Friday, August 27, 2004

Admiral Schachte Disputes Kerry's First Purple Heart

Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr., who had declined to be involved in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth controversy said in his first on the record interview that he was, in fact, in the skimmer on the mission when John Kerry received his first Purple Heart, and he disputes John Kerry's version of that story. The Admiral had declined to be involved with the group, Swift Boat veterans for Truth, but decided to break his silence after seeing Lanny Davis, Democratic spinmeister, question his truthfulness on CNN's Crossfire:

"I was astonished by Kerry's version" [in his book Tour of Duty] of what happened Dec. 2, Schachte said Thursday. When asked to support the Kerry critics in the swift boat controversy, Schachte said, "I didn't want to get involved." But he said he gradually began to change his mind when he saw his own involvement and credibility challenged, starting with Davis on CNN's "Crossfire" on Aug. 12.

Democrats, including Lanny Davis, James Carville and John Kerry have insisted that Schachte was not on the skimmer the night that Kerry received the injury that garnered him his first Purple Heart. In fact, John Kerry produced two enlisted men for the Democratic Convention who said they were in the skimmer with him. These men, Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis, claim that they were the onlt people in the skimmer with Kerry. However, Robert Novak took it upon himself to call other officers who would know who was aboard the small boat that night. They both stated that Kerry would not have gone on that mission, which was his first combat mission, without Schacte, and that Schacte was, in fact, the originator of the technique of using the small whalers to lure the enemy from the banks:

Grant Hibbard, who as a lieutenant commander was Schachte's superior officer, confirmed that Schachte always went on these skimmer missions and said, "I don't think he [Kerry] was alone" on his first assignment. Hibbard said he had told Kerry to "forget it" when he asked for a Purple Heart.
Ted Peck, another swift boat commander, said, "I remember Bill [Schachte] telling me it didn't happen" -- that is, Kerry getting an enemy-inflicted wound. He said it would be "impossible" for Kerry to have been in the skimmer without Schachte

Rear Admiral Schacte contends that Kerry "nicked himself" with a grenade launcher, then requested his first Purple Heart:

"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 [grenade launcher]," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart.

Schachte described the use of the skimmer operating very close to shore as a technique that he personally designed to flush enemy forces on the banks of the Mekong River so that the larger swift boats could move in. Around 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer -- code-named "Batman" -- fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and, "I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," he said.

Grant Hibbard, who as a lieutenant commander was Schachte's superior officer, confirmed that Schachte always went on these skimmer missions and said, "I don't think he [Kerry] was alone" on his first assignment. Hibbard said he had told Kerry to "forget it" when he asked for a Purple Heart

This is devastating for the Kerry Campaign. Will they go on public TV and call this retired Rear Admiral a liar or a schill? Will they try to tie him to the Bush Campaign? How will Lanny Davis and James Carville, the men who Kerry let so casually malign the Admiral on national TV, respond to this? How will they spin to defend Kerry?

If John Kerry is forced to admit this is true how will he explain the two men he presented at the DNC? His campaign and his lapdogs in the press have maintained that none of the people disputing Kerry's Vietnam War claims ever actually served on his boat. That is categorically false, as evidenced by the new Swift Boat Veterans ad, and now a retired Admiral has come forth to say that he was on the boat with Kerry for his for his first Purple Heart, and that Kerry has been dishonest about it. If Kerry does retract his version of the story it will be the second claim made by Kerry, disputed by the Swiftees that Kerry has had to retract. Will the press ever start to question Kerry's trustworthiness? Will Chris Matthews bring Lanny Davis on his show and berate him as he did John O'Neill? Of course not, Democrats make a living from ignoring and distorting reality.

There is a larger question however. John Kerry served only four months in Vietnam. Now he has based his entire campaign on those four months. He left his "band of brothers" behind and returned home only to slander them in front of the senate and in anti-war rallies across the country. Kerry was only allowed to leave because he had gotten three Purple Hearts. Now it seems that at least one of the Purple Hearts was, quite frankly, bogus. How will the veterans of the war who completed multiple full tours respond to Kerry after this? They stayed behind, risked life and limb to serve one or more tours, yet a man running for President skirted the system so he could go home.

There is rumor that Kerry will try to go on national television to issue some sort of apology for slandering the troops 35 years ago (although he stood by his statements earlier this year when they were not political liabilities). The apology would not have been warmly received before the statement by the Admiral, as veterans would see it for what it is - political opportunism. But how can he do it now, with the discovery that he received at least one bogus Purple Heart, used it to get out of Vietnam and lied about it for 35 years?

The press will do all they can to bury this story. The Democrats will spin and attack the Admiral because to a Democrat no one is beyond character assassination for political gain. But Kerry will have to respond to the Admiral. What will he say? What he always says: My name is John Kerry, and I served in Vietnam! One thing today, something else tomorrow.

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.