It turns out there weren't two Bronze Stars awarded for the events in Bay Hap on March 13, 1969. There were three -- given to John Kerry, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" member Larry Thurlow, and a third man. Newsweek just obtained a Navy record on that third Bronze Star.
Guess whose story it backs up?
Hint: Not Larry Thurlow.
You remember how Thurlow's own military records were shown to contradict him, as The Washington Post reported last week:
In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.
But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."
Now there's this from Newsweek:
The third Bronze Star was won by one of Thurlow's own launch crew, Robert Eugene Lambert, who was radarman and the senior noncom on Thurlow's boat. NEWSWEEK obtained a copy of the citation for Lambert's Bronze Star from the National Personnel Records Center in St Louis under a Freedom of Information Act filing. This citation, like the others, says that following a mine explosion that wrecked one of the Swift Boats, the flotilla of five boats "came under small-arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks."
Oh, and here's my favorite part:
Lambert won his Bronze Star for an action precisely paralleling Kerry's: Lambert picked someone out of the river. In Lambert's case, that someone was his skipper, Thurlow.
Thurlow had steered his Swift Boat to the aid of its companion damaged by the mine, personally leaping into the foundering craft to aid its badly wounded crew while Lambert "directed accurate suppressing fire at the enemy," according to the citation. In the swirling confusion, Thurlow was then knocked overboard from the wrecked launch.
At which point Lambert pulled him onto his boat, saving him.
(Even though, of course, there was no enemy fire, according to Thurlow.)
The Swiftees will say Kerry wrote this up himself -- lying to win medals not just for himself, not just for himself and Thurlow, but for himself, Thurlow, and a third man.
(Hey, why not more? "Bronze Stars for everybody! Yaaa - hooo! Rock and roll!")
Lambert's surviving military records do not include the initial recommendation for this medal, so there is no way to know who filled the required role of witness to vouch for Lambert's actions. But the citation contains such detail about the actions of both Thurlow and Lambert -- actions that Kerry cannot have known since his launch was on the far side of the river --that it seems implausible Kerry could have written the recommendation.
Not to the Swiftees and the rest of the Right -- I assume they think it's perfectly plausible that Kerry kidnapped the Lindbergh baby.