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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Why Kerry's Belodeau Eulogy deserves more attention

Dear blogosphere and (yeah, right) mainstream media: 

In the Belodeau Eulogy, Kerry said Rassmann fell

overboard in a sharp turn, not due to a second mine!

Now that I have done what I can to ensure that I haven't buried my lede, let me explain:

After studying an article entitled "Editors Grapple With How to Cover Swift Boat Controversy," Sir George of The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler observes that "it's hard to know what to make of this horrifyingly candid crap in Editor & Publisher, so I'll just Fisk it till it stops twitching."  He does so in a stylish and entertaining fashion guaranteed to cause many chuckles even among readers who aren't quite yet sold on all of his ultimate conclusions. 

Along the way, Sir George ably highlights the details and significance of Kerry's Belodeau Eulogy, as reprinted in the Congressional Record, and graciously credits me for finding and pointing it out.  The credit is actually due to two of my readers who found and brought it to my attention, and I'm embarrassed that I didn't snap to its importance more quickly.  Re-reading my original post, I recognize that I also was guilty of burying my lede because of my desire not to seem ghoulish while highlighting a jangling contradiction that, after all, appeared in an extremely sober source.  And I still want to emphasize that nothing in this argument should be deemed to reflect poorly upon — or diminish the justifiable honor paid by Sen. Kerry to — his former crewman, the late Tommy Belodeau.

In the Belodeau Eulogy — an eloquent speech that I credit Kerry with preparing meticulously, and that is available to the public from an unimpeachable and unbiased source, the Congressional Record  (.pdf files: first page, second page) — Kerry describes Rassmann's loss overboard in a manner that is quite at odds with the version contained in the documentation for his Bronze Star and other contemporaneous documents.  Yet to my eyes, it's actually a far more plausible account.  Sir George takes a closer look than I originally did at the version of events described in the Belodeau Eulogy, using the better understanding we all think we have now of the geographical layout around where PCF 3 hit a mine, and Sir George makes some further observations that would make Sir Issac Newton very proud and, perhaps, Sen. Kerry very nervous:  The events described in the Belodeau eulogy couldn't logically have resulted in Kerry's bruised right arm — the most defensible basis for his third Purple Heart — unless Kerry was facing his boat's stern as it raced first away from, then back toward, the stricken PCF 3

And as I noted in my original post, there's no "second mine" in the Belodeau Eulogy.  There's only one mine in this rendition; it goes off under Kerry's boat, not PCF 3 (which isn't even mentioned); and it goes off well before Rassmann goes overboard.

One reason the "Christmas in Cambodia" fairy tale became the first break-through in the mainstream media — and hence the first major roll-back in the Kerry camp's position — was its simplicity as compared to the far more complicated questions surrounding the merits, or lack thereof, behind Kerry's Silver and Bronze Stars and two of his three Purple Hearts.  But I also suspect that some considerable portion of the momentum from that story came from Glenn Reynolds' digital camera, whence he produced a widely reprinted image of the yellowed page from the Congressional Record with the now-famous "seared — seared" quotation from Kerry speaking to the United States Senate.

Perhaps general understanding of the Bay Hap River action and the Rassmann rescue, out of which Kerry's Bronze Star and third Purple Heart were awarded, is now widespread enough that the Belodeau Eulogy — and in particular, its vivid contrast from what Kerry and his supporters have consistently said about those events — can now likewise be appreciated.  Physics and geography aside, it's as simple as "one mine" versus "two mines."

Although I have a digital camera, I don't have the ready access to the hard-bound Congressional Record that Prof. Reynolds photographed.  So I'll have to make due with a series of simple .jpg files I've screencapped and snipped from the .pdf file (at 150 percent magnification) that I downloaded and saved from the Congressional Record's website — which is admittedly less impressive on a visceral level than Prof. Reynold's digital photo of an actual time-yellowed page:

page number from the 1998 Congressional Record, 'S' for 'Senate'
page title from the 1998 Congressional Record
page date from the 1998 Congressional Record
introductory text from the center column
* * *
relevant text  from the far-right column

("Lowell-Chelmsford," I gather from a quick Google search my commenter Steven Jens, is a neighborhood in Boston refers to a pair of Massachusetts towns that doubtless was were  recognized by most everyone at the funeral of Boston Massachusetts native Belodeau.)

