In his eyewitness account, Rood describes coming under rocket and automatic weapons fire from Viet Cong on the riverbank during two separate ambushes of his boat and Kerry's boat.
Praise for the mission led by Kerry came from Navy commanders who far outranked Hoffmann. Rood won a Bronze Star for his actions on that day. The Bronze Star citation from the late Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, then commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Vietnam, singled out the tactic used by the boats and said the Viet Cong were "caught completely off guard."
Why is it impressive that someone whose Bronze Star depended on the Kerry story of what happended that day supports Kerry's story of what happened that day? The Swiftvets' claim is that Kerry rigged the action reports to make the action seem more impressive. That implicates Rood as much as Kerry, doesn't it?
And of course higher officers such as Zumwalt would be happy about the story. Recall that Zumwalt was the one responsible for using the Swift boats up the rivers. It was in his interest for every sign of success to appear, including lots of medals, so naturally he wouldn't inquire too closely into which stories were genuine.
We have here, I think, the reason why the Swiftvets group didn't form 20 years ago. They must know that there are a lot more dubious medals out there than just Kerry's medals. There was little point in the Swiftboaters criticizing Kerry and raising doubts about Swift boat skippers when Kerry was sure to win the Senate races in Massachusetts anyway (one old phrase put it that in a certain city the Democrat would win "unless he was caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman," and Massachusetts is only half as selective as that). Now that Kerry might actually become President, the Swiftvets are sacrificing narrow self-interest for the sake of their country. To stop Kerry, they must cast doubt on their own medals. They are, naturally, not eager to elucidate this.
(See my Kerry in Vietnam archives for more posts)