"Several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command….They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country." John Kerry April 1971
The Houston heat and humidity was back, but the roaring industrial fans placed around the Ice House floor could not drown out the smirk on Bubba’s face. I hadn’t seen him so happy since George Bush dropped 30,000 weapons of mass destruction on downtown Baghdad because Saddam was going to attack us with weapons of mass destruction he didn’t have. Bubba told me war hero Bob Dole had weighed in and asked Kerry to apologize for claiming our troops in Vietnam had committed war atrocities. Rather than rain on his parade, I complimented Bubba on at least getting to the nub of this entire Swift Boat matter. That it wasn’t about purple hearts or medals for bravery, but rather about the long festering political hatred directed at someone who told the truth about Vietnam.
Bubba went on about how everyone in Vietnam did not kill babies, and for Kerry to say everyone did was a lie, a smear, and unAmerican. I tried explaining that neither was it "everyone" or what Kerry said, but what he said he heard other Veterans say. That of course got nowhere. I then asked if he doubted that American war atrocities were prevalent or that officers condoned or looked the other way when it happened. That was skirted by general accusations of Vietcong war crimes. I explained My Lai to Bubba, how 300 unarmed women, pregnant women, old men, children and babies were lined up in ditches and shot to death. It was real, documented and the truth. And much like Abu Gharib today, the military tried to play it down blaming a few "out of control" enlisted men and women. My Lai, like Agu Ghaib was no aberration, it was the one they got caught at. Though war crimes on as large a scale as My Lai were by no means everyday occurrences, that is not the case with heads and ears being lopped off, civilians murdered, villages burned, and prisoners shot or thrown out of helicopters. It is the truth, and no one should every have to apologize for telling he truth.
Not a ripple in the Bubba Smirk! He went on to say how Bob Dole called Kerry’s wounds superficial and they didn’t bleed! I hit all the points; that superficial wounds get purple heats in combat, that Kerry has a piece of shrapnel in his leg, and saying none of Kerry’s wounds had bleed, Bob Dole tossed his credibility to the wind trying to save the sinking Ship of Bush. Nope, that had no impact either.
So I tried one last burst. I reminded Bubba that Kerry had volunteered for Vietnam, volunteered for combat, got three deserved or underserved Purple Hearts, one deserved or underserved Bronze Star, one deserved or underserved Silver Star, one serious or superficial piece of shrapnel in his leg and four months of combat duty MORE than George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz and his idol Rush Limbaugh put together.
Bubba laughed, all my arguments didn’t mean a thing because the Swift Boat ads, true or false, worked. Kerry is losing more and more veterans as the media reruns the ads. It looked like the centerpiece of Kerry’s campaign has been neutered by chickenhawks and cowards. Bubba was right, and I ate crow and gave him his day of glory.