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September 03, 2004

Kerry's Bronze Star-- Discussion Forum Data, Maps

The following Swiftvets discussion forum exchange shows how worthwhile these forums can be, another example of how the Web can beat conventional journalism. In reading it, the Washington Post's Great maps of Mekong Delta, the particular river area, close-up of the ambush with possible boat paths are useful....

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FIRST COMMENTER: Regarding the incident of March 13 1969; As I have read the accounts of various swifties and heard the pundits in the media relay this story (and I just finished "Unfit for Command"), I have heard bits and pieces of certain accounts that have yet to be fully explored (I think) in the minds of the public.

As I understand it, there were 5 PCF's operating in a section of river that was only 70 Yards wide (that's a scant 210 feet). The PCF's themselves, although small by Navy standards, are actually quite huge by the public's standards. If I got this right, they're 50 ft long! I actually heard (in an interview) from a gunner that he sat in a gun turret that was 12 feet off the water. I did not, at first, realize just how big these boats were. Good grief, they're the size of a semi-trailer!

Now, Kerry claims that there was enemy fire (automatic weapons fire) coming from BOTH sides of the river bank and yet...there were NO bullet holes reported in any of the boats!

I don't think that the public fully understands how implausible this whole scenerio is. If you were positioned in the very center of the river (thus maximising your distance from an enemy firing from both sides of the river bank) you would only be a mere 35 yards from either bank. That's 105 feet. YOu could hit a semi-trailer with a rock from 105 feet!

How is it possible that someone firing automatic weapons at a target the size of a semi-trailer from a distance of 105 feet managed to MISS all 5 boats?

Seriously....the next time you see a semi parked somewhere walk up and pace off 35 steps, turn around and look at what you see and ask yourself that one question.

Do I have my facts wrong or...are we not illustrating this point to the public properly?

SECOND COMMENTER: You have your facts right, and a demonstration/re- enactment of the Kerry mission would be devestating to Kerry. For example, I could shoot your eyes out at 35 yards with a .22 rifle pretty much every shot, the boats were in a fixed position (salvaging/towing the 3 boat, performing rescue/first aid), Kerry states there was 5000 yards of heavy automatic weapons fire, yet nobody received a bullet wound. I wasn't there, but I'm not stupid enough to believe that's possible under any conditions. No matter who tells me. Keep reading, it gets better. Wink

THIRD COMMENTER: Not to nit pick, but VC snipers would likely not have been at the water's edge. So figure some extra distance for the cover on or near the banks/beach. I don't think this correction changes the image of what the VC would have done to the boats, but the distance might have been closer to 250 ft.

FOURTH COMMENTER: If this engagement was anything like the ones I saw, it usually involved one or two VC shooting perhaps one rocket round and 10 or 15 small arms rounds, the entire thing lasting 3 to 5 seconds, then running like stink before the real show begins. Our guys would typically have returned fire with hundreds and sometimes thousands of rounds and basically killed anything that moved in the vicinity. Most of the VC were ill trained young men and women given a task to do and not much instruction on how to do it. It is conveivable that they hit nothing. You gotta realize that they were nervous and scared and knew what wrath they would being upon themselves.

If this engagement were like the Kerry description, all they guys would have gotten medals, not just Kerry.

I should perhaps add that the best way to read discussion forums is edited, as you are doing here with me as editor. There is quite a bit of filler and confusion in the forums too. But if journalists were smarter, they'd use discussion forums like this one as their sources.

Posted by erasmuse at September 3, 2004 11:50 PM

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