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Mission 24 - Chronology
John Kerry's Silver Star

August 22, 1966

John Kerry enters the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island.

December 16, 1966

Kerry receives his commission with a rank of Ensign.

June 8, 1967

Kerry begins his first tour of duty, serving on the guided missile frigate USS Gridley.

February 9, 1968

The USS Gridley travels to New Zealand, the Philippines, and the Gulf of Tonkin in support of aircraft carriers in the region.

June 16, 1968

Kerry is promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.

July 20, 1968

Kerry leaves the Gridley for Swift boat training at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado.

December 1, 1968

Kerry reports for duty in Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam and becomes commander of Swift Boat 44, operating in the Mekong Delta.

December 2, 1968

Kerry is wounded in combat by shrapnel in the arm and awarded a Purple Heart.

December 25, 1968

According to a 1986 speech on the Senate floor, Kerry claims he was involved in a mission into neutral Cambodia at Christmas in 1968. But none of his fellow vets corroborate this account, and his campaign has changed the timing. The Vietnam timeline of his website doesn’t mention it but cites a gun battle that occurred on Christmas Eve without mentioning the location.

January 30, 1969

Kerry takes over command of the PCF-94 Swift boat.

February 28, 1969

Kerry leads one of three Swift Boats – PCF23, PCF94, and PCF43 -- up the Dong Cung, a narrow tributary of the Bay Hap River, to conduct a sweep in the area. They have troops led by an Army adviser.

Because ambushes are fairly common, Kerry, the tactical commander of the group, has already talked to the other two boat commanders about their plan. When the three boats encounter automatic weapons fire and RPG shells flying from the side of the river, they turn 90 degrees and head directly into the attackers.

The troops jump off the boats as soon as they hit shore and kill about six Vietcong, capture others, and begin a sweep to find weapons, blast masks, and other supplies.

Kerry orders his boat and one of the others to head upstream into another ambush. They perform the same hard turn and ambush the ambushers, with Kerry leaping off his boat backed by one crew member and chasing a Vietcong behind a thatched hut 15 yards inland. Kerry kills the man and finds a gun at the scene, a loaded B-40 launcher.

Swift Boat Veterans and John O'Neill will dispute the account, but it’s backed up by a man who was there and who is now a newspaper editor at the Chicago Tribune. Kerry wins the Silver Star for his actions.

March 13, 1969

Patrolling the Bay Hap with five other Swift boats, Kerry's group is ambushed and Kerry is hit in the arm by an exploding mine while another boat is blown out of the water.

Kerry turns his boat back toward the ambush and pulls Jim Rassmann, a Green Beret, out of the water.

Kerry's account is disputed by the Swift Boat Veterans, some of whom say there wasn’t any gunfire. But Rassmann himself backs up Kerry’s account.

March 17, 1969

Kerry takes another wound from enemy action and becomes eligible to go home. He becomes an Admiral’s aide based in Brooklyn, NY.

December 1969

Kerry requests early discharge from the Navy to run for the Fourth District Congressional seat of Massachusetts.

January 1, 1970

Kerry is promoted to full Lieutenant. Two days later, he requests a release from active duty.

April 22, 1971

Now home, John Kerry gives testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which he accuses US forces of committing widespread war crimes. (Transcript of his testimony: http://www.richmond.edu/~ebolt/history398/JohnKerryTestimony.html)

November 1984

Kerry is elected to the US Senate with 55% of the vote.

September 2003

Standing on the deck of the USS Yorktown, docked in Mount Pleasant, SC, Sen. John Kerry launches his campaign for the US presidency.


John Kerry's Silver Star

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