'Bugged out of Vietnam'

At the press conference today, Hoffman said Kerry, in his "abbreviated tour" of four months and 12 days, "and with his specious medals secure � bugged out of Vietnam and began his infamous betrayal of all United States forces in the Vietnam War."

Kerry's campaign responded to the allegations with a press conference of its own, featuring four veterans.

Spokesman, Michael Meehan insisted the U.S. Navy has released Kerry's entire record, at the senator's request, which now is posted at JohnKerry.com.

However, retired Lt. Cmdr. Grant Hibbard told reporters today at least one of the three Purple Hearts awarded to Kerry did not appear warranted.

"He showed me a scratch on his arm and a piece of shrapnel in his hand that appeared to be from one of our own M-79s," Hibbard said. "He later received a Purple Heart for that scratch, and I have no information as to how or whom."

Kerry's behavior was sharply criticized by a commanding officer who supervised him in several naval operations.

"Kerry would be described as devious, self-absorbing, manipulative, disdain for authority, disruptive," said retired Capt. Charley Plumly, "but the most common phrase you would hear [was] 'requires constant supervision.'"

O'Neill noted that during his 1971 televised debate with Kerry, he accused him of lying and urged him to come forward with affidavits from the soldiers who claimed to have committed or witnessed atrocities.

"To date no such affidavits have been filed," O'Neill said, noting Kerry recently "has attempted to reframe his comments as youthful or 'over the top.'"

"Yet always there has been a calculated coolness to the way he has sought to destroy the record of our honorable service in the interest of promoting his political ambitions of the moment," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said what happened in Vietnam more than 30 years ago matters because loyalty in the military is "indispensable."

"How can a man be commander in chief who for over 30 years has accused his 'Band of Brothers,' as well as himself, of being war criminals?" he asked. "On a practical basis, John Kerry's breach of loyalty is a prescription of disaster for our armed forces."

Pointing out he has refused since 1971 many offers by Kerry's political opponents to speak out, he claimed his "reluctance to become involved once again in politics is outweighed now by my profound conviction that John Kerry is simply not fit to be America's commander in chief."

"Nobody has recruited me to come forward," he said. "My decision is the inevitable result of my own personal beliefs and life experience."

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