John E. Cleckner Sr.
Thursday, before going to the CRP convention, I heard the replay of Roger
Hedgecock's lengthy interview with a gunners mate Swiftie sailor; that
interview was most damning to Kerry. Sunday, upon my return to Sacramento,
my email inbox, always crowded, contained documents where the attorneys for
the Kerry campaign had written tv stations, demanding a moratorium on the
running of the Swift Boat Sailors for Truth TV ad spot. The message below
, in my view, represents the most articulate and confirmed overview, with
corroboration, that I have seen yet on these matters. The Texas law firm, in
rebuttal of the DNC attorney's demand, has issued the document.
Fascinating material in the lengthy read, but please be advised, AGAIN, that
when speaking in a representative capacity for the President or the
campaign, that Kerry's Vietnam activities, or lack thereof, are not a
subject of discussion. Anything happening after Kerry took off the
uniform is fair game.
This material below, by now, will have probably circulated in wildfire mode
around the entire Veteran's net.
William F. Stein Esq, State Chairman
California Republican Veterans of America
Chairman, Veterans Committee, California Republican Party
Chairman, California Veterans for Bush/Cheney 2004
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, August 07, 2004 11:57 AM
Subject: Lawyer's brief on Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans
This very important email was forwarded by "Lancer" Sullivan. It is vitally
important that everyone read this account all the way through. There will
be no unanswered questions after reading the details below. I regret that
there may be duplicate addresses.
From: Mike Sullivan [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Saturday, August
07, 2004 11:00 AM
If there is anyone who thinks that the questions that are currently being
raised in that "Swiftvet" political advertisement you've seen on TV
concerning John Kerry's war record in Vietnam are untrue and just a
"political" trick, then they should take the time to read all the way
through this e-mail.
Please recognize that none of these Navy swift boat sailors needs to lie
about those 3 purple heart incidents, or the nature of Kerry's wounds (he
still refuses to release his medical records), or the circumstances
surrounding his medals. The fact that none of them wrote themselves up for,
or received, any medals for picking up the other survivors of the disabled
swift boat (PCF 3) speaks volumes. We all heard Kerry's side of the story
at the convention in Boston. For those who want to hear the other side of
the story, I suggest that you read on----
From: "Henry Mark Holzer" <firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, August 07, 2004 12:25 AM Subject:
Lawyer's brief Since this is, at least for the moment, a newsletter devoted
to the subject of Fake Warriors, see below.
(Thanks to those of you who sent me the democrat lawyers' letter to the TV
station. I am now writing about it.)
Clements, O'Neill, Pierce, Wilson & Fulkerson A Registered Limited Liability
Partnership Attorneys At Law Wells Fargo Plaza
1000 Louisiana Street, Suite 1800 Houston, Texas 77002-5009
(713) 654-7600 Facsimile (713) 654-7690
John E. O'Neill
Partner (713) 6547604
August 2, 2004
Dear Station Manager:
Background The purpose of this letter is to present some of the factual
support for the advertisement "Any Questions?" produced and used by Swift
Boat Veterans For Truth ("Swiftvets"), an organization properly registered
under Internal Revenue Code § 527, and which has filed all required reports.
Swiftvets is an organization led by Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann, USN
(retired), Commander of all Swift boats in Vietnam during the period of John
Kerry's four-month abbreviated tour in Swift boats between late November
1968 and mid-March 1969.
A list of the 254 members may be found on
. A large
majority of those who served with John Kerry in Swift boats in Vietnam and
whose location is known have joined the organization. Thus, for example,
sixteen of the twenty-three surviving officers who served in Coastal
Division 11 with Kerry (the place where Kerry spent most of his time) have
joined the organization, together with most of Kerry's Vietnam commanders
and 254 sailors from Coastal Squadron One, ranging from Vice-Admirals to
The purpose of Swiftvets is to present the truth about John Kerry's
post-Vietnam charges of war crimes and John Kerry's own Vietnam record.
Swiftvets is uniquely positioned to do so since it includes most of the
locatable sailors and officers who served with John Kerry in Vietnam.
John Kerry has made his Vietnam record the central focus of his presidential
candidacy, depicting purported Vietnam events in nearly $100 million in
advertising. Copies of ads such as "Lifetime" and "No Man Left Behind" may
be found on Kerry's website.
Kerry's authorized campaign biography, Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the
Vietnam War, by Douglas Brinkley (New York: HarperCollins, 2004) ("Tour"),
centers on his short Vietnam tour and contains Kerry's account of these
events. Additional accounts by Kerry of his Vietnam experience may be found
on his website.
