Coral Gables, Florida (CNSNews.com) - A former Navy crewmate and supporter of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says it is time to "let the dead rest." He demanded that the Vietnam veterans who are questioning Kerry's military service and anti-war activism "shut up."
Del Sandusky, one of Kerry's naval crewmates in Vietnam who was present during the actions that led to the Kerry's Silver Star, Bronze Star and two of his three Purple Hearts, made his remarks about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth immediately following Thursday night's debate between President George W. Bush and Sen. Kerry at the University of Miami.
Sandusky served as one of Kerry's official spokesmen following the debate.
"Let the dead rest, we have got to talk about the issues. Let those guys (Swift Boat veterans opposed to Kerry) go sit in a corner, you know, shut up," Sandusky told CNSNews.com.br>
Sandusky called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth "a Republican smear tactic."
"All of the claims and all of the TV ads were proven false. America ain't listening to them anymore. They are just a crock of lies," Sandusky said.
CNSNews.com asked Sandusky if he could sympathize with the anger that many former Vietnam prisoners of war harbor against Kerry because of his behavior when he returned home from the war. Some communist North Vietnamese prison guards used Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to torment American POWs.
Sandusky responded, "Sure I can understand it -- right. But it doesn't matter if John Kerry made that [1971 speech] or not, they (the POWs) were still going to be tortured. They were prisoners of war."
John O'Neill, the co-author of "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," said Sandusky's comments were consistent with the treatment all Vietnam veterans have received from Kerry.
"Sandusky's comments reflect the arrogance of Kerry's campaign. Instead of an apology, the answer is simply an additional insult to POWs and Vietnam veterans -- to say 'shut up' about it," O'Neill told CNSNews.com Thursday night shortly after Sandusky made his remarks.
"The truth is we are talking about a fellow (Kerry) who may become the commander in chief in the near future. The fact that he made these accusations of atrocities that were used to torture our servicemen in North Vietnam and that they were total lies about the people serving in North Vietnam should disqualify him from being commander in chief," O'Neill said.
Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 about the testimony of more than 150 Vietnam veterans, who had "testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia..."
Those Vietnam veterans, Kerry said, 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..."
"It is important that there is no apology forthcoming from Kerry," O'Neill said. "He stands by his [atrocity] remarks that we were the army of Genghis Khan, and presumably he take no responsibly for the use of his own remarks to torture our troops."
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was also present in "spin alley" following the debate, blasted the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth for broaching the topic of Kerry's performance in combat.
"I do not and will never question anyone's conduct in combat. Now what [Kerry] did after the war or at any other time, that is fine. But in combat, it's dishonorable and disgraceful," McCain told CNSNews.com.
When asked if he has forgiven Kerry for making atrocity allegations against Vietnam soldiers, McCain, a former Vietnam POW, replied that it isn't a matter of forgiveness.
"I worked together with [Kerry], trying to heal the wounds of the Vietnam War. And the worst thing we have done to the American people in this campaign is to reopen them. And the people who suffer more for that than anybody are the Vietnam veterans, and I think it's disgraceful," McCain said.
But O'Neill countered that "Kerry is the one who opened up Vietnam wounds." "He opened the wounds initially by accusing us of being war criminals and reopened them with his 2004 book Tour of Duty (written by Douglass Brinkley)," O'Neill said.
"That book repeated the same [atrocity] allegations just six months ago. And he is the one who inserted Vietnam in the campaign just a month and half ago at the Democratic convention," O'Neill explained.
"Under the circumstances, to not allow the people he's falsely accused of criminal conduct to respond makes no sense at all," he added.
'He was trying to help'
Former Democratic presidential candidate General Wesley Clark said Kerry's anti-war activism in the 1970s was designed to "help" U.S. soldiers serving in Vietnam and revealed the candidate's "moral courage."
"He was trying to help the men and women in the United States Army and help the United States by having the courage to go and testify in front of Congress," Clark said.
"So I can understand why people might have misunderstood John Kerry at the time. But that was 30 years ago," he added.
Former Georgia Democratic Senator and Vietnam veteran Max Cleland said that voters need to "forget about Vietnam."
"This is not about John Kerry's Vietnam 35 years ago, this is about the Vietnam that George Bush has created in Iraq where we are losing young men and women every day," Cleland told CNSNews.com.
"I agree with John Kerry 35 years ago. I agree with him now, and those of us band of brothers out there have been traveling around this country [supporting Kerry] for a long time," Cleland added.
See Related Articles:
Protester Says She Prefers 'Serial Rapist' to George Bush (Oct. 1, 2004)
Kerry's Views on Iraq, Vietnam 'Virtually Identical,' Critic Charges (Sept. 21, 2004)
Kerry Blamed for Viet Vets Being Dubbed 'Atrocity Committing Monsters' POW Says (Sept. 10, 2004)
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's Denials at Odds With 1971 Book He Authored (Feb. 20, 2004)
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.