IN SBV REALLY SERVED "WITH" JOHN KERRY?
one member of SBV actually served with John Kerry on Kerry's boat and
that is Steve Gardner.
neither he NOR any other member of the so-called "Swift Boat
Veterans for Truth" (SBV) served with John Kerry during the
incidents that led to KERRY'S PURPLE HEARTS, BRONZE STAR AND SILVER
remaining members either never served in Vietnam when Kerry was there
(a notable example is their key spokesman and Nixon-patsy John
O'Neill) or served in other boats or other positions that would
provide them little or no first hand knowledge about Kerry's service.
those who actually served under/with Kerry in his boat, 11 out of 12
fully support Kerry!
According to Naval records Kerry served
"TWO tours of duty in Vietnam. He was on active
duty for three years and 10 months (NOT "4 months")
and was honorably discharged."
Stone, USA Today
via reader RA:
Hoffmann, none of the 13 men in the TV ad served on either of the
two swift boats — small, lightly armed patrol craft — that Kerry
commanded. Of the group's 254 members — out of 3,500 swift boat
sailors who served in Vietnam — only one served under Kerry. The
rest who did serve on Kerry's boats back his record.
of Kerry's critics commanded boats that went out on missions with
Kerry. Others never met him. Most are still angry about Kerry's
leadership of Vietnam Veterans Against the War after he returned
While the group's members are
veterans of the Vietnam War and may have served at the same time as
Kerry or even near Kerry, Steve Gardner is the only one of
the men attacking Kerry to have actually served on the swift boats
that Kerry commanded. Of those veterans who served under Kerry, the
Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign has pointed out that 11 of the 12 support
him, many of whom appeared with Kerry in Boston at the Democratic
National Convention, according to an August 4 Scripps Howard News
Stephen M. Gardner, according
to Time, served with Kerry on Patrol Craft Fast 44 (PCF
Kerry earned both his Silver Star and his Bronze Star while
serving as the commander of .
Therefore Gardner provides no direct contradiction for any of
Kerry's heroism claims, so who cares what he thinks about Kerry's
personality? In fact, Gardner even admits Kerry "changed"
when he was no longer commanding PCF-44!
is Steve Gardner?
Boat Vet "eyewitness" was not present for events leading
to Kerry's medals or Purple Hearts
Gardner has been touted by the anti-Kerry group Swift
Boat Veterans for Truth and by conservative hosts as a
singularly authoritative critic with firsthand knowledge of Senator
John Kerry's (D-MA) record in Vietnam because Gardner -- unlike all
the other members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- actually
served on a swift boat that Kerry commanded. Gardner has questioned
Kerry's integrity; has claimed personal knowledge of the
circumstances leading to Kerry's first Purple Heart; and has spoken
with authority about the events leading to Kerry's Bronze Star.
Fellow anti-Kerry Swift Boat Vets member Larry
Thurlow has also cited Gardner as eyewitness support for his
accusations against Kerry and against Kerry's first Purple Heart.
Yet while Gardner did serve
as a gunner under Kerry's command on PCF (Patrol Craft Fast) 44,
he has admitted that he -- just like the rest of the Swift Boat
Veterans for Truth claiming that Kerry is lying about his medals --
was not present for the incidents leading to Kerry's receipt of any
medals or any of Kerry's three Purple Hearts.
Gardner admitted that
"he was not on the boat with Kerry during the incidents for
which Kerry got his medals," reported
The Columbus Dispatch on August 6. And as a guest on Michael
Savage's radio show, Savage Nation, on August 2, Gardner
said that of Kerry's three Purple Hearts, he could only attest to
the first; Gardner later admitted to Savage that he was "not on
the boat with him [Kerry]" when that injury occurred.
Yet in repeated media
appearances, conservative hosts have presented Gardner as an
eyewitness to key Kerry events. And in at least two interviews,
Gardner has falsely claimed that he was present for the incidents
leading to Kerry's receipt of awards. On Savage Nation on
August 2, Savage introduced Gardner as an "expert coming on
this show eventually to talk about the phony John Kerry and his
swift boat." On FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor
on August 9, host Bill
O'Reilly identified Gardner as "the only one who served
directly under him of the 3,500 ... an eyewitness." As a guest
on the August 20 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host
and former U.S. Representative Joe
Scarborough (R-FL) introduced Gardner as "a vet who
actually served on John Kerry's swift boat" who would provide
"a firsthand account of what really happened in Vietnam."
On that same edition of Scarborough Country, MSNBC political
Buchanan touted Gardner as the "first member who actually
served aboard John Kerry's boat to speak since this controversy
erupted," before he asked Gardner, "[W]ho is telling the
In an apparent
attempt to substantiate his status as an eyewitness to key Kerry
events, Gardner claimed on Scarborough Country, "[T]hat
boat never left the dock that I wasn't aboard it with John Kerry,
never. I was with that boat everywhere we went." Gardner went
on to make assertions regarding the events
that occurred on March 13, 1969, involving Kerry's rescue of Jim
Rassmann, for which Kerry received the Bronze Star. Gardner
claimed to know that Kerry fled the scene on the river that day
while the other three boats stayed and that Kerry then "turned
around and came all the way back to pick up Mr. Rassmann that he had
thrown off his boat when he took off, when he fled down the
canal." But later in the show, Gardner admitted to not being
present that day. When Scarborough attempted to revisit the
"March 13, 1969 incident," Gardner said, "I'm not
going to deal with that. Because I wasn't there."
On the August 16
edition of MSNBC's Hardball
with Chris Matthews, Thurlow cited Gardner to substantiate
his claim that Kerry's first Purple Heart "was fabricated and
wasn't based on any factuality at all." According to Thurlow,
Gardner said "that he [Kerry] received an injury due to a
mistake he made when he fired an M-79 close aboard and was hit by
his own shrapnel" and that "Kerry applied for a Purple
Heart that he did not merit."
On the August 2
broadcast of Savage Nation, Gardner himself claimed that all
of the wounds for which Kerry received Purple Hearts "were
superficial wounds, and I mean very superficial, scratches. The very
first one is the only one that I can actually attest to because I
was there when that wound happened." But Gardner was not there
when Kerry sustained that wound; as noted above, Gardner went on to
admit: "I was not on the boat with him but I -- in the next
three days following that, I was with him on the boat going to take
our new position up down there on the seaward operations."
In addition, on the
August 16 edition of the nationally
syndicated radio show The
Glenn Beck Program, Gardner falsely
claimed that three of Kerry's other crewmates -- James Wasser,
Drew Whitlow, and Steven Hatch -- "felt the same way that I
felt about John Kerry" before they joined the Kerry campaign.
As Media Matters for America previously reported,
comments from Wasser in a March 9 article
in TIME magazine written by Kerry biographer Douglas
Brinkley directly contradict Gardner's claim.