The Advertisement A true and correct transcript of the advertisement
entitled "Any Questions?" is attached as Exhibit 1. Affidavits are attached
(as Exhibits 2 through 14) from each participant in the advertisement,
except from John Edwards, the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, whose
often-repeated invitation to learn about John Kerry by speaking to the men
who served with him begins the advertisement. The filmed comment of Senator
Edwards has been made so many times as to be general knowledge.
As described in the attached affidavits, Al French (Exhibit 2), Bob Elder
(Exhibit 3), Jack Chenoweth (Exhibit 7), Larry Thurlow (Exhibit 10), and Bob
Hildreth (Exhibit 14) were all officers in charge of Swift boats in Vietnam
in Coastal Division 11 with John Kerry.
Coastal Division 11 was a small naval unit with about one hundred sailors
and fifteen or sixteen boats which operated in groups of two to six boats.
Each of these boat officers operated directly with John Kerry on numerous
occasions. Van Odell (Exhibit 6) is a retired Navy enlisted man who also
served in Coastal Division 11 on the Chenoweth boat, a few yards from John
Kerry during Kerry's March 13, 1969 Bronze Star action.
Captain George Elliott, USN (retired), (Exhibit 4) was John Kerry's direct
commander in Coastal Division 11, while Captain Adrian Lonsdale, USCG
(retired), (Exhibit 9) was Kerry's administrative commander. Rear Admiral
Roy Hoffmann, USN (retired), (Exhibit 8) commanded all Swift boats
(including Kerry's) in Vietnam. Each of these commanders interacted on
numerous occasions with Kerry and, for example, is discussed for many pages
in Kerry's own authorized book, Tour of Duty.
Dr. Louis Letson (Exhibit 5) was the doctor in Cam Rahn Bay who treated
Kerry's first Purple Heart "wound," while Commander Grant Hibbard (Exhibit
11) was John Kerry's commander at Coastal Division 14 where Kerry claimed to
have suffered the wound. Finally, Joe Ponder (Exhibit 13) and Shelton White
(Exhibit 12) are veterans of Coastal Division 11 who were badly wounded near
the Song Bo De River where Kerry served most of his short tour.
The Kerry campaign has utilized a revolving group of eight veterans from
Coastal Division 11 (none of whom served with Kerry as much as two months).
In stark contrast to this small stable of supporters, the veterans on "Any
Questions?" have intimate knowledge of John Kerry or (in the case of Ponder
and White) of the falsehood and injury of his false war crimes charges.
Although many more of the over 250 signers of the Swiftvets' letter served
directly with John Kerry, it would be hard to locate people with more
detailed and first-hand knowledge of John Kerry's short Vietnam stay than
those in the advertisement. They are well-suited to respond with first-hand
knowledge to Edward's invitation. Their sworn affidavits are attached (in
order of appearance in the advertisement) as Exhibits 2 through 14.
Kerry's obtaining of three Purple Hearts permitted him to leave Vietnam some
243 days short of the normal one-year tour. See Exhibit 20, Thrice Wounded
Reassignment. Whether or not he fraudulently obtained these awards (the
Purple Heart being among the most sacred of all awards) is critical to his
true Vietnam story.
A. March 13, 1969: "No Man Left Behind" Incident Attached as Exhibit 15 is
Kerry's account of "no man left behind" where, in Tour of Duty, Kerry
repeats his now-familiar story of returning, wounded by an underwater mine,
to recover a Special Forces soldier, Jim Rassman, in a hail of fire pulling
Rassman from the water with his bleeding arm. Tour, at 31317. The story of
Kerry's return to save Rassman, under fire and wounded from the mine, has
been told in many millions of dollars of Kerry advertising. See Kerry
website; see also, e.g., Kerry's full-page advertisement in The New York
Times, which is attached as Exhibit 16.
Kerry's after-action report for that day is featured on his website. See
Exhibit 17. KJW identifies the report as Kerry's. Likewise, Kerry reported
his shrapnel wounds to the Navy in an injury report:
"LTJG Kerry suffered shrapnel wounds in his left buttocks and contusions on
his right forearm when a mine detonated close aboard PCF94."
Exhibit 18. Exhibit 17 likewise identifies Kerry's "injuries" as contusion
right forearm (minor) (i.e., a small bruise) and a shrapnel wound left
The regulations for the Purple Heart are attached as Exhibit 19 and, of
course, exclude accidental injury and self-inflicted wounds (except
non-negligent wounds in the heat of battle). Although Kerry's "minor"
bruise could never entitle him to a Purple Heart, Kerry's reported shrapnel
wound to his "buttocks" (although minor according to the treating physician)
from an enemy mine would have entitled him to such an award (had he not been
lying about its origin). Receiving the third Purple Heart, within three
days Kerry had requested reassignment from Vietnam on the basis of three
Purple Hearts some 243 days early. See Exhibit 20.