As I wrote in my original post, I fully credit the news accounts that Sen. Kerry spoke with passion and visible emotion when he delivered the Belodeau Eulogy aloud at Mr. Belodeau's funeral.  One opinion expressed in John O'Neill's Unfit for Command (at page 77) that I thought probably overbroad was the statement that "Kerry never formed the kind of human relationships with his fellow sailors that are essential to effective performance."  The opinion was offered in connection with the revelation that Captain Thomas Wright and other officers weren't sorry to see Kerry leave the Swiftees early, and actually brought to his attention that his third Purple Heart could be his ticket stateside; and perhaps the opinion accurately describes Kerry's relationship with his fellow Swiftee officers. 

But it's hard not to be impressed by the fact that of Kerry's surviving crewmen — as his campaign has emphasized again and again — all but one have rallied to his defense in the current controversy.  And I, for one, am inclined to believe that in writing and delivering the Belodeau Eulogy, Sen. Kerry, at least for once, dropped most of the self-aggrandizement that characterizes so many of his other tales of his wartime experiences.  His insertion of the Belodeau Eulogy into the Congressional Record was a fitting gesture to the man and his surviving family, rather than Sen. Kerry bloviating on the Senate floor as part of a Senate debate or myth-making for the press in one of his own re-election campaigns.  These are admittedly speculative reasons.  But the Belodeau Eulogy version fits better with the boat damage reports and the geography on which all must agree, regardless of the widely varying and inconsistent recollections given in other circumstances by various observers.  So I'm inclined to conclude that — with, perhaps, the exception of the one mine being relocated from under PCF 3 to under Kerry's own boat — the events related in the Belodeau Eulogy are actually Sen. Kerry's best, unguarded, and unspun recollections as to how Rassmann actually came to fall from PCF 94.

In any event, however — whether it's ultimately adjudged to be accurate or not — the version of events given by Sen. Kerry in the Belodeau Eulogy deserves attention if for no other reason than that it's at such variance from the version he (and some others, including Rassmann) have told so many other times.

Posted by Beldar at 12:39 AM in Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Why Kerry's Belodeau Eulogy deserves more attention and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» BeldarBlog from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill

Tracked on Aug 27, 2004 1:54:04 PM

» waucedoa from geczox

Tracked on Jan 5, 2005 3:07:24 AM

» stcfenemevo from ieuau

Tracked on Jan 5, 2005 3:44:28 AM


(1) Steven Jens made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 3:38:55 AM | Permalink

(Lowell-Chelmsford, I gather from a quick Google search, is a neighborhood in Boston that doubtless was recognized by most everyone at the funeral of Boston native Belodeau.)

You'd be close -- Lowell is a city most of the way from Boston to New Hampshire. Chelmsford is an adjacent town, somewhat smaller. Was Belodeau from Chelmsford? I don't know, and I can assure you that I don't really care. But there's your eastern-Massachusetts geography lesson for the day.

(2) rob made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 5:36:53 AM | Permalink

Having read the various accounts of the incident several times, I agree that Rasmann's falling off PCF 94 during the high speed maneuver when Kerry's boat beat feet after the mine explosion seems to be the Occam's razor version: Whether Rasmann was sitting on the pilot house eating a cookie (as in other some versions) or walking to get another M-60 for Belodeu (in this version), he was not hanging onto the boat in anticipation of a high speed turn.

