August 31, 2004
Senator John Kerry
901 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Dear Senator Kerry:
As you prepare for your address before the American Legion in Nashville,
Tennessee, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth encourages you to use this
opportunity to clarify your actions in Vietnam and your statements about
your fellow Veterans and shipmates when you returned home. Since you have
made your four-month tour in Vietnam the centerpiece of your campaign, we
respectfully insist that you be truthful. The public is owed a full and
honest accounting of your actions. Veterans are owed an apology from you
and an acknowledgement that there was no basis in fact for the accusations
you made against them.
We urge you to:
1. Apologize for your conduct once you returned from Vietnam. Your
exaggerated testimony before the US Senate; the blanket indictment of your
fellow veterans; throwing away medals and ribbons; all of these actions
dishonored America and the armed forces. Your rhetoric and actions were not
only wrong, they aided the enemy and brought great pain to POW's, veterans
and their families.
2. Clarify the conflicting accounts involving the Bay Hap River incident of
March 13, 1969 (Bronze Star and 3rd Purple Heart). You have now described
three different versions of this incident. In the first version of this
incident presented during the Democrat National Convention, you stated: "No
man left behind," suggesting to the American people that you alone stayed on
the river to rescue Mr. Rassmann. Later, when forced to acknowledge
conflicting eyewitness testimony from fellow swift boat veterans, you said
that your boat left the scene to return moments later to retrieve Jim
Rassmann from the water. Yet, in another version of the same incident
discovered in the Congressional Record, you reported that your boat struck a
mine and Rassmann fell off the boat. Mr. Kerry, please explain to your
fellow veterans and the American people which version is the truth.
3. Affirm that the injuries for which you received your purple hearts never
required any medical treatment beyond perhaps a bandage and that, in all
instances, these injuries were self-inflicted and came from your own weapon.
Further, that if any of these purple hearts were falsely awarded, that you
would not have been eligible to leave Vietnam after serving only four
4. Acknowledge what your own biographer is now saying, that the Christmas
in Cambodia claim is "obviously wrong,” that you were never in Cambodia over
Christmas or any other time during your brief, four-month tour in Vietnam
and that your statements before the United States Senate in 1986 were false.
If you undertake these steps we will be satisfied that the American public
has been sufficiently apprised as to these aspects of your career, and we
will discontinue the media advertisements you have sought so fervently to
Please know that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are eager to close our own
personal chapters on Vietnam and instead focus on the war we're currently
fighting—the ongoing war on terrorism. In the absence of full public
disclosure and a public apology, we will continue efforts to carry our
message to an ever-expanding base of grassroots supporters.
Senator Kerry, we want to get Vietnam behind us. But, we can only do so if
the truth is told.
We respectfully await your reply.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth