Cross-posted at Freedom’s Fire, Brightly Burning.
Recently, the Dem Daily posted on the New York Times report of John Kerry’s continuing fight against the repugnant smear merchants we know as the Swift Liars. One of the smear merchants, Colonel “Bud” Day, responded to the NY Times article in a press release, claiming – falsely, but why should Day begin now to care about truth – that Kerry’s “Vietnam service and medals” were “roundly disputed by virtually all of his former commanding officers and shipmates who were part of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign.” But as Snopes reported back in 2004, here’s the truth about Kerry’s shipmates and commanding officers opinions:
Although the men quoted above are often identified as “John Kerry’s shipmates,” only one of them, Steven Gardner, actually served under Lt. Kerry’s command on a Swift boat. The other men who served under Kerry’s command continue to speak positively of him: …(snip)… Many of Kerry’s Vietnam commanders and fellow officers also continue to speak positively of him:…
Day’s press release is rife with similar distortions upon falsehoods upon blatant lies. I would not even bring it up here except as a reference to report that yet another former POW – a former “Hanoi Hilton” cellmate of some of the Swift Liars, has had enough of these politically motivated smears against a “Vietnam brother” and is going on record with his feelings on the matter. I received the following statement of Commander Phillip Butler, USN (ret.), in my email a couple days ago and was unable to post at the time. Here is the full statement from Commander Butler in response to Day’s attacks on John Kerry – emphasis added:
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Leader’s Renewed Attacks on Kerry “Sicken” Former POW
As a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, I read with great sadness retired Air Force Col. George E. “Bud” Day’s statements in yesterday’s press release from the “Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation,” a group that was formerly known as the infamous “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” They may have changed their name, but they have not changed their tradition of lies and distorted facts.
In the press release, Col. Day resumes the vicious partisan attacks his group honed against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, an attack which our fellow POW, Senator John McCain aptly described as “dishonest and dishonorable.” Day claims that he speaks “for a vast majority of Vietnam veterans who believe he [Kerry] betrayed them 35 years ago” and that “…John Kerry’s deliberate betrayal of his countrymen … alone compelled many POWs and most Vietnam veterans, Swift Boaters included, to stand firm against this poser, this strutting would-be hero and turncoat.”
I was captured on April 20th of 1965 and released on February 12th of 1973, making me the 8the longest-held POW in Vietnam. During one period, November of 1969 till May of 1972, I was incarcerated in a camp we named “Camp Unity,” part of the “Hanoi Hilton,” with hundreds of my fellow POW’s. During this time I shared a 40 man cell with Ken Cordier and in the adjoining cell were Paul Galanti and Jim Warner, all of whom were active in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth negative campaign. Contrary to statements by these men, none of us ever heard about John Kerry’s testimony or statements against the Vietnam War while we were in captivity. I remember. I was there.
The great majority of us were mentally, emotionally and physically tortured by our Vietnamese captors. We often suffered from malnutrition, diseases and isolation. Many of our comrades died in captivity under these conditions. No one who was ever held captive as a POW in Vietnam will ever completely put the experience behind them.
But what sustained all of us during those terrible years was our supportive brotherhood because every POW relied on his brothers for survival. This bond transcended any differences in race, rank or politics. Just before our repatriation in 1973 we formed a fraternal group, “The Fourth Allied POW Wing,” also known as “Nam POWs.” It was to be an apolitical and fraternal organization of those who “returned with honor.”
And it wasn’t until 2004 that the fraternal bond was broken and many former POW’s were stunned and sickened to see a small number of our former cellmates enter the political fray with the negative Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry. Regretfully, many of us remained silent as a multi-million dollar political smear campaign diminished and denigrated Kerry’s service in Vietnam.
Day, Cordier, Galanti and Warner have claimed to speak for most veterans and POW’s. But they only spoke for a small group of ultra right-wing ideologues. In his renewed attacks on Senator Kerry this week, Day recycles the same personal vitriol and falsehoods about Kerry’s “betrayal” of our fellow veterans that his organization trademarked in 2004.
The real truth is John Kerry is a Vietnam Veteran who fought heroically and was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service. But he is also courageous for coming home and telling Americans the truth about the Vietnam War. John Kerry has continues to honorably and selflessly serve his country to this day. And I am proud, as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, as a former Navy Light Attack carrier pilot, as a retired Navy Commander, as a Vietnam veteran and former POW, to call Senator John Kerry a Vietnam brother whom I honor and respect.
Commander Phillip Butler, USN (ret.) was a prisoner of war in Vietnam from 1965 to 1973. He was awarded two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts among other combat decorations.
I applaud Commander Butler for taking a stand. I note that in his statement he doesn’t come close to listing all of Kerry’s medals, which suggests that he is not a close follower of Kerry, or at least is not highly partisan towards him. (Most of Kerry’s partisan fans would be sure to list every award, I think). If I am correct, that makes his statement here even more compelling: he was there with those other men, and attests that their reports are false. His description of the brotherhood created by the hardships and horrors of captivity, and the subsequent betrayal of that brotherhood by these liars for political purposes, is a powerful statement. Thank you, Commander Butler.
For more background, here are a few articles from Ron Chusid’s recent series re-visiting the truth about John Kerry, Vietnam, and the smear hacks:
- Widow of Swift Boat Skipper Defended Kerry (Note all the links in the comments of this entry)
- AP Found Evidence Supported Kerry Against Claims of the Swift Boat Liars
- Boston Globe Found Charges Against Kerry Laughable
- Eye Witness Verified Kerry’s Account of Mission Leading to Silver Star
- Washington Post Reporter Exposed Swift Boat Lies
- FactCheck Exposed Many Examples of Dishonesty in Swift Boat Lies
- Rassmann: Shame on the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush
- Kerry Attacker Retracted Criticism; Agreed Kerry Deserved Silver Star
- Los Angles Times Found Attacks on Kerry to Be False
- Washington Post Review Backed Kerry’s Account of Service
- AP Reported That Kerry Highly Praised in Military Records
- Swift Boat Attacks on Kerry Dismissed As Urban Legends