While I don't know for a fact that Rasmann's not a sailor, I haven't seen anything in his background to suggest he was. In my experience, those unfamiliar with boats often lose their balance during unanticipated maneuvers if they are not holding on. And, although the turn away differs from the tactic Kerry and Rood employed on Silver Star Day, an immediate high speed turn away from an explosion (almost before noticing the effect on the other boat) seems to me a very instinctive reaction, especially if the enlisted pilot had the conn while Kerry was below (as in some accounts).

(3) ed made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 7:58:25 AM | Permalink


Ok. So Kerry was supposedly injured by an underwater mine. How is it that Rassman wasn't injured by that same mine when he was in such a precarious position?

PCF boat tour

There is very little space for an armed man to walk past the pilot house. Belodeau was the bow M-60 machinegunner. Rassman would have had to walk past the pilot house to give him another M-60.

So how did Rassman avoid getting hammered by the underwater mine if he was in such an exposed position?

(4) M. Simon made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 8:33:28 AM | Permalink

I'd like to get to the crux of the whole thing. I think undermining Kerry's stories is critical. However, undermining the image of his character is the war. So here I go again:

There is a big difference between William Calley and John Kerry. William Calley is a proven war criminal. For John Kerry we only have his word as an officer and a gentleman.

What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records.

Video link

(5) MichaelW made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 8:48:06 AM | Permalink

Not to quibble, but the story described in the CR seems to differ from the other 13MAR69 stories in another important respect -- the turn to starboard. It is undisputed that Kerry was on the right (starboard) side of the river during the infamouse Bronze-Star incident. That being the case, he wouldn't have turned towards the beach (especially when under fire) when bring the PCF around to return to help PCF 3. Maybe Kerry miswrote, forgot, or simply got it wrong as to which way he turned, but that doesn't seem likely in this instance.

Maybe the eulogy is a conflation of the 12MAR69 and 13MAR69 incidents? It is apparently uncontested that PCF 94 sustained significant damage on 12MAR69. Maybe that day he turned PCF 94 to starboard after being hit, but the next day was when Rassman went overboard?

(6) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 9:46:19 AM | Permalink

Michael W, Sir George also made that point in the post I've linked above. One possible explanation for the starboard turn, though, could be if whoever was piloting Kerry's boat had just made a hard turn to port to help clear the fishing weir, then gunned the engines to clear the weir area when he heard the mine explode under PCF 3. If, as one hopes they'd then have done, they were coming back around to help lay down suppressive fire against the possibility of an ambush, a starboard turn might have been the way to do that.

Ed, for the reasons you mention, among many others, I'm extremely doubtful that there was a second mine.

The other alternate explanation that's been offered for Rassmann going overboard is that Kerry's boat hit a stump or other water obstacle. That speculation fits nicely with the curled props in the boat damage report. But none of the witnesses' accounts supports it, to my knowledge.

Of course, the witness accounts are all over the place. Sandusky's been quoted as saying he thinks there wasn't a second mine, but maybe there was an RPG explosion. New witness Jim Russell claims to have heard a second mine, but behind him — and he was on the boat directly behind Kerry's PCF 94.

I've been wondering whether perhaps one of the fantail gunners on one or more of the Swift Boats' 81mm mortars squeezed off a round toward the shoreline as part of the suppressive fire. I've read that those guns have power comparable to a naval 3-inch gun, from which I suspect the resulting explosion would sound quite different from that of the twin .50-calibur Brownings up top, or the single .50-calibur Browning that was part of the 81mm mortar over-and-under combo, or the M-60 or M-16 fire from elsewhere. Perhaps a Swiftee, or even a deepwater Navy guy, can fill us in on the different sounds from those armaments and how they might have compared to the sound of an underwater mine.

But while all this armchair speculating is fun, I don't want it to obscure the major point here. Whatever the "real" reason was for Rassmann going overboard, Sen. Kerry — the witness whose entire credibility is at most at issue here — has told two mutually inconsistent stories. That conflict is important regardless of what actually caused Rassmann to go overboard, at least in my opinion.

