boat.”

Now, here’s an account from John Kerry’s commander at the time, Grant Hibbard, who tells what happened when Kerry asked him for a Purple Heart…

“Kerry said he was wearing night goggles, that he had his weapon, that they threw up a flare, saw enemy movement and opened fire,” Meehan said. “He said he was wounded in the confrontation but it was impossible to tell which direction the enemy fire came from because it was totally dark.”

Hibbard questioned descriptions of the encounter as a firefight.

“The reports I got back the next morning from crew members was that they received no enemy fire,” Hibbard said.

Hibbard, who was 34 at the time, said crew members reported they had spotted the Viet Cong fleeing on the beach and that Kerry fired a M-79, a small grenade launcher that struck some nearby rocks. Hibbard said Kerry was likely struck by a piece of shrapnel from the grenade.

The next day, Hibbard said Kerry approached him and said he had been wounded in combat and showed him a piece of shrapnel the thickness of a pencil lead that was less than a half-inch long.

“I described it as a fingernail scratch,” Hibbard said. “He later received a Purple Heart for that scratch, but I have no information of how or from whom.”

Here’s more from the SBVFT,

“All normal documentation supporting a Purple Heart is missing,” the letter says. “There is absolutely no casualty report (i.e., spot report) or hostile fire report or after-action report in the Navy’s files to support this ‘Purple Heart’ because there was no casualty, hostile fire, or action on which to report. The sole document relied upon by Kerry is a record showing the band aid and tweezers treatment by Dr. Letson recorded by deceased corpsman, Jess Carreon.”

Folks, the mainstream media should be all over this. Just consider the OBVIOUS questions that John Kerry has not been asked to answer about this just ONE EVENT…

— Was William L. Schachte with you at the time you received your first Purple Heart?

— Did you ever go on a mission with William L. Schachte?

— Did the ‘Batman’ meeting described by Schachte in the Russell Senate Office Building take place?

— Can you provide a quote from someone other than John Kerry who can verify that he was under fire during this incident?

— Can you explain why your own biography says the following 9 days after you received your first Purple Heart?

“They pulled away from the pier at Cat Lo with spirits high, feeling satisfied with the way things were going for them. They had no lust for battle, but they also were not afraid. Kerry wrote in his notebook, ‘A cocky feeling 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.”

— Did Louis Letson examine your injury and did he in fact use a band-aid to treat your ‘wound’?

— Your commander at the time, Grant Hibbard says he turned you down for a Purple Heart. Is that true and can you elaborate on the meeting you had with him?

— Will you allow the military to release your medical records so we independently verify the severity of your injuries?

— Can you explain why there was no casualty report (i.e., spot report), hostile fire report, & after-action report or produce them?

— Who actually approved your First Purple Heart and how did that come to pass after you were originally turned down?

If the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are what the Kerry campaign and his defenders in the mainstream media claim they are, nothing but a bunch of liars engaged in a ‘Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’, then John Kerry should have no problem giving plausible answers to the questions mentioned above and putting this issue to rest once and for all.


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