Dear John: One vet’s open letter to John Edwards

by on July 28th, 2004

Dear John,

After all you’ve been through in the past year, losing in the primaries and being unable to win reelection to your own Senate seat, I do hate to bring more uncertainty into your life; but I’ve noticed that since being named John Kerry’s new best buddy, your Two Americas stump speech and your new commercial now include a challenge to voters that goes something like this: “If you don’t think John Kerry is a leader, just ask the men who served with him in Vietnam. They’ll tell you he’s a leader,” or words to that effect.

Well, OK, John, why don’t we do just that? Let’s ask them.

At a press conference in Washington this past May, an organization called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of former sailors who served in Kerry’s unit in Vietnam, presented a letter to Kerry signed by more than 200 of his former shipmates calling on him to release his military records so that the truth about his abbreviated tour of duty, his spurious wounds and his undeserved medals could be revealed to the American public. Not surprisingly, this event and this organization were totally ignored by the major media, as they continue to be to this day.

Did you catch that press conference? No? Never heard anything about these ol’ boys at all huh, John? Well, listen up, Senator.

If you visit their website, or a sister site,, you’ll see some choice quotes from those fellows who served with your new best buddy. From Admiral Roy Hoffmann, his former commanding officer, come such phrases and characterizations as:

“Contempt for the military and authority….”

“Arrived in country with a strong anti Vietnam War bias and a self serving determination to build a foundation for his political future….”

“Aggressive, but vain and prone to impulsive judgment, often with disregard for specific tactical assignments….”

“A loose cannon….”

“Bugged out of Vietnam….”

and finally, “Not fit to command.”

I’ll bet you a Florida precinct that any good trial lawyer would consider someone of Admiral Hoffman’s stature an unimpeachable witness, wouldn’t you? Loose cannon? Bugged out? Not fit to command? I’m not causing you to have any second thoughts here, am I, John? Hmmm?

Now take a listen to retired Navy Captain, Charlie Plumly, who had Kerry,

“under my command for two or three specific operations before his rapid exit.“

Plumly is even less charitable to your new bud than the admiral. His quotes on Kerry’s service include these colorful expressions,

“Devious, self-absorbing, manipulative, disdain for authority, disruptive.”

And then he gives us this little jewel,

“But the most common phrase would have been requires constant supervision.”

Boy that’s a comforting thing to read on the resume of the guy who wants to control the world’s greatest nuclear arsenal, isn’t it? Makes it a little more understandable why your buddy was willing to swallow a Republican as his number two in command, doesn’t it, John? You do have to give him credit for knowing he needed a more experienced hand like McCain watching out for him. Sounds to me like what he really needs is Dick Cheney, hear me, John?

Then there’s Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, now deceased, Chief of Naval Operations at the time of Kerry’s service, who said,

“With Kerry’s large ambitions, his career in Vietnam will haunt him if he were ever on the national stage.”

Oh my, and just look at who’s up there on that stage with him, bringing up that career at every opportunity. Hey, John, as a trial lawyer you’ve got to know some good investigators. Why don’t you part with a few thou and check some of this out? I mean this could take the expression, “egg on your face” to a whole new dimension, know what I mean?

The Swiftvets website has several testimonials from others who served with your buddy and none are laudatory. On the contrary, they are replete with refutations of John Boy’s claims in his book, Tour of Duty, ranging from emotional denials of the war crimes Kerry depicts there to ridicule of his wearing that leather flight jacket on the campaign trail and claiming it brought him luck in Vietnam,

“No one wore such a jacket in 90+ heat.”

You sure you want to keep bringing this guy’s service record up in every speech, John? I know it’s easy for someone who never served to be a little overawed, but good grief, even a weenie liberal lawyer ought to be able to figure out you don’t wear leather jackets on jungle patrols, you know? And what’s with this flight jacket business anyway? What was John Boy flying over there? Sure as hell wasn’t a supersonic F-102 interceptor like George Bush, now was it?

But of course! Why didn’t I think of it? That jacket could explain the minor nature of his award-winning wounds; kept all that nasty flak and flying lead from really hurting him instead of just breaking the skin, you know? Guess that’s why he calls it his lucky jacket. But I got tell you, Man, speaking of breaking, I’m sitting here breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it. I mean, jungle fatigues were hot enough; but leather? With fleece lining? Whew, man, that’s hardcore!

Well, I guess I am going have to admit this, John. In this regard, you’re right; there are Two Americas: there’s the America that believes your buddy wore a fleece lined, leather aviators jacket in the jungle; the America that will mindlessly heed your impassioned challenge to listen to the bought and paid for endorsement of the half dozen or so enlisted crewmen your buddy has shanghaied into his campaign. Then there’s that other America, the one out there waiting for the media to let us hear the more than 200 voices of those who served well and honorably, both officers and enlisted, who are telling the truth about your good ol’ buddy. Somehow, some way, I believe, I pray, that will happen.

And even if it doesn’t, what those truth tellers are saying has relevance for you, John. Think about it; your oh-so-affectionate, backslapping partner bugged out on them and then libeled and slandered them viciously to serve his own political goals. So you might just want to consider this, Senator: if you guys lose in November there will be Two Americas all right. And you can bet your biggest contingency fee anyone Kerry can blame for costing him the goal of his life sure won’t be part of his America anymore. Talk about getting a “Dear John” letter.

Think, Johnnie Boy, think. Didn’t your ol’ Daddy ever teach you nuthin’ bout leopards and spots?

Russ Vaughn

327th Parachute Infantry Regiment

101st Airborne Division

Vietnam 65-66

Russ Vaughn