I'm With Sen. McCain
Readers Curl, Mattocks and Sutley have written thoughtful letters referencing "Swift Boat Veterans" of the Vietnam War. One claims I "denigrate these combat veterans." I suggest he carefully reread my commentary.
As a former Navy man, I've no doubt they were particularly brave under fire and earned the many decorations they were accorded by the Navy Department. I would never question their legitimacy.
Like McCarthyism, "swiftboating" is now part of America's political jargon. Wikipedia defines it: "An ad hominem attack against a public figure, coordinated by an independent or pseudo-independent group, usually resulting in a benefit to an established political force."
The commentary concludes: Swiftboating is now deemed "mostly as a pejorative" phrase. It adds that "although many of the charges (against John Kerry) were unverifiable they were disseminated widely, leading to swiftboating's reputation as a controversial but effective form of smear campaign."
The Swift Boat Sailors Association, Inc. (SBSA) in Jacksonville, Fla., is not associated with the political action group known as Swiftboaters for Truth. SBSA does not stoop to political assassination campaigns, but instead promotes honorable service to America performed by former Swift Boat sailors on the Mekong Delta.
SBSA is made up of thousands of enlisted men and officers who operated PCFs, "Patrol Craft Fast" from 1965 until 1973. They were engaged in extremely hazardous duty disrupting enemy supply operations, suffering many casualties. Their Web site "disclaims any express or implied endorsement or opposition to any candidate for political office," thereby distancing them from highly partisan Swiftboaters for Truth.
I stand on this issue with Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), a former Navy flyer and five-year POW, who said of the Swiftboaters' deceptive advertisements, "I deplore this kind of politicsthe ads are dishonest and dishonorable."
Paul R. Dunn
Former YN3, USN
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