The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

My father sent an e-mail to me and several other family members this morning. The older we both get, the more I learn about him and his life. I've reformatted and quoted his note below.

PBS' Frontline usually tries to balance both sides of an issue, in part I assume to avoid jeopardizing government funding. After about 15 minutes, Frontline started to show other views of Kerry.

But during the first 15 minutes they gave some perspective (archive footage) regarding talk of war atrocities. The footage was not so much Kerry making the claims at the rallies, but many veterans telling their own stories of witnessed atrocities.

The stories sounded very much as though our guys were doing back then similar things to what the enemy now does in Iraq, parading dead bodies through the streets for one thing.

All the testimony from people saying that THEY didn't happen to see any atrocities doesn't prove that none happened, anymore than they attest to what Lt. Wm. Cally did or didn't do in My Lai village or anymore than it attests to what I, [GenieAlisa's father] witnessed in our combat unit.

Our unit came accross an old, old man. After a while, one of our sergeants "wasted" him, just because he was an "inconvenience." They didn't know what to do with him, couldn't leave him be. He was in the wrong place at wrong time -- not an enemy -- just old and left drifting a couple of clicks outside Kontum, in all the ' 68 Tet confusion.

It has always perplexed me as to what my reaction should have been. I was fairly new in the unit, new in country and being baptized in combat. I couldn't undo what happened. I just heard the shot and found out what happened after the fact. Someone said the body was thrown in the well (polluting it and its drinking water). If such a thing had happened again -- and after I had gotten my bearings in country -- I probably would have been as outspoken on the spot as Kerry was upon returning stateside.

The "smear quotes" on Kerry before Congress -- actually were not directly Kerry's words -- they were other veterans' accounts that Kerry was relaying to Congress.

People who are so anxious to trash Kerry about Vietnam just don't know what they don't know. They demean themselves out of ignorance more than they attest to Kerry's character.

If you would like to view the Frontline episode Daddy references, you can tune into your local public television station on Thursday 10.14.2004, or online at Frontline: The Choice 2004 starting October 15th.