Monday, August 16, 2004

The David Alston Story

David Alston, a Vietnam Veteran, testified to John Kerry's leadership credentials at the Democrat National Convention in Boston. In his speech to the nation he said the following:
Once, he even directed the helmsman to beach the boat, right into the teeth of an ambush, and pursued our attackers on foot, into the jungle. In the toughest of situations, Lieutenant Kerry showed judgment, loyalty and courage. Even wounded, or confronting sights no man should ever have to see, he never lost his cool.
And when the shooting stopped, he was always there too, with a caring hand on my shoulder asking, ‘Gunner, are you OK?’ I was only 21, running on fear and adrenaline. Lieutenant Kerry always took the time to calm us down, to bring us back to reality, to give us hope, to show us what we truly had within ourselves. I came to love and respect him as a man I could trust with life itself.
But did David Alston ever serve under John Kerry?
Byron York believes that Alston served under Kerry for a week or two, but not during certain battles that both John Kerry and David Alston has claimed.
According to a report in the Boston Globe, the Kerry campaign website has in the past listed Kerry as being the skipper of PCF-94 at the time of Alston's wounding. When Kerry's military records were first posted on the site, according to the Globe, "the campaign summarize[d] action that took place on Jan. 29, 1969, this way: 'While Kerry's boat and another (PCF-72) were probing a canal along the river, Kerry's boat came under heavy fire and was hit by a B-40 rocket in the cabin area. One member of Kerry's crew Forward Gunner David Alston suffered shrapnel wounds in his head....'" The campaign website also listed two other incidents that took place prior to January 29 as having occurred under Kerry's leadership.

Peck, who would later sign a letter to Kerry written by the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, protested. "Those are definitely mine," he told the Globe. "There is no doubt about it." The campaign later removed the January 29 reference from the website.
But Byron York's conclusion seems primarily based on interviews with David Alston and Fred Short, not on publicly available military documents. And if we are to believe the recent statements made by Alston and Short, John Kerry's boat operated with two gunners instead of one. Is that plausible? And why did David Alston respond to Byron York's inquiries regarding this issue by stating that all interviews must be approved by the Kerry campaign? Why do John Kerry's "band of brothers" require a script prior to participation in an interview if their Vietnam stories are accurate? And why have neither David Alston nor John Kerry signed form 180, the form that would release all of their military records to the public?