Included in this blog is a Boston Globe movie review in 1979 by John Kerry on the movie by Francis Ford Coppola, "Apocalypse Now." In addition, I have added some testimony from John Kerry where he strays from his previous accounts of his wartime experience.
"Francis Coppola brings us Apocalypse Now the same way the politicians and generals brought us the war in Vietnam," Kerry wrote, "by spending a lot of money, displaying a lot of technical razzle-dazzle, and by losing all sense of proportion and direction." Plus, "Coppola's Vietnam is devoid of reality and feeling."
Kerry served in Vietnam from November 1968 to March 1969, and he related Coppola's movie to his own experience. "On more than one occasion," he went on, "I, like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now, took my patrol boat into Cambodia." Kerry continued: "In fact I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real." It was that same absurdity which Coppola failed to capture in the film, Kerry said.
The problem with this review and personal experience comparison is this. His implied chronology was off. President Nixon didn't claim there were no American troops in Cambodia in December 1968. Indeed, he couldn't have. He wasn't president until January 20, 1969. Nevertheless, Kerry continued to recount his Christmas Eve adventure in the waters of Cambodia after he was elected to the Senate in 1984. Further repudiation of Kerry's imagination is his Senate testimony of March 27, 1986.
"Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia," Kerry began. "I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory, which is seared--seared--in me," he went on, "that says to me, before we send another generation into harm's way, we have a responsibility in the United States Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible in order to avoid that kind of conflict."
Years later, September 4, 1997, in a Senate Subcommittee hearing Kerry said, "I first was introduced to Cambodia when I spent Christmas Eve of 1968 in a river in Cambodia during the Vietnam conflict. Kerry was impressed with what he saw. "I found it to be a rather remarkable and very beautiful country which had an allure to me, and to many others," he told his fellow lawmakers, "which has been sustained through those years."
But alas, Kerry's own authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley in his book "Tour of Duty" writes,
Christmas Eve, 1968, turned out to be memorable for the men of PCF-44 [the boat Kerry commanded] though not in the jingle-bells sense folks were enjoying back home. The only concession to the holiday spirit was that morning's rare breakfast of scrambled eggs, after which the crew headed their Swift north up the Co Chien River to its junction with the My Tho only miles from the Cambodian border. Because they were only an hour away from that neighboring country, Kerry began reading up on Cambodia's history in a book he had borrowed from the floating barracks in An Thoi.
In the final analysis, not a single Swift boat commander or crewmate of Kerry's has stepped forward to confirm that John Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. The Kerry campaign has even issued a statement contradicting the Cambodian claim.
In 1994 in an interview with the Providence Journal Bulletin Kerry states, "Stupid Vietnamese were celebrating Christmas by shooting tracers, fifty-caliber, right up into the air," Kerry went on, "and the goddamned things were coming right over our head. That was a wild night. That was a night like right out of Apocalypse Now."
John Kerry wants his campaign for President to be a referendum on his Vietnam service record. He is now getting his wish. Years of dubious reporting by himself and his anti-war record are now resurfacing. With enough scrutiny and thorough investigative reporting the real John Kerry will have to stand up. And America........It's not pretty.