(i) The Purple Heart Lie Kerry's third Purple Heart was his ticket home.
It also was much of the basis of his Bronze Star, repeating "his bleeding
arm" and shrapnel wound from the mine story. The problem is that his
operating report was a total lie since Kerry's shrapnel wound "in the
buttocks" came not from a mine at all as he falsely reported, but at his own
hand. Larry Thurlow, an officer on shore with Kerry that day, recounts that
Kerry's shrapnel wound came not from any mine, but from a self-inflicted
wound when Kerry (with no enemy to be seen) threw a concussion grenade into
a rice pile and stayed too close.
See Exhibit 10, ¶ 3. This "brown rice" incident with rice/shrapnel lodged
in Kerry from his own grenade is also recounted by James Rassman, a Kerry
supporter and "the no man left behind"
on page 105 of John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe
Reporters, Who Know Him Best, by Michael Kranish, Brian C. Mooney, and Nina
J. Easton (New York: Public!
Affairs, 2004) (the "Kranish book"). See Exhibit 21.
Most surprisingly, John Kerry himself (while falsely reporting to the Navy
and public that he suffered a shrapnel wound from a mine explosion so as to
get a third Purple Heart and go home)
reflected in his own journal that his buttocks' wound came, not from any
mine but, rather, from a grenade tossed into a rice cache by himself or
friendly troops (in the absence of any enemy fire). "I got a piece of small
grenade in my ass from one of the rice bin explosions." Exhibit 15, Tour, at
313; see also Exhibit 15, Tour, at 317. "Kerry . . . also had the bits
of shrapnel and rice extracted from his backside." See also the sworn
statement of participants that there was no hostile fire (Exhibits 6, 7, and
10). It also should be noted that the rice extracted from Kerry's backside
could hardly be the result of an underwater mine, as Kerry claimed in his
The conclusion is inescapable: that Kerry lied by reporting to the Navy that
he had been wounded by shrapnel in his backside from an enemy mine when in
reality he negligently wounded himself and then lied about the wound in
order to secure a third Purple Heart and a quick trip home.
(ii) The Bronze Star Lie As recounted in the attached affidavits of three
on-scene participants (and verified by many others present) Kerry's
operating report, Bronze Star story, and subsequent "no man left behind"
story are a total hoax on the Navy and the nation. As recounted in the
affidavits of Van Odell (Exhibit 6), Jack Chenoweth (Exhibit 7), and Larry
Thurlow (Exhibit 10) (and verified by every other officer present and many
others), a mine went off under PCF 3 some yards from Kerry's boat. The
force of the explosion disabled PCF 3 and knocked several sailors, dazed,
into the water. All boats, except one, closed to rescue the sailors and
defend the disabled boat. That boat Kerry's boat fled the scene. After a
short period, it was evident to all on the scene that there was no
additional hostile fire. Thurlow began the daring rescue of disabled PCF 3,
while Chenoweth began to pluck dazed survivors of PCF 3 from the water.
Midway through the process, after it was apparent that there was no hostile
fire, Kerry finally returned, picking up Rassman who was only a few yards
from Chenoweth's boat which was also going to pick Rassman up. Each of the
affiants (and many other Swiftees on the scene that day) are certain that
Kerry has wholly lied about the incident. Consider this: How could the
disabled PCF abandon the scene of the mine? Why did Kerry have to "return"
to the scene?
Kerry's account of this action, which was used to secure the Bronze Star and
a third Purple Heart, is an extraordinary example of fraud. Kerry describes
"boats rcv'd heavy A/W and S/A from both banks. Fire continued for about
5000 meters." Exhibit 17. In other words, the boats went through a double
gauntlet at about 50 yards distance that was 3.2 miles long (comparable to
Seminary Ridge at Gettysburg on two sides), and yet none of the other boats
within feet of Kerry's boat heard a shot or suffered an injury after the PCF
3 mine explosion, except for John Kerry's buttocks rice wound of earlier
Clearly, Van Odell is right when he says, "John Kerry lied to get his Bronze
Star . . I know. I was there. I saw what happened." As Jack Chenoweth
swore, "his account of what happened and what actually happened are the
difference between night and day." Most poignantly, Larry Thurlow, whose
brave actions saved the PCF 3 boat that day after Kerry fled, has the right
to say, "When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry."