(7) mcg made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 10:38:48 AM | Permalink

If this story is to be believed, then it contradicts the other Swifties' claim that there was no enemy fire during this incident.

(8) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 11:54:42 AM | Permalink

Recently released item:

John Kerry's Final Mission by Brinkley

Resets nearly all analyses back to square one. Certainly destroys nice weekend WaPo graphics.

* Does verify Kerry's windows were blown out 2 days earlier on 11 Mar.
* More details about the heavy RF/PF troop loads on each vessel, which substantially increased draft and reduced speed.
* Kerry carried the SF Team Leader, a captain, not Rassmann, the XO.
* More details about the earlier incident at the ville. Claims Nung blew rice cache (ha!)
* The last thing I'd be thinking about as a combat leader under fire is some old man paying a hooker on an expense account back in Manhattan and/or an ice cream sunday.
* Rassmann (claimed here) was on and thrown from PCF #3
* Rassman (claimed here) was in the water for virtually no time at all
* Kerry/Sandusky (claimed) provided IMMEDIATE fire cover for PCF #3 when it was hit
* Kerry claims a second mine hit here, yet to be substantiated
* Kerry (claims) he 180'd and charged a massive ambush to pick up Rassmann at his rear during this incident on 13 Mar ILO running 5000 meters, as per his officially filed record
* Kerry claims a second wave of ambush fire after picking up Rassmann as Thurlow struggles to gain control of PCF #3
* Kerry (claims) towed PCF #3 with PCF #94 when it was clear Kerry had beat feet to the CG Cutter for strategic rice removal
* Kerry claims to have been consoling the Nung for loss of their comrade at a time long after he'd already been evac'd for rice extraction
* Claims Kerry's 3rd PH is for a bruised arm on 13 Mar.
* Not much reconciles with other Kerry stories or the records. Puts much more credibility into SwiftVets.

This is far too target-rich an environment for me to exploit alone without sharing in the pleasure.

No wonder Brinkley is in hiding!!!

Kerry. Fork. Some asembly required.

(9) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 12:01:45 PM | Permalink

If the above is a sample of what the Swifties were finally reading when 'Tour of Duty' was released, no wonder they were and still are hopping mad. They were merely props for JFK's heroic theatre.

I have not read 'Tour,' but based on the above alone relative to all other descriptions, interpretations, portrayals, Kerry spin-iacs and the actual record, I'd call 'Tour' historical fiction, not even close to real.

I have read 'Unfit For Command' and have a good grasp of that side of the story.

Now it makes so much more sense.

(10) Al made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 12:27:52 PM | Permalink

You can turn up different versions of things Kerry has said all day long. Knocking off a detail here or there isn't going to convince any of the pro-Kerry people - they accept his position on the current war for instance.

To be convincing, it has to be the core piece of the story. Like proving Rassmun wasn't there. Or Kerry wasn't. Or something.

(11) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 2:49:52 PM | Permalink

Jim, thanks for the link to the History Net piece. It looks at a glance to be almost paragraph for paragraph out of Tour of Duty starting at page 303, with a couple of introductory paragraphs cobbled together. But I'm taking a closer look to see what, if anything, may be new in it; if so, I'll probably start a new post on that subject.

Al, you may be right about what it would take to shake the true believers or get the attention of those who are tuned out. Time will tell.

(12) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 3:08:12 PM | Permalink

Beldar, what amazes me is the sheer volume and degree of this piece's divergence from everything I've seen and seen discussed.

Up front, does Rassmann lie in the WSJ, or does Kerry/Brinkley lie here? It's binary.

Rassmann either is or is not on PCF #3 or PCF #94. This is a critical point. Rassmann says #94 and Kerry /Brinkley says #3.

Brinkley here claims that Kerry immediately rushed to #3's aid while the official record claims Kerry fled down an ambush gauntlet of 5000 meters.

And on. And on.

Does Kerry merely bag Brinkley for inconvenient representations?

