Washington (CNSNews.com) - A coalition of former Vietnam prisoners of war gathered in Washington on Thursday to denounce John Kerry's anti-war activism, which, they said, labeled an entire generation of veterans as "atrocity-committing monsters."
A new documentary called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," featurs POWs explaining how Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971 was used against them in interrogations by North Vietnamese communists.
"When these people came back from the war and were vilified, spit upon and so forth, that was largely due to the efforts of this man [Kerry]," said former POW, Col. George "Bud" Day, who was on hand to promote the documentary detailing how Kerry's claims of daily war atrocities affected POWs.
Day, who was held in captivity by North Vietnam for over five-and-a-half years, said Kerry came back from Vietnam masquerading as a war hero "and told the country that we were a bunch of atrocity committing monsters and that these monsters were coming home."
"[Kerry] cast the longest shadow of possibly any person over the performance of soldiers, sailors, marines, air force in Vietnam," said Day.
"They [Kerry's comments] were precisely the kind of thing that a propaganda expert and the news media were looking for," Day explained in the film.
Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Detroit "Winter Soldier" investigations in which he claimed more than 150 Vietnam veterans "testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia - not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command...."
According to Kerry, some of the 150 veterans admitted they "had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam..."
Day has not forgiven Kerry for his testimony.
"[Kerry] has destroyed the good name of all Vietnam veterans. This man committed an act of treason. He lied. He besmirched our name, and he did it for his own self-interest, and now he wants us to forget? I can never forget," Day said.
The new documentary also features clips of anti-war former Vietnam veterans apparently making up and embellishing testimony for the 1971 anti-war "Winter Soldier" investigations in Detroit that alleged many of the war atrocities on which Kerry based his Senate testimony in April of 1971.
Paul Galanti, who was held in captivity for over six-and-a-half years in Vietnam, rejects Kerry's claims of atrocities outright.
"He never saw anybody's ears getting cut off. He knew or should have known those guys he was with were frauds. They were just outright frauds," Galanti said in the documentary.
Jack Van Loan, a former POW who was held for nearly six years in Vietnam prison camps, also rejects all of Kerry's allegations.
"To say we were rapists, we were murders, we were pillagers, is absolutely a lie. There is just no two ways about it," Van Loan said in the film.
Leo Thorsness, a POW who was held in captivity for over five years, recalled how Kerry's allegations of war crimes by U.S. soldiers were used as a tool to interrogate POWs.
"The [North Vietnamese] interrogator went through all of the statements of John Kerry. He started pounding on the table - 'See here this naval officer [Kerry]. He admits you're a criminal and you deserve punishment,'" Thorsness said.
Thorsness said Kerry's atrocity claims mirrored those of his North Vietnamese captors.
"As a prisoner of war, we were being told that we were war criminals and we were being tried for war crimes and unless we confess and ask forgiveness and bad mouth the war ---take their side [North Vietnam's] in the war, we'd never go home," Thorsness explained.
According to Thorsness, Kerry said "the same things that we were being tortured to say. That was a very difficult time."
The movie alleges that "Kerry painted a depraved portrait of Vietnam Veterans, literally creating the image of those who served in combat as deranged drug addicted psychopaths, baby killers," an image the former POWs say still haunts them.
Jim Warner, who spent nearly five-and-a-half years as a Vietnam POW, told CNSNews.com that he was interrogated by the North Vietnamese prison guards using Kerry's claims of U.S. war crimes.
[The testimony] was [from] John Kerry. [The North Vietnamese interrogator] told me it was a naval officer. I couldn't believe this could possibly be true. He spent a long time just berating me, telling me 'Here this officer proves that you deserve to be punished,'" Warner said.
"I was feeling very uneasy as he went over this. We spent about an hour or two talking about this naval Lieutenant John Kerry and his admission that I deserved to be punished," Warner added.
Jack Fellowes, a former POW who spent more than six years in captivity, said that Kerry "should be accountable" and "we are asking him to be accountable."
Fellowes believes that the anti-war activists prolonged the war. "[Kerry] owes me two years, as does Jane Fonda and that crowd," he said.
Kevin McManus, a POW for over five-and-a-half years, told CNSNews.com his thoughts about Kerry possibly becoming commander in chief in January.
"Revulsion - I can't imagine it. I can't imagine anybody in their right mind who had done any work studying the candidates would vote for him," McManus said.
Fellowes told CNSNews.com , "I don't think [Kerry] should accept that role [commander in chief], because he betrayed all of us. He betrayed all the military. So it kind of bothers me."
"We just don't do that. We are Americans," he added.
See Related Articles:
Kerry 'Unfit to be Commander-in-Chief,' Say Former Military Colleagues (May 3, 2004)
Kerry Lying About Anti-War Past, Supporter Alleges (March 18, 2004)
Kerry-Linked Anti-War Group Can't Bury Deceit (March 3, 2004)
Most Media Refused to Expose Kerry's Anti-War Cohort (March 3, 2004)
Kerry's Denials at Odds With 1971 Book He Authored (Feb. 20, 2004)
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