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March 11, 2004
Ten Little Brothers, Standing in a Line, One Voted Bush, and Then There Were Nine.By Greyhawk
Kerry's right -
“What can I say?” Kerry said when told that a former crewmate had unpleasant memories of him as his commanding officer. “I’ll take nine out of ten testimonies anytime.”
But although nine out of ten of his former crew may claim to respect him, that 'nine out of ten' figure probably is a good representation of the percentage of total current and former military people that really wouldn't vote for Kerry under any circumstances for any position of responsibility.
For those who haven't heard, Time has an article on one of Kerry's "Band of Brothers" who has been found after an exhaustive search by author/Kerry worshiper Douglas Brinkley.
When researching Tour of Duty some of these veterans proved extremely difficult to track down. Stephen W. Hatch, a boatswain’s mate who served under Kerry on PCF-44, proved particularly elusive. Eventually I located him in Niagra (sic) Falls, New York and he told me about his admiration for Chuck Berry guitar licks, rose tattoos and John Kerry. As my book went to press the only Swift crewmate I couldn’t locate was Gardner. A quick count in the index of Tour of Duty shows that Gardner’s name appears on a dozen different pages throughout my narrative. He also periodically appeared in Kerry’s war diaries. Still, my various inquiries to the U.S. Naval Historical Center, the Swift Boat Crew Directory and other outstanding reference outlets proved futile.
After spending considerable time tracking Gardner down, Brinkley dismisses him rather quickly:
After interviewing Gardner for over an hour it essentially boils down to one word: politics. A strong supporter of President George W. Bush, Gardner is sickened by the idea of Kerry as president. “Anybody but Kerry,” he says. “I know what a disaster he’d be.” So what brought Gardner out in the open? The answer turns out to be Rush Limbaugh’s talk show.
Stop there. Because no, the answer turns out to be Doug Brinkley. But perhaps the difficult question (or the question Brinkley wouldn't record the answer for) wasn't asked: knowing Kerry, why support Bush? After all, Gardner did not seek out Brinkley, in fact very much the opposite occurred. That this man may now be subject to questions of character and motivation is unfortunate.
Over the next three years Gardner served as gunner on four different Swift boats, each with a different commanding officer.
That would be one year for every month of Kerry's service - Kerry's final month in country was spent "on shore" awaiting orders.
Brinkley went to great efforts to find (and defuse) Garder, and having done so he fails to give us much information from the man, substituting speculation about him. This may be due to Brinkley's reluctance to write or Gardner's reluctance to speak. If the latter, and if Gardner should overcome that reluctance, he must now do so with an established record as "biased". A charge for which he has been dismissed without having much chance to tell his tale. Brinkley tries to make much of Gardner "almost calling" Rush Limbaugh. That impulse alone (even if not acted upon) is worthy of scorn in the eyes of many on the left. "But don't worry" Brinkley implies "we've exposed him for what he is."
Three years duty in Vietnam? He's a hero.
Nine out of ten, Senator. Guaranteed.
Posted by Greyhawk / March 11, 2004 2:12 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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