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[Author’s note: This article, as well as those that appear below about Kerry’s medals, was written before he received his party’s nomination for president, and before publication of Unfit for Command, a book which thoroughly discredited the senator’s claimed entitlement to all of his medals.]

Senator John Forbes Kerry, Navy veteran and candidate for the democrat party nomination for President of the United States, has for years played the “war hero” card.


As the story goes, for his heroic service in wartime Vietnam Kerry was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three purple hearts.


However, for all those years, and especially now, questions have been raised and doubts have surfaced about the legitimacy of some of those awards.  Few people know the truth, preeminently Senator Kerry—but he’s not talking. 


This is not to say—and I am certainly not saying!—that Kerry did not deserve his medals.  I am saying that because of Kerry’s character, associations, conduct and silence, there is a legitimate question as to whether he is the Vietnam War hero he claims to be—a question only Kerry can answer.  Thus far, it has gone unanswered.


A Silver Star is awarded for “gallantry,” for conduct not warranting the next highest award, a Navy Cross—nor the highest, the Medal of Honor.  A Bronze Star, next on the list just under the Silver Star can be awarded for either “heroic or meritorious achievement or service.”  (A Bronze Star with an accompanying “V” [for valor] is awarded for heroism, while one without can be for running a great mess hall.)  The Purple Heart requires “a wound . . . which . . . must have required treatment by a medical officer.”


None of these awards are easy to come by—particularly the Silver Star—so let’s focus on that one.


Why have questions been raised about Senator Kerry’s Silver Star?


First, because he, himself, not only is a liar, but because one of his worst lies involved the Vietnam War. 


At pages 135-136 of Stolen Valor (Burkett and Whitley, Verity Press, 1998), the authors reveal that in April 1971, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) held a demonstration in Washington, D.C. called Dewey Canyon III.  Kerry was an organizer and leader.  According to Burkett and Whitley, “Kerry flung a handful of medals—he had received the Silver Star, a Bronze Star Medal, and three purple hearts—over the fence [of the Capitol]. * * * But years later, after his election to the Senate, Kerry’s medals turned up on the wall of his Capitol Hill office.  When a reporter noticed them, Kerry admitted that the medals he had thrown that day were not his.”  (Burkett and Whitley source this statement with: “Phil Duncan, editor, ‘Congressional Quarterly’s Politics in America,’ 102d Congress, 1992, p. 678”).  If Kerry lied, for political purposes, about eschewing his medals, it raises the distinct possibility that he (or someone on his behalf) lied either about his receiving them or about exactly what he received them for.


Second, Kerry was a founder of VVAW.  His organization had its hand in at least two contrived events of consummately false anti-American, pro-Communist propaganda. 


The first, early in 1971 was known as the “Winter Soldier Investigation.”  Featuring the likes of Hanoi Jane Fonda, her lover Donald Sutherland, activist Dick Gregory, and other assorted luminaries of the left, the “investigation” paraded alleged Vietnam veterans who told atrocity stories that had been literally lifted from Hollywood movies and the screeds of Communist propagandists.  Most of those who “testified” were Fake Warriors, their “testimony” consisting largely of lies about the war and about their roles, if any, in it.


The second event was Dewey Canyon III, referred to above.  There, reflecting the contrary-to-fact movie stereotype of the physically and mentally damaged Vietnam vet, the demonstrators put on what Burkett and Whitley correctly characterized as “political theater.”  Again, many participants were Fake Warriors, whose sole purpose was to discredit the United States and elevate the Vietnamese Communist cause to indigenous “nobility.”  Kerry’s central role in founding the organization that engineered these two palpably phony events, and his participation in and association with those who had provably lied about the Vietnam war and their alleged military service in it, casts doubt about any other claims he has made about his own military service.


Third, there is some dispute about the event which was the basis for Kerry’s Silver Star.

One published account reports that his river patrol boat came under fire from the bank and returned fire.  As the craft approached the shore, a wounded Viet Cong was observed running away.  Kerry is supposed to have chased him, and both disappeared from sight.  Shots were heard.  Kerry jumped aboard and claimed that there had been a firefight.  Result: one Silver Star.


If this published report is true, there were no witnesses to the action—yet two witnesses are required for a Silver Star recommendation.  As Burkett and Whitley have written: “Silver Stars are awarded only for actions in combat; most of those who receive a Silver Star suffer wounds in the process.  Receiving a Silver Star requires witnesses and significant substantiation of valor.”  The authors of Stolen Valor continue:


How a soldier, sailor, or Marine receives a valorous medal essentially hasn’t changed since the Civil War.  One way is from the bottom up.  For example, a soldier is with a platoon in the field [or on a river boat].  The North Vietnamese [or Viet Cong] start pouring over his platoon’s perimeter [or firing from the shore].  He’s screaming orders, dragging wounded, saving people [chasing a wounded VC into the jungle]—being your basic hero.


The next day, and “after-action” report by his commander will describe the soldier’s bravery.  The other men who saw the events will be motivated to nominate the hero for recognition.  The recommendation goes up the chain of command and is either approved or denied.


The “top-down” process occurs when higher-ups—the company or battalion commander nominate him.  Aware that something heroic

has happened, his superiors interview witnesses and nominate the

soldier, sailor, or airman for a medal.  The system is open to a certain

amount of back scratching.  Say a platoon [or river boat] fights a battle.  People fight; some die.  The platoon leader [or boat commander] wants a Silver Star, and he lets the platoon sergeant [or seaman] know that the way the sergeant [or seaman] can earn his own Bronze Star Medal is to authenticate his superior’s heroism.  Except for outright fabrication, this is usually not an official cause of concern.  Whatever the medal, there has to be a recommendation by the command authority and supporting evidence.  The higher the decoration [the Silver Star is the third highest], the more stringent the requirements for supporting documentation.  (Emphasis added.)


When awards like the Silver Star are ordered (there is an actual “order” issued), a “citation” is also issued describing the conduct that is the basis for the medal.  This completes the paper trail


To sum up: As to Senator Kerry’s conduct, there should be reports of the engagement; there should be chain-of-command recommendation; there should be an order directing the award of the medal; and there should be a citation describing his “gallantry.”


Where are these crucial, corroborating documents?  Why has Kerry not released them?  And while we’re asking questions in this, an election year, it would be interesting to know whether anyone else on that river boat was awarded a medal—and, if so, who recommended it.


Let me restate the obvious: He who would be President of the United States is morally required—in fealty to those who hold Medals of Honor, service Crosses, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars for valor, and Purple Hearts—to put on the table the documentation that supports his claim to be a war hero.


If he is one, no one will applaud louder than I.  If he is not, all Americans—regardless of party—deserve to know the truth.  One way to learn the truth is for every one of us with a conscience to demand that truth from Senator John Forbes Kerry—and right now!