I think it's always made more sense to me that Rassmann be on boat #3 than #94, but let there be no doubt that there must be an AAR filed in the archives of 5th Special Forces Group on this action of Operational Detachment A-404. Now that we (should?) know that 1LT Rassmann was an XO in the company of his Captain/CO, there are other avenues to pursue for validation and perhaps amplification.

As I said, I have not read 'Tour' yet, but I can now more fully respect why the SwiftVets are up in arms.

(13) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 3:46:13 PM | Permalink

Jim, I've finished comparing the History.net online version against pp. 303-318 of Tour of Duty.

I'm pretty sure that this online version has been out there for a while, although I hadn't read it until today. The website version is confusing because (as I confirmed by taking a look at the .html source) it inserts the current date near the top left corner of each page — not a static date showing when the online version was first published.

There are indeed several variances between the website version and the print version in the book. For example, the website version, on its second page, omits this fairly significant sentence that appears in the version on page 313 of Tour of Duty:

"I got a piece of small grenade in my ass from one of the rice-bin explosions and then we started to move back to the boats, firing to our rear as we went," Kerry related.

That could have been an innocent editorial omission — other places, there are blocks of text chopped from the book version, presumably to shorten the piece. A cynic would suggest that it was left out of the online version because it highlights the noncombat nature of the butt wound that's lately become part of the debate about Kerry's third Purple Heart.

Tour of Duty refers (on page 307-308) to a conversation between an unnamed "U.S. Special Forces captain with Kerry in the pilothouse" of Kerry's boat earlier in the day; Rassmann, of course, was a lieutenant. The online version also reports the conversation with the "captain." As far as I know, no one has stepped forward to identify who that individual may have been.

On page 314 of Tour of Duty, the big variances from the online History.net version begin. ToD has this version:

Right where they had been hit on the earlier mission, a mine went off directly beneath PCF-3 just off Kerry's port side. The Swift landed about two feet up out of the water ....

The History.net version of the same passage reads,

Right where they had been hit on an earlier mission, a mine exploded directly beneath Lieutenant James Rassman's PCF-3 near Kerry's port side. Rassman's Swift lifted about two feet up out of the water ....

In the same paragraph on page 314, ToD says (quoting from Kerry's journal):

"... Suddenly another explosion went off right beside us, and the concussion threw me violently against the bulkhead on the door and I smashed my arm." At that instant, Army Lieutenant Jim Rassman, who was on PCF-35, was blown overboard, although nobody knew it.

I'm thinking that the reference to "PCF-35" must have been a typo, and who knows what was intended there? There wasn't a PCF-35 on the mission; the commanders were Kerry (PCF 94), Droz (PCF 43), Pees (PCF 3), Chenoweth (PCF 23), and Thurlow (PCF 51). It appears from the Swiftboats.net website that there was a PCF 35 somewhere in Coastal Division One at that time, and that it was then commanded by a LTJG John Rogers Roland Jr., but Roland's name isn't in ToD's index.

The History.net version of this second passage skips the boat number altogether:

"... Suddenly another explosion went off right beside us, and the concussion threw me violently against the bulkhead on the door, and I smashed my arm. At the same instant, Jim Rassman was blown overboard, although nobody knew it.

So these two versions of Brinkley's telling of Kerry's tale — presumably based on both Kerry's diary and his oral recollections as recounted to Brinkley — have Rassman on two different boats, including a boat that wasn't there that day and may be a typo, but neither version has him on Kerry's PCF 94. I'm almost certain that I've read of this conflict before, probably on Captain Ed's Captain's Quarters blog.

Bottom line: Yes, there are weird inconsistencies between Brinkley's version of that day's events and those of all the witnesses, including Kerry, and even inconsistencies within the hard-copy and online versions of Brinkley's version. The latter could be due to screwups induced by sloppy editors, and I'm inclined to give Brinkley the benefit of that doubt. But I'm pretty sure that whatever the History.net version adds to the debate has already been chewed elsewhere in the blogosphere, even though today's the first time I've looked at it carefully.

