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Wed, 9 May 2001 11:13:40 -0400 (EDT)
Date: Wed, 9 May 2001
Subject: Mail From Hack, 2001-05-09
VIETNAM: FRONT AND CENTER AGAIN
by DAVID H. HACKWORTH
Mayday. Mayday. Mayday. The press savaging of ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey has my como
gear on overload, near meltdown.
Vets from Normandy to Mogadishu are outraged. Many see the media bashing as
a napalm strike on all who've served this country. From pilots who dropped
firebombs on Tokyo and Dresden to the Marine who tossed a grenade in a Korean
house, then discovered a family was hiding behind the enemy sniper; to a
grunt on ambush in Vietnam whose claymore mine killed a mother and her babies
after curfew in a free-fire zone; to a Ranger in Somalia who shot women
carrying ammo for the guerrillas trying to kill him.
War is a horror, an obscenity -- and too often, our press corps is clueless
about the beast. The "60 Minutes II" piece on Kerrey seemed more a
persecution than a responsible presentation, while Dan Rather came off more
judge than reporter.
And were the props rigged?
Marine Vietnam vet Harvey Britt thinks so:
"The village itself struck me as having been prepped ahead of time. The old
woman's teeth were pearly white. How many sets of 62-year-old white teeth did
anyone ever see on a Vietnamese woman that far out in Indian Country?
"The woman goes from seeing all the killings to not seeing them. She says
nobody was killed inside the first hooch, but even Kerrey's team-member
accuser says all the killings took place inside that hooch. Somebody is lying
or talking about different events.
"The village was freshly swept or watered down. Everything was neatly
"Then they showed the gravestones. Weeds cut and grass pulled back from the
graves ... new red and yellow paint. Fresh, new children's cement stones, or
at least freshly whitewashed. Whitewash spilled all over the area around all
five graves and no other graves anywhere close."
Was the village made-for-TV? Was the white-toothed witness a communist
ringer? Was the story just one more go-for-the-gold during a ratings crunch?
"Get Kerrey" vs. "Boot Camp"?
Britt sums up the CBS report for a lot of us who've killed in battle, and
especially those who fought in Vietnam, where the enemy struck from the
shadows in all sizes and sexes: "Kerrey is a Democrat. I am a Republican.
Kerrey has a lot to lose. I don't. We were both in a war neither one of us
wanted to be in. And the memories are bad enough without adding Hollywood, or
TV drama, intrigue and outright lies."
Was the coverage of this incident -- authored primarily by those who've
never dropped a bomb or squeezed a trigger -- politically motivated to knock
Kerrey out of a shot at the White House?
Or was it just one more slam from serial military bashers who see everyone
who served or now serves our country as jackbooted Nazis?
Or were reporters like Rather dialing back to prove yet again how righteous
and right-on they were when they told us in the '60s that Vietnam was a bad
war? Trust me, Dan, the boys who stood tall and answered our country's call
instead of doing Canada, college or the National Guard knew just how bad it
My gut says the Vietnam vets aren't going to take it anymore, and the
backlash I'm seeing is the sharp edge of a mighty sword. They're no longer
voiceless kids in their early 20s who want to forget the horror of Vietnam
and get on with their shattered lives. They're now in their prime, vital
members of their communities who are sick and tired of being called
baby-killers and being vilified by a relentless, reckless media. And being
ignored by an ungrateful nation.
Hopefully, the Kerrey beat-up that's brought Vietnam front and center again
will help more Americans to finally figure out who to blame. After all, it
wasn't the Kerreys who got us into that undeclared war, it was the
When the next war blows in the wind, let's pray that those baby boomers who
paid the price in the '60s and '70s protect their precious kids better than
the Greatest Generation. And that they don't allow them to be flung into
senseless killing fields by politicos who are either not tuned in or have
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