November 6, 2004
How the Swifties helped sink KerryBy John B. Dwyer
In the aftermath of this historic election we ought to examine the important role the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth played in defeating John Kerry; how and why they sank his campaign yacht.
John Kerry had made his Vietnam service as a Swiftboat commander the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. The men who knew him best could not and would not allow his lies and distortions about that service to go unchallenged. Appearing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 2004, retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffman announced the formation of the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth. The officer who commanded these men in Vietnam now led them again in a new mission: 'to counter the false war crimes charges that Kerry repeatedly made against Vietnam veterans who served in our units and elsewhere, and to accurately portray Kerry's brief tour as a junior grade lieutenant.' The Swifties also called for the release of all of Kerry's military and medical records. The now—famous letter, declaring their mission statement, was released at the same time, carrying 260 signatures.
Who were these men, this armada of honor, preparing to unleash their truth torpedoes? The were, they are, retired and former commanders and crewmen of Swiftboats — enginemen, gunner's mates, radarmen, bosun's mates, quartermasters, Ensigns, Lieutenants, junior grade and full Lieutenants who manned the 50' shallow—draft, aluminum PCFs, Patrol Craft, Fast that sailed into harm's way along the coasts, rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta.
Their most significant early action was launching the website, www.swiftvets.com on July 21. Packed with information and constant updates, press releases, articles, transcripts of interviews and the like, it became a powerful online voice. Perhaps most importantly, it was the repository of solid, documented, eyewitness—based facts rebutting the barrage of criticism that began almost immediately, as the Kerry campaign and its media allies assaulted the veracity and reliability of the Swifties.
In the lead boat sustaining that first media fusillade was multi—tour ex—Gunner's Mate, Steve Gardner. The mild—mannered Southerner encountered hostile fire from the big guns at Time and other media ambushers, but he was a man who had been there, done that, who had survived the impact of real bullets. He not only survived, he prevailed. The truth always does.
He would be followed by other Swifies: Van Odell, Larry Thurlow, Bob Elder and the rest, telling the straight, unvarnished facts of the matter to their interviewers.
The Swifties gained a huge, positive boost in those early months when Rush Limbaugh spent two consecutive days talking about them and voicing support for their efforts.
Then on August 4th they launched the first of a series of nine television ads that would have a growing and eventually, a cumulative, powerful impact, garnering further attention and support. The first was titled 'Any Questions.' The last one, 'Why?' produced in concert with their new allies, Vietnam POWs, appeared October 13.
On August 31 Swiftboat Veterans For Truth released their open letter to John Kerry 'Tell The Truth And We'll Stop The Ads.'
The Kerry campaign responded with a continuation of their intimidation tactics, by threatening television stations running the ads with legal action.
Publication of Unfit For Command was perhaps the signal event of the ongoing Swiftie effort. Principal author John E. O'Neill (with Jerome R. Corsi, PhD.), now a Houston attorney, served over a year as a Swiftboat commander, earning two Bronze Stars with 'V' device for Valor, among other decorations. The comprehensively documented book presents the case for the truth regarding Kerry's three Purple Hearts, Silver Star and Bronze Star. It presents for close examination Kerry's public, under oath slandering of Vietnam veterans, and reveals his cynical Vietnam Veterans Against The War activities and potentially illegal dalliance with communist Hanoi's representatives in Paris.
John O'Neill, who defeated Kerry during a 1971 debate on the Dick Cavett Show, was now thrust into the spotlight, where he suffered the ad hominem slings and arrows of a hostile media. He became the representative face and voice for his fellow Swifties, carrying with persevering patience and steadfast conviction their message of indomitable truth.
And many Americans supported what the Swifties were doing. They showed their appreciation by donating money to the cause. At a huge public rally in September the Swifties announced that they had received over $50,000 from individual contributors in all 50 states. By the election time, that total would $26 million.
Through it all, Adm. Hoffman and the armada of honor pressed forward, firing another accurate torpedo over Kerry's 'Christmas in Cambodia' canard, forcing his campaign crew to back off while it tried to repair the leak in the yacht.
That the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth were instrumental in President Bush's re—election there can be no doubt. As of this writing, they are considering their next mission, their website noting the possibility of Kerry's less than honorable discharge from the Navy.
Here is how O'Neill and Corsi summed it up in Unfit For Command:
'John Kerry might well continue as Senator, but as commander—in—chief he has, unfortunately, breached the trust to hold his band of brothers together. In the end, our objection to John Kerry is not his past; it is the future as predicted by his past.'
Thank God, America's future is now in the hands of President George W. Bush.
John B. Dwyer's May 13th American Thinker article 'Call sign: Boston Strangler' was one of the first investigative journalistic explorations of the reaction of his peers to John F. Kerry's Swiftboat service.