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A Record Questioned

Sunday, August 22, 2004; Page A19

Members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have challenged several aspects of John F. Kerry’s military record in addition to his account of the March 13, 1969, mission for which he was awarded the Bronze Star; Kerry’s campaign has vigorously defended his record. Among the events at issue:

Kerry’s First Purple Heart

Dec. 2 1968

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What Kerry has said:

On a predawn patrol, as he and other sailors were firing on suspected Vietcong, a "stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell," meaning he had taken a small piece of shrapnel.

What his challengers say:

Kerry took a tiny fragment of shrapnel when he fired an M-79 grenade too close to his boat, inflicting his own wound, which was trivial. Self-inflicted wounds are ineligible for Purple Hearts.

What available military records say:

A medical report on Kerry’s injury was signed by J.C. Carreon, not Louis Letson, the doctor who treated Kerry, according to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Letson says that Carreon, a corpsman, routinely drew up reports on his behalf.

Christmas in Cambodia

December 1968

What Kerry has said:

Over the years, he has repeatedly said he was illegally ordered into Cambodia during Christmas 1968. Last week, his campaign issued a statement saying he was in Cambodia but did not specify a date.

What his challengers say:

At the time, Kerry was stationed in an area about 50 miles from the Cambodian border, and he never entered that country then or at any other time during his service in Vietnam.

What available military records say:


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