BUT ... BUT ... THEY'RE COMMIES!
Nightline went to Vietnam and interviewed villagers to demonstrate convincingly that Kerry deserved his Silver Star. Was there heavy fighting and did Kerry face a large number of VC?
According to Vo, there were at least 20 Viet Cong soldiers at Nha Vi there that day. "There were 12 soldiers from the provincial level and eight from the district level," he said.
His wife, Vo Thi Vi, 54, said Feb. 28, 1969, is a day that the villagers of Nha Vi hamlet will never forget. "Everything was destroyed," she said. "There's no houses left. They leveled everything. There was no leaves left. The fighting was very fierce."
According to the citation for Kerry's Silver Star, when the boats approached the hamlet, "a B-40 rocket exploded close aboard PCF 94" -- Kerry's boat. He "personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy," the citation says, before commending Kerry's "extraordinary daring and personal courage" for "attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire."
That account is disputed by Swift boat veteran John O'Neill, author of "Unfit for Command," who maintains in his book that the statement "is simply false. There was little or no fire."
Villagers say this is what they saw:
"Firing from over here. Firing from over there. Firing from the boat," Vo Thi Vi told Nightline.
Was there dishonor in Kerry's kill?
None of the villagers seems to be able to say for a fact that they saw an American chase the man who fired the B-40 into the woods and shoot him. Nobody seems to remember that. But they have no problem remembering Ba Thang, the man who has been dismissed by Kerry's detractors as "a lone, wounded, fleeing, young Vietcong in a loincloth." (The description comes from "Unfit for Command," by Swift boat veteran John O'Neill.)
"No, this is not correct," Nguyen Thi Tuoi, 77, told ABC News. "He wore a black pajama. He was strong. He was big and strong. He was about 26 or 27." ...
Her husband, Nguyen Van Ty, in his 80s, had a slightly different account of how Ba Thang died.
"I didn't see anything because I was hiding from the bullets and the bombs," he said. "It was very fierce and there was shooting everywhere and the leaves were being shredded to pieces. I was afraid to stay up there. I had to hide. And then, when it was over, I saw Ba Thanh was dead. He may have been shot in the chest when he stood up."
So what's the response of John O'Neil of Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth? This: You can't believe 'em! They're commies!
"While I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ted Koppel and ABC News I was appalled to learn that ABC News would go to the lengths of traveling to Vietnam to interview three Viet Cong communists in yet a third attempt by ABC to corroborate John Kerry's version of the events that took place on February 28th, 1969.
"I would only ask the American people: 'Who do you trust more, three members of a communist regime that tortured and killed our American troops or a group of more than 280 highly decorated American veterans, who proudly served their country and are now responsible members of their respective communities....'"
If you can't challenge the facts, smear the witnesses. It's an old lawyer's trick. Hey, you knew O'Neil was a lawyer, didn't you? Funny how that doesn't bother his GOP pals.