John Kerry's service in Vietnam lasted 4 months and 12 days, beginning in November 1968 when he reported to Cam Ranh Bay for a month of training. His abbreviated combat tour ended shortly after he requested a transfer out of Vietnam on March 17, 1969, citing Navy instruction 1300.39 permitting personnel with three Purple Hearts to request reassignment. So far as we are able to determine, Kerry was the only Swift sailor ever to leave Vietnam without completing the standard one-year tour of duty, other than those who were seriously wounded or killed..
It is clear that at least one of Kerry's Purple Heart awards was the result of his own negligence, not enemy fire, and that Kerry went to unusual lengths to obtain the award after being turned down by his own commanding officer.
John Kerry has long insisted that using the three-injury loophole to leave combat early was his own idea, but Kerry's fellow Swift officer Thomas Wright, who served on occasion as the OIC (Officer in Charge) of Kerry's boat group, contradicts that claim. Wright reports that he "had a lot of trouble getting Kerry to follow orders," and that those who worked with Kerry found him "oriented towards his personal, rather than unit goals and objectives." He therefore requested that Kerry be removed from his boat group. After John Kerry qualified for his third Purple Heart, Thomas Wright and two fellow officers informed him of the obscure regulation, and told him to go home. Wright concluded, "We knew how the system worked and we didnít want him in Coastal Division 11."
Constructing a complete picture of Kerry's service is difficult due to gaps in the Naval records provided by the Kerry campaign. These gaps include missing and incomplete fitness reports, missing medical records and missing records related to his medal awards.
For this reason we call upon Senator Kerry to authorize complete access to all his military records by filing a standard Form 180, a simple two-page release form.
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth is in the process of researching John Kerry's time in Vietnam by conducting interviews with eyewitnesses to his activities, and we plan to add material to this section over the next several weeks as it becomes available. We will report the true circumstances of Kerry's medal awards and injuries, describe other controversial missions, and provide in-depth analysis of his fitness reports.
1st Purple Heart: December 2, 1968
2nd Purple Heart: February 20, 1969
Silver Star: February 28, 1969
Bronze Star / 3rd Purple Heart: March 13, 1969
Christmas in Cambodia: December 25, 1968
Sampan Incident: January 20, 1969.
Analysis of John Kerry's Fitness Reports