Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Another perspective on the medal dilemma

Troubling what this retired admiral has to say....Of all of the statements I have read on this subject, this one rings closer
to the truth than many others. I just want to forget about the medals and talk about Kerry's record in the Senate or his anti-war activities after Vietnam, but these things make it impossible....

Subject: An Admiral on Kerry

Here is a statement by the first hand, credible, witness to his
fraudulently claimed "Purple Heart Number One":
Purple Heart News
William Schachte speaks.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A new voice has been added to the debate over the
circumstances surrounding Sen. John Kerry's first Purple Heart.
William Schachte, who was a lieutenant in the Navy during Kerry's Vietnam tour - and who later rose to the rank of Rear Admiral - has released a statement describing the events of December 2-3, 1968, when Kerry received a minor shrapnel wound for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. What follows is Schachte's statement, in full.
Byron York
> > > ---------------------------
Statement of RADM William L. Schachte, Jr. USN (Ret.)
August 27, 2004

As was true of all "Swiftees," I volunteered to serve in Vietnam and
was assigned to Coastal Division 14 for a normal tour of duty. I was a Lieutenant serving as Operations Officer and second in command at Coastal Division 14 when Lieutenant (junior grade) John Kerry reported to us in mid-November, 1968. Lt. (jg) Kerry was an Officer-in-Charge (O-in-C) under training in preparing to be assigned as one of our Swift Boat O-in-C's.
At some point following President Johnson's announcement of the
suspension of bombing in North Vietnam in March 1968, we were directed to become more aggressive in seeking to find and destroy or disrupt the enemy in our operating area. As part of this effort, I conceived a new operation that became known as "Skimmer OPS." The concept was simple. A 15-foot Boston Whaler was sent into an area where, based on coordinated intelligence, North Vietnamese cadre and Viet Cong were expected to be meeting or where, for example, concentrations of enemy forces might be involved in the movement of arms or munitions. We were to draw fire and quickly get out of the area. This would allow more concentrated firepower to be brought against the enemy forces we had been able to identify.

These operations were carried out only in "hot" areas, and well away
from any villages or populated areas. A Swift Boat would tow the skimmer to the general area of operations, and the ambush team would then board the skimmer and proceed to the designated area of operations. The Swift Boat would be riding "shotgun" and standing off, occasionally out of sight, to provide fire support and long-range communications. The Skimmer was powered by an outboard motor, and we carried an FM radio, handheld flares, an M-60 machine gun with a bipod mount, and an M-16 mounted with a starlight scope. If the night was heavily overcast, we brought an M-14 mounted with an infrared scope. We also carried an M-79 single-shot grenade launcher. In addition to our combat gear and flak jackets, we
often carried .38-caliber pistols.

The operation consisted of allowing the skimmer to drift silently
along shorelines or riverbanks to look or listen for sounds of enemy
activity. If activity was identified, we would open fire with our automatic weapons, and if we received fire, we would depart the area as quickly as possible, leaving it to air support or mortar fire from a Swift Boat standing off at a distance to carry out an attack.

I commanded each of these Skimmer operations up to and including the
one on the night in question involving Lt. (jg) Kerry. On each of these operations, I was in the skimmer manning the M-60 machine gun. I took with me one other officer, and an enlisted man to operate the outboard motor. I wanted another officer because officers, when not on patrol, were briefed daily on the latest intelligence concerning our sector of operations and were therefore more familiar with the current intelligence. Additionally, at these daily briefings, officers debriefed on their patrol areas after returning to port.

On the night of December 2-3, we conducted one of these operations,
and Lt. (jg) Kerry accompanied me. Our call sign for that operation was "Batman". I have no independent recollection of the identity of the enlisted man, who was operating the outboard motor. Sometime during the early morning hours, I thought I detected some movement inland. At the time we were so close to land that we could hear water lapping on the shoreline. I fired a hand-held flare, and upon it bursting and illuminating the surrounding area, I thought I saw movement. I immediately opened fire with my M-60. It jammed after a brief burst. Lt. (jg) Kerry also opened fire with his M-16 on automatic, firing in the direction of my tracers. His weapon also jammed. As I was trying to clear my weapon, I heard the distinctive sound of the M-79 being fired and turned to see Lt. (jg) Kerry holding the M-79 from which he had just launched a round. We received no return fire of any kind nor were there any muzzle flashes from the beach. I directed the outboard motor operator to clear the area.

Upon returning to base, I informed my commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr.
Grant Hibbard, of the events, informing him of the details of the operation and that we had received no enemy fire. I did not file an "after action" report, as one was only required when there was hostile fire. Soon thereafter, Lt. (jg) Kerry requested that he be put in for a Purple Heart as a result of a small piece of shrapnel removed from his arm that he attributed to the just-completed mission. I advised Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard that I could not support the request because there was no hostile fire.

The shrapnel must have been a fragment from the M-79 that struck Lt.
(jg) Kerry, because he had fired the M-79 too close to our boat. Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard denied Lt. (jg) Kerry's request.

Lt. (jg) Kerry detached our division a few days later to be reassigned to another division. I departed Vietnam approximately three weeks later, and Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard followed shortly thereafter. It was not until years later that I was surprised to learn that Lt. (jg) Kerry had been awarded a Purple Heart for this night.

I did not see Lt. (jg) Kerry in person again for almost 20 years.
Sometime in 1988, while I was on Capitol Hill, I ran into him in the
basement of the Russell Senate Office Building. I was at that time a
Rear Admiral and in uniform. He was about 20 paces away, waiting to catch the underground subway. In a fairly loud voice I called out to him, "Hey, John." He turned, looked at me, came over and said, "Batman!" We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes, agreed to have lunch sometime in the future, and parted ways. We have not been together since that day.

In March of this year, I was contacted by one of my former swift boat
colleagues concerning Douglas Brinkley's book about Senator Kerry,
"Tour of Duty." I told him that I had not read it. He faxed me a copy of the pages relating to the action on the night of December 2-3, 1968. I was astonished by Senator Kerry's rendition of the facts of that night. Notably, Lt. (jg) Kerry had himself in charge of the operation, and I was not mentioned at all. He also claimed that he was wounded by hostile fire. None of this is accurate. I know, because I was not only in the boat, but I was in command of the mission. He was never more than several feet away from me at any time during the operation that night. It is inconceivable
that any commanding officer would put an officer in training, who had
been in country only a couple of weeks, in charge of such an ambush
operation. Had there been enemy action that night, there would have
been an after action report filed, which I would have been responsible for filing.

I have avoided talking to media about this issue for months. But,
because of the recent media attention, I felt I had to step up to recount my personal experiences concerning this incident.


*******
The term that seems to apply will have to wait until after the DOD investigation, but here it is.... a medal hunter. I have seen them before, in combat and in garrison.

1 Comments:

Blogger Kat said...

Redleg...

That's exactly what I thought as I read all of his own stories. particularly the ones that he told the Boston globe writer. He reminded me of a youngman I knew about 10 years ago who was in the Navy. He was in some sort of maintenance on USS Constellation, but it seemed he was always in trouble. He had one friend, my boyfriend at the time, who was also on the Constellation and was a Petty Officer, First Class, Hull specialist. He did welding on the ship. He was also part of the fire crew.

It seems the youngman's problem was that he was always telling people something different, something bigger. He would hear others' stories and start telling them as his own. Nobody liked him. I think my boyfriend felt sorry for him. He was always telling me the guy had nobody.

In one case, he told everyone that he was selected for SEAL training. You would have to have known the guy to know how improbable it was. He was tall, certainly, but he had no muscle tone. His chest was sort of sunken in. I also knew from my boyfriend that he was a discipline problem so I knew that he was the least likely for this selection.

At the time he began telling his story, my boyfriend had been sent to training school for 6 weeks in Norfolk in preparation for transfer to another duty station. He was unaware of the situation.

At first, I ignored his story and didn't say anything to my boyfriend. It was a bunch of bull and I figured the guy just lost his mind because his only friend was going away. (Did I mention he was a "beer scarfer"? That's what we called people that were too cheap to buy their own beer and would drink somebody else's if they sat it down and turned their backs for a moment.)

He disappeared for about two weeks and then showed up at our door (his girlfriend was living with us at the time as a roommate; we tried to warn her, but you know how that goes). He had a leg brace on that I recognized immediately as my boyfriend's from two months before when he tripped going down the stairs during a fire drill and pulled a ligament.

The "friend" began to tell us that he was injured during a practice operation with the SEALs jumping out of a helocopter. I knew he was full of crap because I watched all the military programs and knew the first few weeks were spent crawling, carrying water filled boats and doing all sorts of stamina testing programs meant to sort out the "weak" links.

I told him he was full of crap, too. He insisted and also insisted that he was on leave due to his injury. His girlfriend was young and naive and begged us to let him stay (otherwise, he bunked on the ship). What could we do? He kept trying to tell me his stories but I wouldn't listen. Told him that he should practice them more before he told anyone else. He acted more hurt than angry, but I thought he was an a-hole so I didn't care.

Three days later, we (my other roommate and I) were at a club. Another sailor we knew and who had come to our house for barbeques, asked if we had seen this particular guy. We told him yes, and he told us the guy was AWOL for two weeks and they were looking for him. If we saw him, could we tell him he needs to get back to the ship before he is classified as a deserter. I knew the guy was giving us a warning. I said nothing, but we immediately left and went back to the apartment. When we got in, I went to the back room and practically kicked the door in.

I was mad. I mean, I knew the guy was full of crap, but he was basically putting us in the position of aiding and abetting and a good portion of his unit had been to our place and knew the situation with his girlfriend. I was expecting the SPs any minute. When I told him, he acted all confused. SAid that something must be wrong with the paperwork. He would go on Monday (it was Saturday) and get it worked out.

I said, "NO! You will go tomorrow morning. T- can drive you if your leg is hurting (bullsh-t).

They got up the next morning. T-was acting angry that we would question her boyfriend. Me, I didn't give two hoots. I just did not want to be mixed up in this when I was dating another sailor (who I was considering marrying and did not want to have a smear on my name in connection to this guy). She drove him down and came back an hour later. I thought that was the end of the deal.

The guy calls at 5 pm and asks for our friend to pick him up from the base. I am completely shocked as I figured the guy would be in the brig or confined to ship or base. T- picked him up. He comes back and tells us that all is well and the paperwork is cleared. I am sure now that he is really off the wall.

Monday morning, I called another friend and asked him to put me in touch with another acquaintance from security, told him to call me at work. Get the return call Tuesday AM. Brief discussion. The guy did not turn himself in. He is still on the AWOL list. Trying to do myself and T- a favor, I asked if he could hold up disclosing our association and I would go talk to this guy again. He respected my boyfriend and said he would give me some time, but I should know that he is getting dangerously close to "deserter" status and the SPs would have to be notified soon.

Return home after work and mush head is there. I call him out on the deck and close the door. Inform him that I know he did not turn himself in and he must go tomorrow. He must take his stuff with him and not return. he could tell T- whatever, but he must be gone.

He proceeds to tell me that he did not go on the base, but waited until T- was gone and then walked away. He is afraid that the medical officer messed up his paperwork and he will be in trouble for something that is not his mistake. I told him that he could lay off the story and ditch the brace since I knew where it came from. He was sticking by his story of the injury and Navy doing him wrong. I told him, "Whatever, you just need to go get it straight. The longer you wait, the more trouble it will be."

Next morning, he takes his stuff while T- is crying and giving us soulful looks. I don't know what he told her and I didn't care. T- Takes him to the base. Once again, she did not watch him walk on (she did not have clearance to drive, the car tags were expired and they will not let you on base). I think the issue is resolved.

Three days later, we are at our favorite club again. T- stayed home as she was not feeling like partying she said. Our friend from security is there. He comes over and asks if we have seen "him". I am completely flaberghasted. No..he was dropped at the base Wednesday. No..he is still on the AWOL list and he now only has 7 days before "deserter". Crap! I tell him I haven't seen the guy and thought this was done, but, his girlfriend will know how to get hold of him. Security guy gives me a direct number. He is still trying to insure that our names stay out of the situation.

Drive home again, open the door and who is there? I am now suprememely pissed and ready to drag the little bastard down myself. My other roommate is wringing her hands because she feels sorry for T-. I am just worried that our friend will not be able to sit on this much longer and the SPs will be at our door. After all this, I am thinking we are going to get charged with aiding and abetting a deserter.

He proceeds to tell us that he is not AWOL, he reported and there must be something wrong still with the paperwork. He had Capt's Mast Monday morning and it would all be cleared up. I tell him he is full of sh-t while T- cries in the background. I ask him where he's been. He would have been confined to ship or base at the least until the Capt's Mast.

Finally, he tells T- that he was living out of his derelict truck for the last few days. I know where the truck is, but I say nothing. I tell him that this is the last straw. I would drive him in the AM to the gates myself and watch him check in. T- is insisting that she will do it. He says that there is no need. I tell him that he is to leave and never come back. He is no longer welcome there.

It was really kind of sad. I almost felt sorry for the guy. Almost. T- takes him to his truck and comes back. Goes to sleep crying. I pick up the phone and call our friend in security to tell him where the truck is and where they can pick "him" up. I didn't want to do it, but I knew that there was little choice. He had already put us in the stew and I knew T- was too tied up with him to make sure he did the right thing.

There was one other consideration. I knew if his status was "deserter" he would do time in prison, much less the brig and other punishments he would be subject to due to this long absence. This guy would not make it in prison.

They picked him up. He did 6 weeks in the brig. 2 months confined to ship. At this time, I had been informed by our security guy that, due to the slowness of government paperwork, his paychecks had not been stopped from automatic deposit during his AWOL period. They were automatically deposited and he had used them. Withdrawal of funds.

He is in a world of shit and no one could save him. He was dishonorably discharged shortly thereafter.

The sad part of this story was, had he just shut up and did his time, he only had 6 months left in the Navy at the time he went AWOL. When he got out, T- ran off with him to get married. They were married two years. She had twins. he couldn't keep a job. Could barely get one with "dishonorable" on the resume. They divorced and she is today raising two children by herself.

Nobody knows where he is.

This is just the last story in the long line of bullsh-t about this guy. He was a braggert and a liar and I recognize the same in this guy called Kerry. They make me sick.

6:11 PM  

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