On October 14, 1979, John Kerry described a remarkable event from his days as a Swift boat officer for the Boston Herald:
"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 being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon [sic] claimed there were no American troops was very real."
-- President Nixon, of course, did not assume office until January of 1969.
On March 27, 1986, during a speech opposing President Reagan's policy in Central America, Senator John Kerry had this to say:
"Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by the 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 -— seared -— in me, that says to me, before we send another generation into harm's way we have a responsibility in the U.S. Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible in order to avoid that kind of conflict." [see Congressional Record - Senate of March 27, 1986, page 3594]
And again, in a 1992 article by the Associated Press:
"But for Kerry, who spent six violent months [sic] commanding a patrol boat on the Mekong River, there's always been a ring of truth to allegations of abandoned Americans. By Christmas 1968, part of Kerry's patrol extended across the border of South Vietnam into Cambodia.
"We were told, `Just go up there and do your patrol. Everybody was over there (in Cambodia). Nobody thought twice about it," Kerry said. One of the missions, which Kerry, at the time, was ordered not to discuss, involved taking CIA operatives into Cambodia to search for enemy enclaves.
"I can remember wondering, `If you're going to go, what happens to you,"' Kerry said.
As recently as May of 2000, U.S. News and World Report stated that, "Sen. John Kerry made his first forays into Cambodia during the Vietnam War as a Navy lieutenant on clandestine missions to deliver weapons to anticommunist forces."
Interestingly, Kerry's Cambodian sojourn, though "seared" into his memory by 1986, somehow failed to rate a mention in Kerry's own contemporary journal.
In "Unfit for Command," authors John O'Neill and Dr. Jerome Corsi document the impossibility of Kerry's story:
Despite the dramatic memories of his Christmas in Cambodia, Kerry’s statements are complete lies. Kerry was never in Cambodia during Christmas 1968, or at all during the Vietnam War. In reality, during Christmas 1968, he was more than fifty miles away from Cambodia. Kerry was never ordered into Cambodia by anyone and would have been court-martialed had he gone there.
During Christmas 1968, Kerry was stationed at Coastal Division 13 in Cat Lo. Coastal Division 13’s patrol areas extended to Sa Dec, about fifty-five miles from the Cambodian border. Areas closer than fifty-five miles to the Cambodian border in the area of the Mekong River were patrolled by PBRs, a small river patrol craft, and not by Swift Boats. Preventing border crossings was considered so important at the time that an LCU (a large, mechanized landing craft) and several PBRs were stationed to ensure that no one could cross the border.
A large sign at the border prohibited entry. Tom Anderson, Commander of River Division 531, who was in charge of the PBRs, confirmed that there were no Swifts anywhere in the area and that they would have been stopped had they appeared.
All the living commanders in Kerry’s chain of command—Joe Streuhli (Commander of CosDiv 13), George Elliott (Commander of CosDiv 11), Adrian Lonsdale (Captain, USCG and Commander, Coastal Surveillance Center at An Thoi), Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (Commander, Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam, CTF 115), and Rear Admiral Art Price (Commander of River Patrol Force, CTF 116)—deny that Kerry was ever ordered to Cambodia. They indicate that Kerry would have been seriously disciplined or court-martialed had he gone there. At least three of the five crewmen on Kerry’s PCF 44 boat—Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch, and Steve Gardner—deny that they or their boat were ever in Cambodia. The remaining two crewmen declined to be interviewed for this book. Gardner, in particular, will never forget those days in late December when he was wounded on PCF 44, not in Cambodia, but many miles away in Vietnam.
As part of the supporting documentation given to station managers for our television ad, "Any Questions?" we provided this regarding John Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia":
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. 213-219. 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.
John Kerry was never shot at by Khmer Rouge and Cambodians. He never took CIA operatives into Cambodia to search for enemy enclaves. In fact, John Kerry's boat never came within 50 miles of Cambodia.
Last Updated Tuesday, September 21 2004 @ 08:14 AM PDT