We're all still waiting breathlessly, of course, for the promised Brinkley rescue of Kerry's Cambodian Adventure Tales in The New Yorker.

(14) gagarin made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 3:58:15 PM | Permalink

New Info:

J.Rassman recieved Purple Heart for something that happened that day.

his name is on the second page.

there is a lively discussion over the swiftvets forum about what kind of injury could that be. getting wet is not enough i'd guess.

(15) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:08:08 PM | Permalink

Thank you, Beldar. I didn't realize until your response just now how late I may be in coming to the party.

FYI, Kerry Spot indicates Rassmann received a PH for this day's action, and I read the General Order authorizing same from 5th Group HQ before he smartly took it down to conceal SSN's.

This would fit with the comment that all aboard #3 were wounded apparently by the mine, and further that a series of reports must have made their way up the SF chain, signed and submitted by the detachment commander.

Shelby Stanton is also an excellent historian of the entire scope of SF in Vietnam, and he may be able to shed some more light on the issue.

Note, the mine going off on Kerry's port side but impacting #3 would be on the other side of the river, potentially 30-50 meters?

I'll also have to see if #3 was holed port or starboard. If starboard, Kerry might have gotten a whump and a splash on his port side. If port, the #3 boat itself would have masked virtually all but the explosive whump transmitted through the water to the hull.

BTW, word is just out that Gardner has called Kerry an outright liar for the Cambodian story in the brand new release of SwiftVets' ad #3.

The screw turns.

(16) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:11:13 PM | Permalink

mcg commented above, referring I think to the Belodeau Eulogy version,

If this story is to be believed, then it contradicts the other Swifties' claim that there was no enemy fire during this incident.

Yes, it would contradict the SwiftVets' claim. But Kerry himself, at least, has always been consistent in insisting that there was enemy fire at some point during the Bay Hap River rescue of PCF 3 and Rassmann — whether along a 5000-meter stretch (highly doubtful) or some lesser area.

(17) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:15:34 PM | Permalink

Swift Boat Vets for Truth Ad #3, focusing on Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia.


STEVE GARDNER: “I spent more time on John Kerry’s boat than any other crew member.

John Kerry hasn’t been honest, he’s been deceitful.

John Kerry claims that he spent Christmas in 1968 in Cambodia and that is categorically a lie.

Not in December, not in January.

We were never in Cambodia on a secret mission, ever.”

VOICE OVER: “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.”

(18) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:37:06 PM | Permalink

One other item I just thought of.

Rassmann's PH does not depend on hostile fire or any other action if he really was injured on PCF #3 by a VC-planted mine.

BTW, SF was not overly generous with medals, and pretty well made sure all were MORE than warranted. That's why I'll put money on Rassmann being on PCF #3 and wounded directly by the mine explosion. His Detachment CO was aparently on the scene to verify that.

Kerry's PH AND Bronze Star, however, are entirely dependent on a claim of hostile fire, since he was not in enough of a position to claim serious injury from what was likely a single mine explosion, which may have been the only hostile thing that happened.

If he claims hostile fire, then he can stake a claim to almost any possible injury around and about when that fire may have taken place (including the 'brown rice' from earlier in the day?), and he can also justify (barely) the Bronze Star for what would otherwise be a routine act of taking an unplanned swimmer aboard.

Interesting enough, Thurlow claims that if his Bronze Star was predicated upon the presence of hostile fire, then he will gladly return it, and almost immediately signed his Form 180.

