Three days after Media Matters for America first reported that the website of anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth contradicted the account of the group's star witness -- retired Rear Admiral William L. Schachte Jr., who claims he was the commander on the December 2, 1968, mission for which the U.S. Navy awarded Senator John Kerry his first Purple Heart -- Swift Boat Veterans for Truth altered its website's account of the incident to make it consistent with Schachte's version of events. According to Schachte, Kerry did not deserve the award because the “skimmer” he supposedly commanded that night did not receive enemy fire, and Kerry's wound was the result of Kerry's own improper use of an M-79 grenade launcher.
The original version of the account on the Swift Boat Vets website begins:
The action that led to John Kerry's first Purple Heart occurred on December 2, 1968, during the month that he was undergoing training with Coastal Division 14 at Cam Ranh Bay. While waiting to receive his own Swift boat command, Kerry volunteered for a nighttime patrol mission commanding a small, foam-filled “skimmer” craft with two enlisted men.
As MMFA explained, this description matches Kerry's own account, as well as the account of Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis, two enlisted men who insist that: (1) Schachte was not on the skimmer; (2) that Kerry was in command; and (3) that Runyon and Zaladonis were the only other people besides Kerry on the small craft.
The new, altered version of the Swift Boat Vets account reads:
The action that led to John Kerry's first Purple Heart occurred on December 2, 1968, during the month that he was undergoing training with Coastal Division 14 at Cam Ranh Bay. While waiting to receive his own Swift boat command, Kerry volunteered for a nighttime patrol mission on a small, foam-filled “skimmer” craft under the command of Lt. William Schachte. The two officers were accompanied by an enlisted man who operated the outboard motor.
The Web page's footer reads: “Last Updated Monday, August 30 2004 @ 09:09 PM PDT.” -- three days after MMFA's item appeared.
In addition to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's own website, MMFA has noted that other evidence substantially undermines Schachte and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's attack on Kerry's first Purple Heart. MMFA has extensively documented and refuted Swift Boat Vets' attacks on Kerry in the media.