Thursday, August 19, 2004

OpEd by John O'Neill tells all

John O’Neill, the writer of Unfit For Command and leader of the Swiftboat Vets for Truth, has been writing a 3-part OpEd for the Washington Times that summarizes some of his biggest points of contention with John Kerry’s Vietnam service. One particular section of the article, to me, summarizes things nicely:

Thomas W. Wright, another Swift Boat commander in Coastal Division 11, said Kerry "was not a good combat commander."

Wright said he had such "serious problems" working with Kerry that he finally objected to going on patrol with Kerry. Elliott granted Wright's request that Kerry no longer be assigned to operations under his command.

Wright remembers that Kerry would disappear without warning on multiboat operations. He recalls that Kerry's boat had poor fire discipline and would open fire without prior clearance or apparent reason.

"John Kerry's leadership and operational style were different from mine," Wright said in a written statement in April. "I can see how his crew thought he was a hero, but it seemed like he was a hero fighting out of situations he shouldn't have been in to begin with. I had a lot of trouble getting him to follow orders.

"You had to be right, and you had to have fire discipline. You couldn't blame something on the rules of engagement."

George Bates, another officer in Coastal Division 11, participated in numerous operations with Kerry from January 1969 to March 1969.

In Bates' view, Kerry was a coward who overreacted with deadly force when he felt threatened. Bates, a retired Navy captain, believed that Kerry treated the South Vietnamese in an almost criminal manner.

Bates is haunted by a particular patrol with Kerry on the Song Bo De River in early 1969. With Kerry in the lead, their Swift Boats approached a small hamlet with three to four grass huts. Pigs and chickens were milling around.

As the boats drew closer, the villagers fled. There were no political symbols or flags in evidence. It was obvious to Bates that existing policies, decency and good sense required the boats simply to move on.

Instead, Kerry beached his boat. Upon his command, numerous small animals were slaughtered by heavy-caliber machine guns. Acting more like a pirate than a naval officer, Kerry disembarked and ran around with a Zippo lighter, burning up the entire hamlet.

Bates was appalled by the hypocrisy of Kerry's quick shift to the role of a peace activist condemning war crimes upon his return home. Even today, Bates describes Kerry as a man without a conscience.

Sorry about the length of the selection, but it all fits nicely together. I think this also summarizes why, perhaps, some of the men on his boat seem to think him the hero while most everyone else can see what he really is.

John Kerry won’t tell us much about what he plans to do as president so we have to infer from his past actions how he will be. He apparently doesn’t think things through. He is a knee-jerk leader. He’s doing who-knows-what when he should be taking care of business at hand. And in the end, it’s someone else’s fault when things don’t come out right. That’s definitely who we don’t need as the Commander-in-Chief in the war on terror.

UPDATE: questions Kerry's leadership based on his current reaction to opposition of the swiftboat vets among others.

UPDATE: Captains Quarters criticizes Brinkley for not being the historian he claims to be in regards to the Kerry Vietnam story.

UPDATE: Powerline posts Kerry's defiance of the Swiftboat Vets' story and calls for a debate between him and Bush. Now let me get this straight. John O'Neill challenges his record so he calls for a debate with Bush about it? Weird.