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XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX SUN AUG 08, 2004 19:04:35 ET XXXXX
SWIFT OFFICERS AND VETS: KERRY LIED ABOUT SPENDING CHRISTMAS IN CAMBODIA
Since the early 1970s, Kerry has spoken and written of how he was illegally ordered to enter Cambodia. Kerry mentioned it in the floor of the Senate in 1986 when he charged that President Reagan’s actions in Central America were leading the U.S. in another Vietnam. Here’s what he said as excerpted from the new book, UNFIT FOR COMMAND:
I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared--seared--in me.
DRUDGE has learned from the accounts of Swift Boat officers and Kerry’s crewmembers that Kerry was never in Cambodia. UNFIT FOR COMMAND authors charge that Kerry made it all up.
“Despite the dramatic memories of his Christmas in Cambodia, Kerry’s statements are complete lies,” according to John O’Neil, co-author and the Swift Boat commander who took over Kerry’s boat. “Kerry was never in Cambodia during Christmas 1968, or at all during the Vietnam War. . . . he was more than fifty miles away from Cambodia.”
Kerry was stationed at Coastal Division 13 in Cat Lo. Coastal Division 13’s patrol areas extended to Sa Dec, about 55 miles from the Cambodian border. . . . Tom Anderson, Commander of River Division 531, who was in charge of PBRs (small river patrol crafts] confirmed that there were no Swifts anywhere in the area and they would have been stopped had they appeared.
All the living commanders in Kerry’s chain of command . . . deny that Kerry was ever ordered to Cambodia. They indicate that Kerry would have been seriously disciplined or court-martialed had he gone there. At least three of the five crewmen on Kerry’s boat, Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch, and Steve Gardner, deny that they or their boat were ever in Cambodia.
O’Neill observed that the Cambodia incursion story is not included in Tour of Duty (Kerry’s recent biography). Instead, Kerry replaced the story with a report about a mortar attack that occurred on Christmas Eve 1968 “near the Cambodian border” in a town called Sa Dec and Christmas day was spent at the base writing entries in his journal.
After conducting interviews and research, authors of Unfit for Command conclude, “The truth is that Kerry made up his secret mission into Cambodia.... the lie about the illegal Cambodian incursion painted his superiors up the chain of command. . . . as villains faced down by John Kerry, a solitary hero in grave and exotic danger and forced illegally against his will into harm’s way.”
Filed By Matt Drudge
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