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Patricia Johnson: The Wrong War That Won't Go Away

The Wrong War That Won't Go Away

By Patricia L Johnson

Where do you draw the line between what is politically correct and what is in bad taste when it comes to a veteran’s military record?

When former Senator Bob Dole questions the legitimacy of Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry’s three Purple Hearts (click here), he goes over the line. The following comments by Senator Dole appear to indicate that he doesn’t even know the criteria used for awarding a Purple Heart.

"I respect his record, but three Purple Hearts - he never bled that I know of," Dole told CNN's "Late Edition." "They were all superficial wounds."

"As far as I know, he never spent one day in the hospital, I don't think he draws any disability pay. He doesn't have any disability. And he's boasting about three Purple Hearts, when you think of some of the people who really got shot up in Vietnam."

Senator Kerry received the following awards as indicated on his DD214 and DD215, discharge summaries (click here)

National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with 4 bronze stars
Vietnam Campaign Ribbon
Bronze Star with Combat “V”
Silver Star with Combat “V”
Combat Action Ribbon
Purple Heart (3 Awards)
Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
Navy Unit Citation Ribbon
Republic of Vietnam MUC Gallantry Cross Medal Color with Palm
Republic of Vietnam MUC Civil Action Medal Color with Palm

Eligibility for awarding a Purple Heart is not dependent upon how much blood is lost, how long you’re in the hospital, or whether or not you receive disability pay as suggested by Senator Dole.

A member of the U.S. military is eligible for award of the Purple Heart if they are “wounded or killed …” Kerry was wounded – and the formal definition of a wound in the U.S. military follows: (click here) for Department of the Navy Awards Manual or (click here) for Army Regulation 600-8-22 Military Awards.

1. c. Definition. A "wound" is defined as an injury to
any part of the body from an outside force or agent, sustained while in action as described in the eligibility requirements. A physical lesion is not required, provided the concussion or other form of injury received was a result of the action in which engaged.

Former Senator Dole further suggested that Senator Kerry should apologize to fellow Vietnam veterans for protesting while the war was still being fought.

The Vietnam conflict lasted from November 1, 1955 through May 15, 1975. During this period of time 58,209 soldiers were killed, while 1,845 are presumed dead but their remains have not been located. Another 153,303 were wounded according to the June 15, 2004 casualty report (click here)

When does Senator Dole think a war, or in this case a “conflict” should be protested? The fighting in Vietnam lasted 19 ½ years, just how long should a war last before the people in the country stand up and say enough?

And who better to protest what is happening than someone that’s been there? Should Kerry apologize to Vietnam vets for protesting during the war, or should Vietnam vets thank Kerry for helping to end the war; thereby saving lives?

All of us are entitled to our own political opinions, but how can Senator Dole support George W. Bush – a man whose military service to this country has been questioned over and over again, due to failure to report -- yet, criticize a member of the military who has been awarded not one, but a total of three Purple Hearts?

George W. Bush had a MOS of 1125D while in the ANG, which indicates that he was eligible to pilot a F-102 type aircraft. On August 1, 1972 1st. Lt. Bush was verbally suspended from flying. This verbal order was followed up with a written suspension on November 19, 1972 that read as follows: (click here)

"6. Verbal orders of the Comdr on 1 Aug 72 suspending 1st LT. GEORGE W. BUSH [service number blocked] ANGUS (Not on EAD), TX ANG, Hq 147 Ftr Gp, Ellington AFB, Houston TX, from flying status are confirmed, exigencies of the service having been such as to preclude the publication of competent written orders in advance. Reason for Suspension: Failure to accomplish annual medical examination. Off will comply with para 2-10, AFM 35-13. Authority: Para 2-29 m, AFM 35-13."

The Republicans and Democrats in this country need to pull their heads out of the sand. The upcoming election should not be about what happened 30+ years ago in the jungles or waterways, of Vietnam, with John Kerry, just as it shouldn’t be about what happened 30+ years ago with George Bush’s failure to report.

Both parties need to concentrate their efforts on what is happening in the world today, and what is happening in the world today is that more and more coalition soldiers are being killed or wounded.

Six weeks ago there were a total of 6,733 U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are now a total of 8,150 casualties [1,100 dead, 7,050 wounded] or an increase of 1,417 casualties over the six weeks.

Click for big version

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

While major political parties in the U.S. are arguing about what they did or didn’t do 30 years ago, our soldiers are dying, or being wounded at the rate of 30+ per day during the past six weeks.

The American public has 10 weeks to decide who they are going to choose to lead this country for the next four years. Leadership abilities should not be confused with heroism, or lack thereof and foreign policy should not consist of bullying other countries, or bribing coalition partners into following our path of destruction.

Our political arena should consist of more than a bunch of old men gossiping about their opinion of what should have happened 30 years ago.

There are issues in this country that need to be addressed prior to the election. Things like health care, jobs, immigration, deficits, taxes, education, crime and drugs, environment, international trade, guns, gay rights, and social security, just to name a few, so let’s quit wasting time and get to the issues that are important to all of us.


© 2004 Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson is a freelance writer and CEO of Articles and Answers. Please visit us online at

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