Kerry's Vietnam Chronology
A glowing description of Kerry's three months in Vietnam by his hometown paper, the Boston Globe (we are certain most combat veterans can "read between the lines"):
November 17, 1968 - Upon completion of his training, Kerry reports for duty to Coastal Squadron 1, Coastal Division 14, Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam.
December 1968 through January 1969 - Kerry commands PCF-44
December 2, 1968 - Kerry experiences first intense combat; receives first combat related injury.
December 6, 1968 - Kerry moved to Coastal Division 11 at An Thoi on Phu Quoc Island
December 13, 1968 - Kerry moved to Coastal Division 13, Cam Ranh Bay
December 24, 1968 - Kerry involved in combat during the Christmas Eve truce of 1968. The truce was three minutes old when mortar fire exploded around Lieutenant Kerry and his five-man crew. Reacting swiftly, John Kerry and his crew silenced the machine gun nest
January 22, 1969 - Kerry and other Swift boat commanders travel to Saigon for meeting with Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, Commander Naval Forces Vietnam (COMNAVFORV), and Gen. Creighton Abrams, Commander United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam (COMUSMACV)
Late January, 1969 - Kerry joined his 5 man crew on PCF-94
Late January through Early March, 1969 - Starting in late January 1969, this crew completed 18 missions over an intense and dangerous 48 days, almost all of them in the dense jungles of the Mekong Delta. Kerry's crew included engineman Eugene Thorson, later an Iowa cement mason; David Alston, then the crew's only African-American and today a minister in South Carolina; petty officer Del Sandusky of Illinois; rear gunner and quartermaster Michael Medeiros of California; and the late Tom Belodeau, who joined the crew fresh out of Chelmsford High School in Massachusetts. Others rotated in and out of the crew. The most intense action came during an extraordinary eight days of more than 10 firefights, remembered by Kerry's crew as the "days of hell." February 20, 1969 - Kerry and crew involved in combat; Kerry receives second combat injury - Kerry earned his second Purple Heart after sustaining a shrapnel wound in his left thigh.
February 28, 1969 - For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Coastal Division ELEVEN engaged in armed conflict with Viet Cong insurgents in An Xuyen Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 28 February 1969. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry was serving as Officer in Charge of Patrol Craft Fast 94 and Officer in Tactical Command of a three-boat mission. As the force approached the target area on the narrow Dong Cung River, all units came under intense automatic weapons and small arms fire from an entrenched enemy force less than fifty-feet away. Unhesitatingly, Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry ordered his boat to attack as all units opened fire and beached directly in front of the enemy ambushers. The daring and courageous tactic surprised the enemy and succeeded in routing a score of enemy soldiers. The PCF gunners captured many enemy weapons in the battle that followed. On a request from U.S. Army advisors ashore, Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry ordered PCFs 94 and 23 further up river to suppress enemy sniper fire. After proceeding approximately eight hundred yards, the boats again were taken under fire from a heavily foliated area and B-40 rocket exploded close aboard PCF-94; with utter disregard for his own safety and the enemy rockets, he again ordered a charge on the enemy, beached his boat only ten feet from the VC rocket position, and personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy. Upon sweeping the area an immediate search uncovered an enemy rest and supply area which was destroyed. The extraordinary daring and personal courage of Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire were responsible for the highly successful mission. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
March 13, 1969 - For heroic achievement while serving with Coastal Division ELEVEN engaged in armed conflict with Viet Cong communist aggressors in An Xuyen Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 13 March 1969. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry was serving as Officer in Charge of Patrol Craft Fast 94, one of five boats conducting a SEA Lords operation in the Bay Hap River. While exiting the river, a mine detonated under another Inshore Patrol Craft and almost simultaneously, another mine detonated wounding Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry in the right arm. In addition, all units began receiving small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks. When Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry discovered he had a man overboard, he returned upriver to assist. The man in the water was receiving sniper fire from both banks. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry directed his gunners to provide suppressing fire, while from an exposed position on the bow, his arm bleeding and in pain and with disregard for his safety, he pulled the man aboard. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry then directed his boat to return and assist the other damaged boat to safety. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry is authorized to wear the Combat "V".
March 17, 1969 - The policy of Coastal Squadron One, the swift boat command, was to send home any individual who is wounded three times in action. After sustaining his third wound from enemy action in Vietnam, Kerry was granted relief under this policy.
Source: Boston Globe, "John Kerry, the Making of a Candidate", 6/15/03-6/21/03;