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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

One Vietnam vet's letter to another

In blogging about the SwiftVets vs. Kerry controversy, I've reminded myself many times, and often noted in my posts, that I lack any first-hand military experience or the bona fides that come with it.

But I'm proud to reprint with permission an eloquent letter, from someone who does have those bona fides, written to someone who also shares them (boldface mine):

An Open Letter to Senator John McCain from a Vietnam Veteran

Senator McCain,

I begin this missive with an embrazo, as we call it here in Texas, for your service to our country, as a warrior, as a prisoner of war and as a United States Senator. You have served far better and endured far more in the service of America than most men will ever do. For that, this old sergeant salutes you.

That said, as a Vietnam ground combat veteran, I must take issue with you on the situation of John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans. You have labeled these men "dishonest and dishonorable," and that, Sir, is nothing more than your opinion based on no direct knowledge of the events they dispute. For you to so condemn these men publicly, without any firsthand knowledge of John Kerry’s performance in their midst and under their professional observation, is unfair to them and all veterans who share their view that John Kerry is unfit to command. Who was best qualified to evaluate you as a naval aviator, those senior officers who flew with you or the enlisted men who serviced your aircraft? Who had the experience, training and knowledge to make a professional military judgment of your performance in the air, the trained naval aviators on your wing or the enlisted flight crew back on the carrier? Certainly the enlisted men were vital in performing the mission but observing and rating your performance was not their role.

It is my understanding that you originally shared our animosity towards John Kerry, but during your senatorial service, you came to know John Kerry more personally and chose to forgive him for his labeling you a war criminal. That you are able to forgive a man even though he had denounced you and your fellow aviators as you languished in North Vietnamese prisons, with your captors using his testimony to try to break your will, is truly commendable. I admire you for your ability to turn the other cheek. However, I must point out that your forgiveness of John Kerry is purely personal and imposes not one iota of obligation to forgive him on those of us who still consider him contemptible.

You carry no mandate to speak for us. Your personal feelings are yours and yours alone; but, emphatically, you do not speak for us. You spoke up to defend your friend and your friend has turned your words into talking points. It is truly reprehensible how the Kerry campaign and the mainstream media are hiding so cynically behind your condemnation of the Swiftvets, using your statement as an excuse to dismiss their claims as baseless, smear politics. Honestly, Senator, did you really intend to provide this kind of cover for those who are so desperate to prevent the truth from coming out?

With all do respect, since you weren’t there to observe John Kerry first hand as were these Swiftvets, may I humbly suggest that the honorable thing for you to do, is to stay out of this fight and allow them and us to have our voice. Moreover, there is one thing you could do to level the playing field: acknowledge that you have no true knowledge of events the Swiftvets describe and that your immediate condemnation of these men was premature. Call on the mainstream media to investigate all parties fairly and determine whose version of events is true. I understand John Kerry is your friend, but that places him neither beyond accountability nor above the truth. You have a unique ability at this moment in America’s history to make a difference. You have long been a dutiful warrior and servant of the people.

Please, do your duty now.

/s/ Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

I would request that all who agree with the sentiments expressed here copy this letter and send it to:

Update:  I can add nothing to this eloquent letter.  You can cut and paste Mr. Vaughn's letter, and add your own comments, on Sen. McCain's website; from the choices in his drop-down topics list, I'd suggest "Veteran's Affairs."   

But I've read elsewhere that politicians sometimes pay more attention to regular letters, faxes, and telephone calls than they do to emails or electronic messages, so here's the Senator's alternate contact information:

The Hon. John McCain
241 Russell Senate Ofc. Bldg.
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2235
Fax: (202) 228-2862

Posted by Beldar at 10:44 PM in Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to One Vietnam vet's letter to another and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Oh My - Oh my, OH MY! from Cranial Cavity

Tracked on Aug 25, 2004 8:32:21 AM


(1) recon made the following comment | Aug 24, 2004 11:00:29 PM | Permalink

DAMN. This man has a way with words.

And they are a perfect fit.

(2) Marc made the following comment | Aug 25, 2004 8:49:56 AM | Permalink

I have been seething over the McCain's remarks since first reading them. I buy into the whole personna of being a "loose cannon," but Jesus H, Christ in a ferris wheel.

For the life of me I will never understand why he loosed his cannonade on the SBVT. It makes zero sense given Kerry's past transgressions in 1971 and McCains time spent in the Hanoi Hilton.

Friendship be dammed. If Kerry fails in his bid for the WH, and odds show improvement each day Kerry speaks, he will be jobless. McCain won't have to deal with him on any level. No WH, no Senate job. Nothing, zero, zip as it should be.

And the irony is the entire shameful episode is preceeded by a peice of trash legislation that has McCain's moniker all over it.

(3) Chap made the following comment | Aug 25, 2004 9:10:47 AM | Permalink

In more than one congressional office I visited, the staffers told me that they care most about handwritten letters by constituents because you can't spam handwritten letters well, and constituents vote in your district. Might be useful to you.

Also, the letter writer neglects what might be a driver for McCain in this situation: in 2000, McCain's own roving moonbats attacked his Vietnam service. My guess is that McCain won't change his stance without satisfying his own gut reaction to being attacked about his service.

(4) paradislemoko made the following comment | Aug 25, 2004 9:36:30 AM | Permalink

Just a note about the thoughtful and eloquent letter from Russ Vaughn. The web address for Senator McCain that Mr. Vaughn lists at the bottom of his letter is just that, a web address. Should you want to send an email to Senator McCain, here's the email address:

[email protected]

(5) recon made the following comment | Aug 25, 2004 4:21:54 PM | Permalink

McCain and Kerry were complicit in shutting down the POW/MIA investigations, gateway to normalizing relations with Vietnam.

Kerry's cousin Forbes got a billion dollar port reconstruction contract from Hanoi for openers, plus rights to market all saleable real estate. Recently Forbes/Collier US made a $100,000 to the Dem Convention in Boston. How many contributions to campaigns and lifestyle previously??

McCain got to seal ALL POW/MIA records, even from the families -- right, what has he got to hide? Likely plenty. We know he was turned, and perhaps less under duress than voluntarily. He got privileged treatment and voluntarily made the written and video'd propaganda statements Hanoi wanted. Time will eventually tell the rest.

Start here, then go Googling.

Kerry goes down, he can take McCain. They both know it and Kerry would have no scruples about using it. I'm sure they've openly discussed their respective deals with their respective devils.

BTW, summation in the POW/MIA community (among others) is: "To know John McCain is to despise him."

Don't believe me, just check it out on your own.

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