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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Statement on Military Service - Integrity is Everything

The following comes via our good friend Russ Vaughn. I'm not sure where he picked this up from, but I will post the origins of this post ASAP.
When news of the Swift Boat Veteran's actions first ran you can imagine my interest. I decided to read everything I could on the Internet. I watched the Democratic National Convention every night and saw the emphasis on Senator Kerry's military service. I have tried to look at both sides of this very important issue, who should be the next President of our great nation.

When I reviewed the experiences of the men who served with Kerry, on his boat and his squadron, I had flash backs of all of the officers I served with that I thought were terrible leaders. Yes there are bad leaders in the U.S. Marine Corps. Leadership is a skill that must be developed and respect must be earned.

When I reviewed what Senator Kerry did in Vietnam and how he conducted himself, I cannot put into words the disgust I felt.

Honor, integrity, courage, and self respect are tangible and measurable and cannot be compromised - ever. Death before dishonor is not a macho phrase. I only judge an individual by their actions. When you lead enough men for long enough you can see the indicators of their core moral values and strengths, just like a good Doctor conducts a medical diagnosis. Additionally, I believe that an officer should always put the needs of his subordinates above his own and should always set the example. With all of this said, lets look at one specific dishonorable act on Kerry's part - explain why Kerry would video tape the reenactment of killing an enemy combatant?

I cannot imagine that the vast majority of American citizens would feel comfortable enough about taking a human life that they would go back to where it occurred and video tape a reenactment. I had to sleep among body parts in Kuwait and I remember the smell. In my head I still hear the screams of men dying if I do not focus on good things or keep busy. I know how fragile and precious life is. How can killing someone be treated like bagging a Deer or catching a fish. It is only possible when you do not have the moral fiber, self discipline, self respect, faith, values, honor, courage, etc. to see that this kind of conduct is wrong. Combat and morality are not mutually exclusive and combat is not an excuse for immorality. Such an act can only serve one purpose, Kerry's own personal gain.

Now lets look at the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). I could charge John Kerry with breaking several articles that would result in a prison term. Remember that Kerry is a "boat" commander, not a SEAL, Soldier or Marine. Under what authority did Kerry conduct operations ashore away from his boat? How can Kerry justify putting his own men in harms way to make his films? Note that he was re-enacting combat, did the enemy leave so he could do the filming. How much time did he have for this activity and what duties did he avoid or neglect? What example was he setting as an Officer? He was on the taxpayer's payroll consuming military resources during these personal activities.

Worse than all of the above was how premeditated this had to have been. What was he thinking when he bought the camera and the film before he went into Vietnam. He had to have been calculating the value of video taping the destruction of human life. Kerry's 4 months in Vietnam was the equivalent of an African Safari big game hunt.

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps called me last month, I am still on the reserve recall list. I would gladly go to Iraq again. However, I want President Bush in office. President Bush has earned my confidence through his actions. No combat military service, a DUI, rich, a father with connections, or whatever other superfluous point you want to make about President Bush, you cannot produce a single objective example that he lacks honor, courage, or integrity. In four months, Kerry produced several examples. Additionally, why does Bush's lack of service matter if it did not matter for President Clinton. What matters most is the candidate's core value system.

For those who believe President Bush lied about the Iraq war, take that issue up with Senators like Kerry who voted for the action and are responsible for maintaining the checks and balances necessary for making correct strategic decisions. Bush acts on the information he is given, just like Kerry's commanders in Vietnam acted on the information they received. Bad information, bad decisions. The Senators and Congressmen who voted for the war had the same information. Since everyone claims our intelligence was bad, ask SENATOR KERRY why he did nothing at all in 20 years to solve this critical issue. While Bush was honorably acting as the Governor of the State of Texas, Senator John Kerry was changing wives and missing critical intelligence meetings.

In Kuwait I was in the back of a truck escorting several Iraqi prisoners to a holding camp. One of my Corporals, angered over a rumor that a captured female U.S. Soldier was gang raped and had her hands and feet cut off, tried to throw a prisoner off of the truck, which was going 60 MPH. I had to physically stop him. At our destination we off loaded the prisoners. The Iraqi prisoner came directly at me so he could look me in the eyes, and in perfect English, he thanked me for saving his life. He said he graduated from Harvard and had lived in America. He said he was forced to fight or they would kill his family!

Many Americans probably cannot comprehend the implication or significance of this because they live in a nation so free that they have not witnessed true evil. No amount of rhetoric, negotiations, promises, money, valuables, kindness, education, or sensitivity will stop the extremism that has been growing in the Arab world over the past few decades. President Bush lead a war that destroyed the most powerful military force in the Arab world. Now we have a vastly more difficult fight to establish the seed of democracy in the region. Democracy displaces Islamic extremism by empowering individual freedom. However, it will take many more American lives to achieve a goal that is critical for our nations continued long term prosperity. The Iraq war was and still is the right thing to do - for this reason alone.

John Kerry does not have the value system necessary to lead a sustained fight against Islamic extremism.


Grant K. Holcomb
Larkspur, CO

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