B. December 2, 1968 Purple Heart On February 28, 1969, John Kerry received
his first Purple Heart for an incident three months earlier, on or about
December 2, 1968. Kerry's account of the incident is contained in Tour of
Duty, pages 147 and 148 (Exhibit 23). Kerry claims to have been with two
crewmen, Zaldonis and Runyon. See Exhibit 23. Neither Kerry, Zaldonis, nor
Runyon claim to have seen any hostile fire. See Exhibit 24 (Kranish book,
pp. 7273). A Purple Heart cannot be given for a self-inflicted wound under
the attached regulations.
Unmentioned in Kerry's Tour of Duty version are the actual surrounding
facts. Kerry, Lieutenant William Schachte, USN, and an enlisted man were on
the whaler. Seeing movement from an unknown source, the sailors opened fire
on the movement. There was no hostile fire. When Kerry's rifle jammed, he
picked up an M79 grenade launcher and fired a grenade at a nearby object.
This sprayed the boat with shrapnel from Kerry's own grenade, a tiny piece
of which embedded in Kerry's arm.
Kerry managed to keep the tiny fragment embedded until he saw Dr. Louis
Letson. Dr. Letson's affidavit is attached as Exhibit 5. When Letson
inquired why Kerry was there, Kerry said that he had been wounded by hostile
fire. The accompanying crewmen indicated that Kerry was the new "JFK" and
that he had actually wounded himself with an M79. Letson removed the tiny
fragment with tweezers and placed a band aid over the tiny scratch. The
tiny fragment removed by Letson appeared to be an M79 fragment, as described
by the personnel accompanying Kerry.
The next morning Kerry showed up at Division Commander Grant Hibbard's
office. Hibbard had already spoken to Schachte and conducted an
investigation. Hibbard's affidavit is attached as Exhibit 11. Hibbard's
investigation revealed that Kerry's "rose thorn" scratch had been
self-inflicted in the absence of hostile fire. Hibbard, therefore, booted
Kerry out of his office and denied the Purple Heart.
Some three months later, cf. Exhibit 22, after all personnel actually
familiar with the events of December 2, 1969 had left Vietnam; Kerry somehow
managed to obtain a Purple Heart for the December 2, 1968 event from an
officer with no connection to Coastal Division 14 or knowledge of the
December 2, 1968 event or of Commander Hibbard's prior turn down of the
Purple Heart request. All normal documentation supporting a Purple Heart is
missing. There is absolutely no casualty report (i.e., spot report) or
hostile fire report or after-action report in the Navy's files to support
this "Purple Heart" because there was no casualty, hostile fire, or action
on which to report. The sole document relied upon by Kerry is a record
showing the band aid and tweezers treatment by Dr. Letson recorded by
deceased corpsman, Jess Carreon.
There are no witnesses who claim to have seen hostile fire necessary for a
Purple Heart (even a rose thorn Purple Heart) that day. At least three
witnesses, Dr. Letson (who spoke to the participants and removed the M79
fragment), Lt. ill Schachte (on the boat), and Cmdr. Grant Hibbard (whose
investigation revealed Kerry's application for a Purple Heart to be
fraudulent), are able to testify directly or based upon contemporaneous
investigation that Kerry's first Purple Heart was a fraud. Thus, Lewis
Letson's statement that "I know John Kerry is lying about a first Purple
Heart" is conclusively established by the evidence.
Like the third Purple Heart, Kerry's first Purple Heart was essential to his
quick trip home.
C. Christmas In Cambodia. If there is a consistent repeated story by
John Kerry about his Vietnam experience, it is his story about how he and
his boat spent Christmas Eve and Christmas of 1968 illegally present in
Cambodia and, listening to President Nixon's contrary assurances, developed
"a deep mistrust of U.S. government pronouncements." See Exhibit 24, Kranish
book, p. 84. The point of his story was that his government and his
commanders were lying about Kerry's presence in Cambodia on Christmas Eve
and Christmas Day. During a critical debate on the floor of the United
States Senate on March 27, 1986, Senator John Kerry said:
Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in
Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by 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 in me . . .
Exhibit 25, Congressional Record Senate of March 27, 1986, page 3594.
By way of further example, Kerry wrote an article for the Boston Herald on
October 14, 1979:
"I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian
border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and
celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost killed by our own allies in
a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was
See Exhibit 26.
