Jim Rassmann, the soldier famous for having been rescued by John Kerry, has joined the throng of those speaking out against those who are critical of the four month stint in Vietnam that Kerry has made the centerpiece of his campaign for the presidency. There is a very disturbing pattern becoming evident. Early on in the primaries the Kerry campaign asserted that those who did not serve had no place questioning one who had. Now that the questions are being raised not only by those who served, but by those who served with Kerry it would seem that they have no right to question either.
Rassmann tells a very riveting story of his rescue by Kerry:
While returning from a SEA LORDS operation along the Bay Hap River, a mine detonated under another swift boat. Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river, and a second explosion followed moments later. The second blast blew me off John’s swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river. Fearing that the other boats would run me over, I swam to the bottom of the river and stayed there as long as I could hold my breath.
When I surfaced, all the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks. To avoid the incoming fire, I repeatedly swam under water as long as I could hold my breath, attempting to make it to the north bank of the river. I thought I would die right there. The odds were against me avoiding the incoming fire and, even if I made it out of the river, I thought I’d be captured and executed. Kerry must have seen me in the water and directed his driver, Del Sandusky, to turn the boat around. Kerry’s boat ran up to me in the water, bow on, and I was able to climb up a cargo net to the lip of the deck. But, because I was nearly upside down, I couldn’t make it over the edge of the deck. This left me hanging out in the open, a perfect target. John, already wounded by the explosion that threw me off his boat, came out onto the bow, exposing himself to the fire directed at us from the jungle, and pulled me aboard
This story of course directly contradicts the accounts of other witnesses:
As recounted in the affidavits of Van Odell (Exhibit 6), Jack Chenoweth (Exhibit 7), and Larry Thurlow (Exhibit 10) (and verified by every other officer present and many others), a mine went off under PCF 3 — some yards from Kerry’s boat. The force of the explosion disabled PCF 3 and knocked several sailors, dazed, into the water. All boats, except one, closed to rescue the sailors and defend the disabled boat. That boat — Kerry’s boat — fled the scene. After a short period, it was evident to all on the scene that there was no additional hostile fire. Thurlow began the daring rescue of disabled PCF 3, while Chenoweth began to pluck dazed survivors of PCF 3 from the water. Midway through the process, after it was apparent that there was no hostile fire, Kerry finally returned, picking up Rassman who was only a few yards from Chenoweth’s boat which was also going to pick Rassman up.
I doubt that it is uncommon for different soldiers to have different memories of the same incident, but in this case it would seem that they are talking about different days. Is it possible that Kerry rescued Rasmann more than once? This is the point where any rational person would think to call upon Kerry to file the paperwork with the Department of Defense and release his entire military record for public scrutiny as the only way to resolve the issue. But Kerry isn’t going to do that, so I’m not going to waste my time asking for it.
Rassmann also brings up the obligatory and utterly false Kerry campaign talking point that the people who are questioning his service “did not serve with Kerry in Vietnam.” This is the very height of Clintonesque double-speak. If you narrow the definition of “serve” to those who were ever actually on the boat with Kerry during his very brief tour of duty, then yes they did not serve with Kerry. If you use a more realistic definition that includes those who were in the same unit, the guys on the boat a few yards from Kerry’s, then they did serve with him. In fact, in Rassmann’s account of the events they were there and taking the same fire.
Rassmann has a clear difficulty with the truth. The organization he is attacking is Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Yet Rassmann seems to be unable to bring himself to type the word, renaming the group Swift Boat Veterans for Bush. Is it that he and his masters in the Kerry Campaign are afraid of the truth? Or could it be that deep down Rassmann believes Bush and Truth are synonymous?
Rassmann concludes by attempting to smear the members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth as paid stooges of “Texas Republican donors with close ties to George W. Bush and Karl Rove” and not much more than a band of liars:
Their new charges are false; their stories are fabricated, made up by people who did not serve with Kerry in Vietnam. They insult and defame all of us who served in Vietnam.
Which he follows by noting:
Americans are tired of smear campaigns against those who volunteered to wear the uniform. Swift Boat Veterans for Bush should hang their heads in shame.
Yes, Mr Rassmann we are growing tired of it. So shame on you.