The rood awakening



Mr. Rood's memoir, entitled "Anti-Kerry vets not there that day," deserves a respectful and careful reading from anyone interested in the SwiftVets vs. Kerry controversy. It provides context and some credible opinions that are unquestionably favorable to Sen. Kerry.

But neither it, nor the companion news article by Rood's Chicago Tribune colleague Tim Jones, directly contradicts the SwiftVets' principle allegations of fact.

To the contrary, for those who've paid close attention to what the SwiftVets have actually alleged, Mr. Rood's new memoir actually supports their main contentions regarding Kerry's fitness for the Silver Star, because they show that Kerry was not charging alone, through overwhelming enemy fire, into a dense concentration of the enemy when he hopped off PCF-94 that day.

That's not the way Mr. Rood's memoir will be spun by relieved Kerry supporters. ...


...O'Neill has never claimed to have any first-hand knowledge of the events that day. Rather, as I understand them, his and the SwiftVets' critiques have relied on the facts reported by other veterans who were present that day, including Sen. Kerry's own recollections as reported in various places, including not only newspaper accounts, but also Douglas Brinkley's authorized biography Tour of Duty and Michael Kranish et al.'s John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best.

Notwithstanding contrary portrayals by Sen. Kerry's supporters and the popular press, O'Neill and the SwiftVets have stressed repeatedly that their criticisms of Kerry, and their skepticism of his fitness for the Silver Star, do not depend on whether Kerry shot the fleeing VC soldier from the front or the back, or whether his rocket launcher was loaded or not, or whether he was a teenager or full-grown, or whether he was in a loin-cloth or a full set of combat body armor.


But overall, Mr. Rood's version is generally consistent with the factual claims previously asserted both by Kerry supporters and Kerry critics. It's a tale told — credibly enough — from yet another witness and yet another perspective, and I do not suggest that it be disregarded. But it's not new or revolutionary.

More to the point, it does not address the SwiftVets' main contention, which is that the Navy brass (including Captain George Elliott) who recommended young Kerry for his Silver Star were then under the impression — since dispelled by Kerry's own repeated telling of the story, plus that of other witnesses now including William B. Rood — that Kerry's valor was in charging ashore through overwhelming fire into a dense concentration of the enemy.


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