Wash. Times excerpted Unfit for Command distortions

On August 18, The Washington Times published the first of three excerpts from the Regnery book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, co-authored by John O'Neill (co-founder of the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) and Jerome R. Corsi (who has come under scrutiny for extreme comments first exposed by Media Matters for America on August 6). The first two sentences of the book's excerpt -- which was more than 2,900 words long -- distorted the length of Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) Vietnam service and the circumstances under which he was discharged from Vietnam.

From Unfit for Command, as excerpted in the August 18 edition of The Washington Times:

In the history of Swift Boats in Vietnam, all military personnel served a tour of duty of at least one year unless seriously wounded. Among the few exceptions was John Kerry, who requested to leave Vietnam in 1969 after four months.

In fact, Kerry served a tour of duty of at least one year. As MMFA previously noted, during his first tour of duty, Kerry served more than a year on the USS Gridley, with the ship involved “in operations in support of the Vietnam War” from February 9 to May 27, 1968. The four months (November 1968 to March 1969) that Kerry commanded a swift boat in Vietnam comprised his second tour of duty.

And contrary to the claim that Kerry “requested to leave Vietnam,” it was by Navy policy, and not by his own request, that Kerry left Vietnam in 1969. According to the Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk weblog (CampaignDesk.org), the policy in question, Bureau of Navy Personnel (BUPERS) Instruction 1300.39, mandated that personnel “wounded three times, regardless of the nature of the wound or treatment required” are to be “reassigned as having completed a full Vietnam tour with the hospital release date considered the tour completion date. They will not be ordered to Vietnam ...”. According to an April 21 Associated Press report cited by CampaignDesk.org: “After the third Purple Heart, the Navy was required to reassign Kerry out of Vietnam, and a document dated March 17, 1969, said Kerry requested duty as a personal aide in Boston, New York or the Washington area. Kerry could have volunteered to stay in Vietnam, but left the country in early April 1969.”