Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rachel Maddow and John Kerry

Rachel Maddow, the other night, wondered why the "right" attacks "war hero" John Kerry but no one has similar, harsh things to say about John McCain. Why does McCain get a pass but Kerry doesn’t?

I thought about this briefly and came up with multiple answers but before I get to that, let me say that I too, am a Vietnam Vet. I flew helicopters and received the standard medals that go with that mission. I can claim to be a combat decorated veteran with but a single tour in Vietnam and a single tour in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

John Kerry, on the other hand, claims two tours in Vietnam but spent little more than fourteen or fifteen weeks there. His first "tour" was on a deep water Navy ship and it is possible that he never set foot on South Vietnamese soil while on that mission. Please remember I said possible... it is also possible that he went ashore for a period of hours. I was on Vietnamese soil for the full year I was there, living without air conditioning, often without electricity, and flying missions into hostile territory almost daily.

John Kerry, on his second tour, spent three month on river boats, a fairly dangerous mission where he claims to have been wounded three times. He used this to get himself out of Vietnam. I confess that had the opportunity presented itself, I probably would have done it too.

But the wounds were minor and when I hit an anti-tank mine with a helicopter, causing a slight concussion and ringing in my ears, I received no recognition, other than being the only helicopter pilot to hit an anti-tank mine with a helicopter.

Kerry came home early, got discharged from active duty early, on the condition that he would attend reserve meetings, but never did. Instead he embarked on a political career in which he condemned those of us who served as "baby killers," who committed atrocities at every opportunity, who were out of control, and who made Genghis Khan look tame. He used these allegations as a springboard for his political ambitions.

He was an organizer and participant in the now discredited Winter Soldier extravaganza in which soldiers confessed their sins and atrocities for the world to hear. Made no difference that some of those "soldiers" had never engaged in combat, never made it to Vietnam or were never in the Army. Their list of sins was cataloged and published without any attempt to verify their credentials or the events they claimed they participated in.

Kerry, of course, threw his medals away at one of the public demonstrations because, in the early 1970s, it was only idiots like me who were proud of their service. Oh, we never really mentioned it because, as Hollywood had noted, the quickest way to identify a villain in that era was to make him a Vietnam vet. Now, it’s to make him a corporate executive.

I learned this one day at work when it was somehow brought up that I had served in Vietnam. One of my co-workers said, "But you seem so normal..."

Anyway, Kerry’s medals eventually surfaced, on the wall of his senate office because it became a symbol to be a Vietnam vet. In fact, so many now thought of it as something to be proud of that during the 1990 census, when one of the questions was if you had served in Vietnam 13 million said yes... that’s out of the 2 – 3 million who actually did.

Then, as we watched Kerry accept the Democratic nomination for president, he strode to the podium, snapped off a salute and said, "Reporting for duty." Now a proud Vietnam veteran who had forgotten all the atrocities he had cataloged twenty-five years earlier, all the disgrace he had heaped on his fellow veterans by underscoring the myth that we were all a bunch of crazed killers who shot up villages for the fun of it and gunned down innocents at every opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, these things did happen rarely and it made the life of all us that much more difficult, but certainly not with the regularity that Kerry would have had you believe...

And today, still in the Senate, with no higher political aspirations at the moment, Kerry again maligns the service of the service members in Iraq and Afghanistan suggesting they are under educated teenagers who can’t find a real job...

Since I was deployed with a National Guard unit, I knew that wasn’t true. We had one Ph.D. with us, a large number of men and women with master degrees, and a larger number of college graduates. We skewed older than the active forces but we did have some teenagers in our ranks and as in Vietnam, I saw our soldiers commit no atrocities but did see them repair schools, donate time to help Iraqi citizens at nearly every turn, and do much to help stabilize the country... without either Kerry nor the news media aware of all the good things we did.

So, Ms. Maddow, the reason Kerry is attacked is his hypocrisy about his war record, his condemnation of this fellow veterans when it is expedient for him to do so, his attempts to paint us as uneducated, wanton killers, and then his attempt to run on his combat record.

John McCain might be a lot of things, but he is not this blatantly two-faced about his military service. You might not like McCain’s politics, but he doesn’t attempt to claim political office on the backs of his fellow veterans.

And now you know why Kerry is not respected by very many veterans...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

George Bush's Lowest Moment

So George Bush’s lowest moment was when some hip hop guy (and yes, I leave his name out on purpose because it seems to suggest something about the importance of the statement) said that Bush didn’t care about black people. Not when Muslims (who were obviously extremists, as if it is necessary to qualify the statement) flew airplanes into buildings. Not when he learned that soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen had been killed in combat. Not when the wars continued and more American service members were killed or wounded.


When some guy suggested that he didn’t care about black people.

When Bush said that major combat operations had ended, I was on active duty with the Army.

When Bush leaned on his podium, looked into the camera and asked our enemies in Iraq to "bring it on," I was standing in our Tactical Operations Center (TOC) in Baghdad... not overly thrilled with Bush daring them to attack us.

When Bush talked of sacrifice, I was in Iraq while he was in Washington, D.C., living in a mansion, eating three good meals a day, and not worrying about an enemy dropping a mortar on him or shooting him or blowing up his Humvee with a bomb.

But his lowest moment was when some guy said that Bush didn’t care about black people.

Geez, how detached can you get? Maybe I should have said something about how I missed the last family Christmas because I was in Iraq and my mother-in-law, who hosted them, died the September following my return.

Maybe I should have said something about how that 14 months on active duty wrecked what was left of my writing career. Nope, no one has called and suggested they would pay really big money for my memoirs. Instead I have to scratch around and try to convince a publisher to pay peanuts for my books (one of which is now a Kindle Book because no one else would pay for it).

Well, George, I’m sorry that Kanye West said you didn’t care about black people. How about this? I’m not so sure you care about the service members you sent In Harm’s Way. Think about that.