Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



Back-up Purple Heart

Back-up: The Purple Heart Kerry was ashamed to apply for—until now

WASHINGTON (HENS) EXCLUSIVE--Senator John Kerry has recommended himself for a Purple Heart for a previously unreported injury received during his combat tour in Vietnam more than 35 years ago.

The new award recommendation is accompanied by a statement from Kerry describing how he suffered the injury as a result of enemy action and a report from his proctologist confirming the injury and describing its lingering consequences.

Kerry received three Purple Hearts and two valor awards during his four months as a captain of a “Swift boat” in Vietnam from December 1968 to April 1969.

The recommendation apparently was submitted as his campaign prepared to concede that Kerry’s most controversial Purple Heart--earliest in time but awarded third--was awarded for a slight wound Kerry gave himself with his own grenade.

Still qualified to leave early
Veterans from Kerry’s Vietnam unit have challenged his account of his Vietnam service and criticized his decision to leave Vietnam after receiving the third--now disavowed--Purple Heart. If the new Purple Heart is awarded, it would mean that Kerry still qualified for early departure from Vietnam.

Kerry claims the injury occurred during his last combat mission, on 13 March 1968. Kerry was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his actions later that day.

Kerry describes how he and some of his crew had gone ashore to retrieve the body of a “Nung” Vietnamese mercenary who had been killed by a booby trap. As Kerry, armed only with his favored M-79 grenade launcher and carrying a radio, and his crewmen were dragging the body, bundled in ponchos, back to their boat, they came under fire and had to jump into a ditch, where Kerry jammed his M-16’s muzzle into the mud. This matches published accounts by Kerry’s biographers. These versions continue with Kerry and his crew scrambling over a dike and carrying the corpse back to the boat through a mangrove swamp.

In the recommendation, Kerry reveals details left out of earlier accounts. As the fire fight raged about them, Kerry, carrying the corpse and further burdened with an M-16 rifle, an M-79 grenade launcher, an 81mm mortar, and his walkie-talkie radio, leapt over a dike into the mangrove swamp.

“As I vaulted over the dike and landed in the mud on the other side, I was overbalanced by the corpse on my shoulder,” Kerry writes in his statement. As he struggled to keep his feet, one foot slipped out from under him and he “did a ‘split’.” The extra weight forced his feet rapidly apart. As he hit the ground, he writes, he “felt a searing pain, sort of a ripping or tearing ‘down there’.”

Ironic thoughts in 'stinking ooze'
In a passage he says is taken from his wartime diary, Kerry relates that “As I sprawled in the stinking ooze, I thought how ironic it was that the shattered, blasted remains of what had once been a brave warrior had contributed to my own undoing, to the searing--but apparently non-lethal--rending of my own mortal flesh. It gave me a new perspective on life and its meaning and how we had to take our opportunities where we saw them. I saw then the falseness of all we had been told by president Bush, that the past was dead and just weighted us down.” When his crewmen came over the dike, he told them to pick up the dead mercenary but didn’t tell them why he was hobbling.

Kerry reports that the injury continued to cause him discomfort, especially “at certain times,” but explains that he was embarrassed to go to a Navy doctor for an examination. In any event, he was soon released from Vietnam duty and on his way back to the United States.

Back home in Boston, he soon saw his personal proctologist, Dr. Samuel Huntweis. Dr. Huntweis, supported the award recommenddation with a copy of his original examination notes and a description of how Kerry has coped with the long-term effects.

At the initial examination on 10 April 1969, Dr. Huntweis states that he noted “a trauma-induced injury ‘down there’.” The injury continues to cause Senator Kerry “difficulty.” Sometimes, the doctor told teld the award review board, “certain functions cannot be completed without digital manipulation.”

In Washington and on the campaign trail, initial responses to the reported recommendation have been marked by reticence and reluctance.

Rumsfeld's comments
Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was the most forthcoming. When questioned by reporters in a Wendy’s parking lot, he handed them a sheet of paper in which he subjected himself to a grueling grilling.
“Is this a terrible, horrifying, embarrassing violation of Senator Kerry’s privacy?"
“My goodness gracious, yes."
“Do you accept or reject the suggestion that this makes Senator Kerry look like a self-aggrandizing, fabulating twit?”
“I think that we can take that as a given.”

Mr. Rumsfeld said he didn't have time to explain what he meant by “fabulating,” saying that he would like to, but “not as much as Mrs. Rumsfeld likes to have her fries hot.”

Kerry campaign spokesman Mike Meehan hotly denied any knowledge of a recommendation for a new Purple Heart. He characterized such a submission--35 years after the fact--as “a little unusual”, but not “out of the ordinary.” Any such award would be, he said, just a “routine correction” of the record.

Meehan at first refused comment on Kerry’s alleged injury, but after persistent, pointed questioning by reporters, Meehan declared that he did not “think ‘digital manipulation’ necessarily means the Senator ‘has his finger up his butt on a daily basis’.”

Howling Ether News Service—When you can’t find it anywhere else, you can pull it out of the Howling Ether.



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