(19) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:37:41 PM | Permalink

You've read about Brinkley having Rassmann blown off two different boats (in one paragraph!) allright, because I've been pointing it out for over a week, here and elsewhere. Usually to the the reading-challenged Bruce Moomaw. I'm glad it's finally getting proper attention. Because...consider the impossibility of this in Kerry's journal:

"[the #3] Swift lifted about two feet up out of the water...started zigzagging from the banks to the middle of the river....I turned the boat into the fire on the left ... Sandusky, who was driving the boat and who had his eyes glued on the crippled 3 boat, pointed out to me how badly hit they had been. We veered back toward her then and tried to provide cover from the engaged side. Suddenly another explosion went off right beside us, and the concussion threw me violently against the bulkhead on the door, and I smashed my arm. At the same instant, Jim Rassman was blown overboard, although nobody knew it."

Keep in mind that in the above; that both Kerry and #3 are headed to the middle of the river. I.e. TOWARD EACH OTHER. Then read how Kerry describes the rescue of Rassmann:

"I suddenly heard the yell of 'man overboard' and looked back to see the bullets splashing in the water beside him...We turned around ... and then charged the several hundred yards back into the ambush where Jim was...."

How could Rassmann be several hundred yards away, if it happened as described in Kerry's journal?

(20) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:52:14 PM | Permalink

Patrick, this gets me too.

"Someone on the fantail must have noticed Jim swimming in back of us, ducking against the fire that was trying to pick him off because I suddenly heard the yell of 'man overboard' and looked back to see the bullets splashing in the water beside him," Kerry reported. "We turned around with the engines screaming against each other -- one full astern, the other full forward -- and then charged the several hundred yards back into the ambush where Jim was trying to find some cover.

Being that far away, Kerry would have been far worse than derelict if it took him and/or is creww several hundred yards to notice a man overboard. That is a BIG DEAL.

That's another reason I was convinced Rassmann was always on a different boat, and it was most likely #3.

Note also: Your comment re: boats 35 and 51 from ToD. In the History Net piece, Thurlow is driving boat #53. Transposed digits? But that would make it MORE not less complicated.

A computer animation re-enactment of this scene could be very interesting indeed.

(21) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:53:39 PM | Permalink

Beldar, this was for you:

Note also: Your comment re: boats 35 and 51 from ToD. In the History Net piece, Thurlow is driving boat #53. Transposed digits? But that would make it MORE not less complicated.

(22) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 4:54:46 PM | Permalink

Another thing about the comparisons we're doing here; this is exactly what the TV shows ought to be doing (but are not). And with graphics.

If they won't, then John O'Neill ought to get himself a magnetic board, five toy boats, and 3 toy sailors, and perform the demo himself. Because that's the only way to show what happened...and what couldn't have happened.

(23) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 5:18:04 PM | Permalink


just think of the combinations and permutations

(24) Concerned made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 7:05:57 PM | Permalink

Jim --

I noticed above that you said the Rassmann PH was mentioned on Kerry's Spot Report. From reading eleswhere, I thought that Rassmann was not on that report. Now I cannot find the correct document to double check. Can you post a link to a document that confirms this? Thanks.

-- Concerned

(25) Reg made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 7:11:21 PM | Permalink

This eulogy does deserve more attention. Here's something at least I had previously overlooked. Let's review the eulogy:

Kerry begins by acknowledging Belodeau's family and, "...and to his brothers from Vietnam— particularly Del Sandusky from Illinois and Gene Thorsen from Iowa—his crewman on PCF 94..."

Ok, nothing surprising here. Nice that Sandusky and Thorsen join Kerry to say a final good-bye.

Kerry then goes on to recount Belodeau's Vietnam highlights. After talking about a pre-PCF94 heroic mission, Kerry talks about how they personally got along. Kerry then turns to PCF-94's combat highlights. Kerry recounts the 13 March incident and then the "silver star" Feb mission.

Again, nothing surprising here. Kerry is obviously proud to have served with Belodeau and wants to describe to the audience the significance and the courage in Belodeau's Vietnam service and sacrifice.

And then Kerry turns to Belodeau's third and final PCF-94 mission highlight. I quote in full:

I cannot adequately convey or describe to you the measure of this man at war—standing in his peak tank in the bow, screaming up a river in the dead of night, no moon, 50 yards from Cambodia literally bouncing off the river bank, waiting for a mine to go off or a rocket to explode—and always steady, always dependable, always there for the rest of the crew.

