Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Powerful Message

I recieved this story from a school friend. The account was written by one of her father's best friends. He was a POW in Vietnam for 5 years, and has never forgiven Kerry for how he betrayed the country. Read the account below:

Ever since the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1969 the absolute brutality of daily living had eased. Beatings and torture continued but a bit less frequently. In 1971 I was held in Plantation Gardens, a camp made up of enlisted men and pilots captured during Tet '68 in South Vietnam, and Laos.

Hal Kushner, an Army officer in my camp recalled in the Spring of 1971, "our guards had everyone come outside...a welcome treat....and draped a bedsheet over a clothesline and showed a 16mm movie of young Mr. Kerry making an impassioned speech before Senator Fulbright's Foreign Relations Committee. He was dressed in Fatigues/Utilities with his ribbons on his chest and long shaggy haircut which shocked my 1965 sense of military decorum. He delivered the speech extremely well, dramatically reciting a liturgy of American atrocities in Vietnam. I'll never forget the plummeting of my morale and my sense of disgust with him."

About this time we became aware of a dozen prisoners (we called them "The Ducks") being held in a separate area, isolated from us, receiving special treatment, informing upon our communications nets when found, and aiding our captors. Demoralization was a major problem. We could put up with Jane Fonda, she was the spoiled child of a famous father, not yet a "star" herself. But the effect of a fellow officer accusing us of heinous crimes was devastating. As the Senior Ranking Office I felt direct and dramatic action was needed to draw a bright red line on the issue of collaboration. The North Vietnamese had absolutely forbidden all communication with "The Ducks" and a direct, public challenge to the North Vietnamese was unthinkable. I determined a course of action and waited for an opportunity.

In August 1971 opportunity arose. I was outside my cell being guarded closely when the Ducks were brought out of their room roughly 150 feet behind me. Lt. Archer (USMC) whispered, "The Ducks are out--now's your chance." I came to attention, did an about face and in my best parade ground voice shouted an order to the Ducks that they were "to stop all forms of cooperation and collaboration with the enemy."

I expected to be cut down before I got the order out. Instead the guards just stood with their AKs hanging loose and their mouths open in disbelief...then hurried my group into our cell. In less than ten minutes a group of guards arrived at my cell and ordered me out. The door behind me was closed and I remember being clubbed until things went black.

I came to some time later chained to a wall--it was night--and my body was screaming with pain down to my waist. Below the waist I felt nothing for about a week then a searing pain that continued for several months. I later figured I'd lost about three days before regaining consciousness. My circumstances were extremely unpleasant for a long time thereafter but in the ensuing weeks there was a general stiffening of resistance throughout the camp and four of the Ducks crossed back to us and were welcomed back.

I was savagely beaten in the weeks that followed. Inevitably they would scream at me to sign confessions that I was a war criminal. I was told a fellow officer testified I committed war crimes. I would be shot. During subsequent attempts to adjustment my attitude I heard a great deal about the naval officer and his testimony that I was a war criminal and would be shot. To me, this is not something I'll get over--I will carry memories of Kerry's propaganda to my grave.

I hope you have the opportunity to see "Stolen Honor". It is accurate. You can get a preview at www.stolenhonor.com

Ed Leonard
POW 1968 - 1973

1 Comments:

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