Kerry took no enemy fire for medal


Well-known member
Nov 30, 2001
Reaction score
Received Purple Heart for 'scratch' despite initial rejection

Posted: August 6, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2004

Authors of a new book criticizing John Kerry's service in Vietnam write the Democrat took no enemy fire on the night he sustained a slight injury for which he received a Purple Heart, an injury he caused himself by firing a grenade launcher at too close a range.

In "Unfit for Command," scheduled for release Aug. 15, John O'Neill, who took over Kerry's swift-boat command, and co-author Jerome Corsi explain the scratch was caused by Kerry's firing an M-79 grenade launcher too close, "causing a tiny piece of shrapnel (one to two centimeters) to barely stick in his arm."

They further write that initial requests by Kerry to receive a Purple Heart for the wound were flatly rejected.

The incident occurred when Kerry and two other men took a "Boston whaler" skimmer – not a swift boat – on a patrol in December 1968, as Kerry described it, near "the shore off a Viet Cong-infested peninsula north of Cam Ranh."

In "Tour of Duty," author Douglas Brinkley quotes Kerry as saying he and his comrades were "scared s---less" that night, thinking fishermen in sampans might be Viet Cong.

When some of the sampan occupants began unloading something on the beach, Kerry lit a flare, causing the startled men on shore to run for cover. That's when Kerry says he and the other Americans began firing.

Said Kerry in "Tour of Duty":

My M-16 jammed, and as I bent down in the boat to grab another gun, a stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell. By this time one of the sailors had started the engine and we ran by the beach, strafing it. Then it was quiet.
O'Neill and Corsi, however, claim there is no evidence whatsoever Kerry took any enemy fire that night.

Patrick Runyon was operating the engine on the Boston whaler during the incident.

"I can't say for sure that we got return fire or how [Kerry] got nicked," Runyon is quoted as saying in "Unfit for Command." "I couldn't say one way or the other. I know he did get nicked, a scrape on the arm."

Wrote O'Neill: "In a separate conversation, Runyon related that he never knew Kerry was wounded. So even in the [Boston] Globe biography accounting, it was not clear that there was any enemy fire, just a question about how Kerry might have been hit with shrapnel."

The Boston Globe, the authors note, asked the Kerry campaign for information about enemy fire, but was provided only written statement saying the Navy thought the incident deserved a Purple Heart.

According to the blockbuster book, "After Kerry's M-16 jammed, Kerry picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and fired a grenade too close, causing a tiny piece of shrapnel (one to two centimeters) to barely stick in his arm. [Lt. William] Schachte berated Kerry for almost putting someone's eye out. There was no hostile fire of any kind, nor did Kerry on the way back mention to PCF OinC Mike Voss, who commanded the PCF that had towed the skimmer, that he was wounded. There was no report of any hostile fire that day (as would be required), nor do the records at Cam Ranh Bay reveal any such hostile fire. No other records reflect any hostile fire. There is also no casualty report, as would have been required had there actually been a casualty."

As WorldNetDaily has reported, the piece of shrapnel was removed from Kerry's arm and a Band-Aid was put on the wound.

O'Neill interviewed Cmdr. Grant Hibbard, with whom Kerry initially applied for the Purple Heart:

Q: When did you first meet John Kerry?
GH: Kerry reported to my division in November 1968. I didn't know him from Adam.

Q: Can you describe the mission in which Kerry got his first Purple Heart?

GH: Kerry requested permission to go on a skimmer operation with Lieutenant Schachte, my most senior and trusted lieutenant, using a Boston whaler to try to interdict a Viet Cong movement of arms and munitions. The next morning at the briefing, I was informed that no enemy fire had been received on that mission. Our units had fired on some VC units running on the beach. We were all in my office, some of the crew members, I remember Schachte being there.

This was 36 years ago; it really didn't seem all that important at the time. Here was this lieutenant, junior grade, who was saying "I got wounded," and everybody else, the crew that were present were saying, "We didn't get any fire. We don't know how he got the scratch." Kerry showed me the scratch on his arm. I hadn't been informed that he had any medical treatment. The scratch didn't look like much to me; I've seen worse injuries from a rose thorn.

Q: Did Kerry want you to recommend him for a Purple Heart?

GH: Yes, that was his whole point. He had this little piece of shrapnel in his hand. It was tiny. I was told later that Kerry had fired an M-79 grenade and that he had misjudged it. He fired it too close to the shore, and it exploded on a rock or something. He got hit by a piece of shrapnel from a grenade that he had fired himself. The injury was self-inflicted, that's what made sense to me. I told Kerry to "forget it." There was no hostile fire, the injury was self-inflicted for all I knew, besides it was nothing really more than a scratch. Kerry wasn't getting any Purple Heart recommendation from me.

Q: How did Kerry get a Purple Heart from the incident then?

GH: I don't know. It beats me. I know I didn't recommend him for a Purple Heart. Kerry probably wrote up the paperwork and recommended himself, that's all I can figure out. If it ever came across my desk, I don't have any recollection of it. Kerry didn't get my signature. I said "no way" and told him to get out of my office.

Concludes O'Neill: "Amazingly, Kerry somehow 'gamed the system' nearly three months later to obtain the Purple Heart that Hibbard had denied. How he obtained the award is unknown, since his refusal to execute Standard Form 180 means that whatever documents exist are known only to Kerry, the Department of Defense and God. It is clear that there should be numerous other documents, but only a treatment record reflecting a scratch and a certificate signed three months later have been produced."

"Unfit for Command" mentions how most military personnel view the Purple Heart as an honor fit only for those more severely injured. It quotes veteran Gary Townsend, who said, "I … turned down a Purple Heart award (which required seven stitches) offered to me while in Nam because I thought a little cut was insignificant as to what others had suffered to get theirs."

"To cheat by getting a Purple Heart from a self-inflicted wound would be regarded as befitting the lowest levels of military conduct," write the authors of "Unfit for Command." "To use such a faked award to leave a combat sector early would be lower yet. Finally, to make or use faked awards as the basis for running for president of the United States, while faulting one's political opponents for not having similar military decorations, would represent unbelievable hypocrisy and the truly bottom rung of human conduct. Anyone engaging in such conduct would be unfit for even the lowest rank in the Navy, to say nothing of the commander in chief."

As WorldNetDaily reported, a blistering new TV commercial produced by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth quotes Kerry's Vietnam comrades calling him a liar, questioning his honor, accusing him of misrepresenting his actions for medals and attacking his character.

Latest Posts

Top Bottom