Now on the surface there is nothing unusual in this statement. Again, it shows Belodeau and PCF-94 in a positive light operating in a dangerous environment i.e. "50 yards from Cambodia...". All in all a typical eulogy. When one dies the highlights of ones life hopefully are recounted by ones friends.

But there is something strange in this last statement.Kerry's campaign says Kerry and his PCF,"...on one occasion crossed into Cambodia at the request of members of a special operations group operating out of Ha Tien." And in the past Kerry has recounted additional details such as being 5 miles deep in Cambodian, running arms to anti-communist Cambodian forces, and running CIA operatives into Cambodia to search for enemy enclaves.

Why did Kerry downplay the courage of his PCF and Belodeau in particular? They were not just "50 yards from Cambodia..." they were deep into Cambodian terroritory on a special top-secret mission.

Why doesn't Kerry tell the rest of this undeniably interesting tale? Why downplay Belodeau's courage and bravery especially in front of his fellow crewmates Del Sandusky and Gene Thorsen sitting right there in the church?

Why would someone do such a thing?

(26) recon made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 8:22:51 PM | Permalink

Simple, Reg.

If he HAD been there, none of them would be here today.

None of those people taken in that area ever came back or were released.

Check it out.

(27) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 8:31:30 PM | Permalink


That was General Order #350 from HQ, 5th Special Forces Group, authorizing the PH for 20 or so 5th SF personnel, dtd. approx. 2 weeks after the action in question and it is actually posted as a .pdf document on the John Kerry website.

Unfortunately, SSN's were routinely used by the services for identification purposes but today they could be used for identity theft.

Jim Geraghty at NRO Kerry Spot (I think) wisely decided to pull that link so as to not risk that disclosure without tailoring the document ONLY to omit just the portion which could be abused. I think he plans to put up a version which has SSN's digitally whited out. His comments to that effect should be easily found in this afternoon's postings and the revised version could be up soon.

I have the other link for Kerry's site on my office system.

(28) jim made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 8:49:49 PM | Permalink

Concerned, here's the comment:

UPDATE: I'm temporarily pulling the link to the document, since it appears to have Social Security numbers on it. I'll get one of NRO's technically-savvy folks to black 'em out, and then it will return. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I don't want any identity crooks doing something rotten to a Purple Heart winner.

update to: [08/26 01:52 PM] posting

(29) Concerned made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 12:58:27 AM | Permalink

Jim --

Thanks for the tip about the Kelly Spot posting (I know a bit about it *wink*). What I had not seen anywhere before was reference to Rassmann being injured. From my (and other's) previous readings of the March 13th Spot Report, I only saw Thurlow and Lambert listed in Box 25. Perhaps I am reading the report wrong? Thanks for your help.

-- Concerned

(30) Pierre Legrand made the following comment | Aug 27, 2004 4:34:16 PM | Permalink

Probably been mentioned already but this puts paid to the story that Kerry got his wound from the Mine doesnt it? Another Purple Heart bites the dust? Maybe we can tell Kerry that after he is finished serving the Navy he can run for President again?


(31) jim made the following comment | Aug 28, 2004 5:08:42 PM | Permalink


It was essential that Kerry either be wounded by the mine or under fire AND require medical treatment.

All told, the 3rd PH fails miserably, perhaps worse than first, because so many eyewitnesses were involved.

(32) Curtis O made the following comment | Oct 1, 2004 2:18:25 PM | Permalink

Kerry will not release his records - he won't sign Form 180 because doing so simply isn't in his best interests. He expects he'll be covered now, anyway, by a media largely dismissive of the Swift Boat Veterans' claims in their opening volley and them now saying,"Old stuff, already covered." Kerry expects to ride this one out. The investigative work on these pages is terrific and I'm grateful for the efforts of all involved.

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