The Christmas in Cambodia story of John Kerry was repeated as recently as
July 7, 2004 by Michael Kranish, a principal biographer of Kerry from The
Boston Globe. On the Hannity & Colmes television show, Kranish indicated
that Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia was a critical turning point in Kerry's
The story is a total preposterous fabrication by Kerry. Exhibit 8 is an
affidavit by the Commander of the Swift boats in Vietnam, Admiral Roy
Hoffmann, stating that Kerry's claim to be in Cambodia for Christmas Eve and
Christmas of 1968 is a total lie. If necessary, similar affidavits are
available from the entire chain of command. In reality, Kerry was at Sa Dec
easily locatable on any map more than fifty miles from Cambodia. Kerry
himself inadvertently admits that he was in Sa Dec for Christmas Eve and
Christmas and not in Cambodia, as he had stated for so many years on the
Senate Floor, in the newspapers, and elsewhere.
Exhibit 27, Tour, pp. 213219. Sa Dec is hardly "close" to the Cambodian
border. In reality, far from being ordered secretly to Cambodia, Kerry
spent a pleasant night at Sa Dec with "visions of sugar plums" dancing in
his head. Exhibit 27, p.219. At Sa Dec where the Swift boat patrol area
ended, there were many miles of other boats (PBR's) leading to the Cambodian
border. There were also gunboats on the border to prevent any crossing. If
Kerry tried to get through, he would have been arrested. Obviously, Kerry
has hardly been honest about his service in Vietnam.
D. War Crimes Returning to the United States, Kerry made speeches charging
that U.S. forces in Vietnam were "like the army of Genghis Khan," that
"crimes were committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of all
levels of command," and that our officers in Coastal Division were like
Lieutenant Calley. Kerry met on least two occasions with the North
Vietnamese in Paris and is, in fact, honored as a hero in the war museum in
Ho Chi Minh City. See pictures on WinterSoldier.com and SwiftVets.com. Joe
Ponder is a widely quoted disabled vet from Coastal Division 11 who saw no
war crimes but knows that Kerry dishonored our unit.
Exhibit 13. Shelton White, a badly wounded Coastal Division 11 veteran,
likewise saw no war crimes and remembers Kerry's betrayal. Exhibit 12.
Conclusion As set forth at length, there is not only a reasonable factual
basis for the statements in the ad; they are virtually conclusively
established by the documentation.
Thank you for your kind consideration. Please do not hesitate to call me if
you have any questions.
Very truly yours, Original signed by John E. O'Neill John E. O'Neill
JEO/cas Attachments Index of Exhibits
1. Transcript of "Any Questions?" Advertisement, July 2004
2. Affidavit of Alfred J. French III, dated July 21, 2004
3. Affidavit of Robert G. Elder, dated July 21, 2004
4. Affidavit of George Elliott, dated July 21, 2004
5. Statement (notarized) of Dr. Louis Letson, dated July 21, 2004
6. Affidavit of Van Odell, dated July 21, 2004
7. Affidavit of Jack Chenoweth, dated July 21, 2004
8. Affidavit of Roy F. Hoffmann, dated July 22, 2004
9. Affidavit of Adrian L. Lonsdale, dated July 22, 2004
10. Affidavit of Larry Thurlow, dated July 22, 2004
11. Affidavit of Grant W. Hubbard, dated July 21, 2004
12. Affidavit of Shelton White, dated July 30, 2004
13. Affidavit of Joseph L. Ponder, dated July 21, 2004
14. Affidavit of Robert Hildreth, dated July 30, 2004
15. Pages 313 through 318 from Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam
War, by Douglas Brinkley (New York: HarperCollins, 2004)
16. Advertisement entitled "He Asked What He Could Do For His Country.
Then He Did It," The New York Times, May 11, 2004, p. A13
17. After Action Spot Report for March 1969, pages 2 and 3 (obtained from
18. March 1969 injury report (4 pages)
19. Regulations governing award of Purple Heart
20. Thrice Wounded Reassignment, dated March 1969 (obtained from
21. Page 105 from John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography By The Boston
Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, written by Michael Kranish, Brian C.
Mooney, and Nina J. Easton (New York: Public Affairs, 2004)
22. Citation for Purple Heart #1 (obtained from
23. Pages 147 and 148 from Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, by
Douglas Brinkley (New York: HarperCollins, 2004)
24. Page 84 from John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography ByThe Boston Globe
Reporters Who Know Him Best, written by Michael Kranish, Brian C.
Mooney, and Nina J. Easton (New York: Public Affairs, 2004)
25. Congressional Record Senate, March 27, 1986, pages 3593 and 3594
26. Pages 398 and 399 from John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography By The
Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, written by Michael Kranish, Brian
C. Mooney, and Nina J. Easton (New York: Public Affairs, 2004)
27. Pages 213 through 219 from Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam
War, by Douglas Brinkley (New York: HarperCollins, 2004)
The three instances here of Kerry's fraud upon the Navy and the public
are solely by way of illustration. There are many examples of equal