The myth that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry volunteered for swift boat duty in Vietnam knowing it was particularly dangerous continues to spread despite clear evidence to the contrary.
As we have written before, Kerry actually volunteered at a time when swift boats were engaged in relatively safe coastal patrols. They were redeployed to the rivers of Vietnam -- a far more risky mission -- after Kerry's decision. Kerry himself has admitted as much, writing in 1986 that "When I signed up for the swift boats, they had very little to do with the war. They were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I was going to be doing."
Yet Kerry's campaign website, vice presidential nominee John Edwards and former president Bill Clinton have all suggested Kerry knew the risks. As Edwards put it, "He volunteered to go to Vietnam and to captain a swift boat, one of the most dangerous duties you could have."
Kerry's campaign continues to encourage this misperception. Spokesman Tad Devine said on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" on August 18 that Kerry "volunteered to serve on one of the most dangerous assignments in Vietnam, on a swift boat." And on August 20 on Fox News Channel's "The Big Story with John Gibson," he told guest host Andrew Napolitano virtually the same thing....
There is much debate about and confusion over Kerry's war record, but on this issue, the facts are especially clear. The media should start getting them straight and holding Kerry's campaign to the same standard.