Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation: Veterans Sue Kerry Associates

PHILADELPHIA, Oct 10, 2006 -- The ongoing battle over the truth of alleged war crimes and atrocities committed by Americans in the Vietnam War moves to a Philadelphia courtroom this week.

An action filed in Philadelphia's Common Pleas Court today by a group of highly decorated veterans and POWs may finally hold Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and his allies accountable for the allegations they have propagated over the past 35 years.

The suit was filed on behalf of Carlton A. Sherwood, a Pulitzer Prize- winning reporter, and the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation (VVLF), an organization of highly decorated Vietnam Veterans and POWs created to educate the public about the Vietnam War and the men and women who sacrificed to serve their country. The suit was filed against Kenneth J. Campbell and Jon Bjornson, two associates and aides of Kerry's during the 2004 presidential campaign, both of whom are Vietnam Veterans and longtime anti-war activists.

The suit seeks to recover legal fees and other costs associated with Sherwood and the VVLF's defense against legal actions brought by Kerry's associates. Those actions claimed that "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," a film documenting the impact of John Kerry's allegations against POWs, defamed them by challenging their assertions and those of John Kerry that they personally committed or witnessed other U.S. Servicemen engage in war crimes. Those actions were suddenly withdrawn this summer.

During the 2004 campaign, top Kerry campaign officials circulated memos seeking to silence the film and used the Campbell and Bjornson lawsuit as a threat against at least one Philadelphia-area theater to not show the film. That theater ended up canceling the showing just before it was to be viewed. At the time the suit was withdrawn, The Legal Intelligencer (July 13, 2006) reported that the lawyer for Kerry's associates had said that bringing the suit had accomplished their goals of gaining publicity and stopping the film from being shown.

The suits by Kerry's associates were suddenly dropped earlier this year just as they and several of their allies faced depositions under oath and subpoenas of their military records.

"It was a frivolous lawsuit," said VVLF Chairman Colonel George E. "Bud" Day, a former POW and Medal of Honor recipient and a practicing attorney. "It was an abuse of the legal process and we intend to prove it. Our justice system is based on the truth and we never got an opportunity to hear the truth because they quickly pulled the plug on their lawsuit just as the facts were about to be exposed. Yet they forced us to spend tens of thousands of dollars to defend against a lawsuit they knew was bogus," said Colonel Day.

The countersuit by the veterans of the VVLF and Sherwood will give the opportunity to prove that the original action by Kerry associates Campbell and Bjornson was frivolous and expose another layer of truth about what really happened in Vietnam.