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DC09

US Navy Challenges Kerry Websiite Medals

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In the midst of the controversy between the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Kerry campaign representatives about Kerry's service in Vietnam, new questions have arisen.

The Kerry campaign has repeatedly stated that the official naval records prove the truth of Kerry's assertions about his service.

But the official records on Kerry's Web site only add to the confusion. The DD214 form, an official Defense Department document summarizing Kerry's military career posted on johnkerry.com, includes a "Silver Star with combat V."

But according to a U.S. Navy spokesman, "Kerry's record is incorrect. The Navy has never issued a 'combat V' to anyone for a Silver Star."

Naval regulations do not allow for the use of a "combat V" for the Silver Star, the third-highest decoration the Navy awards. None of the other services has ever granted a Silver Star "combat V," either.

Fake claims not uncommon

B.G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran himself, received the highest award the Army gives to a civilian, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, for his book Stolen Valor. Burkett pored through thousands of military service records, uncovering phony claims of awards and fake claims of military service. "I've run across several claims for Silver Stars with combat V's, but they were all in fake records," he said.

Burkett recently filed a complaint that led last month to the sentencing of Navy Capt. Roger D. Edwards to 115 days in the brig for falsification of his records.

Kerry's Web site also lists two different citations for the Silver Star. One was issued by the commander in chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC), Adm. John Hyland. The other, issued by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman during the Reagan administration, contained some revisions and additional language. "By his brave actions, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty, Lieutenant (j.g.) Kerry reflected great credit upon himself... ."

One award, three citations

But a third citation exists that appears to be the earliest. And it is not on the Kerry campaign Web site. It was issued by Vice Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, commander of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam. This citation lacks the language in the Hyland citation or that added by the Lehman version, but includes another 170 words in a detailed description of Kerry's attack on a Viet Cong ambush, his killing of an enemy soldier carrying a loaded rocket launcher, as well as military equipment captured and a body count of dead enemy.

Maj. Anthony Milavic, a retired Marine Vietnam veteran, calls the issuance of three citations for the same medal "bizarre." Milavic hosts Milinet, an Internet forum popular with the military community that is intended "to provide a forum in military/political affairs."

Normally in the case of a lost citation, Milavec points out, the awardee simply asked for a copy to be sent to him from his service personnel records office where it remains on file. "I have never heard of multi-citations from three different people for the same medal award," he said. Nor has Burkett: "It is even stranger to have three different descriptions of the awardee's conduct in the citations for the same award."

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now this has a little more substance to it, keep us posted

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