A Swift Boat Veteran for Kerry

Wade Sanders served in the Navy with John Kerry in Vietnam and, with several other such veterans, has come out strongly in support of Kerry’s presidential campaign. Sanders, who once shared an apartment with Kerry before the two went to Vietnam, said he commanded a Swift Boat in Vietnam at the same time as Kerry. “We operated together on a number of actions with Swift Boats,” Sanders said in an August 18 phone interview as he traveled in Minnesota on a campaign trip for Kerry. He said he was not present at any of the incidents now in dispute, however.

“I believe that John Kerry is telling the truth about all of those events,” said Sanders. Asked if there was any controversy about Kerry’s versions of events at the time, he said, “I didn’t hear anything. [Retired Rear Admiral] Roy Hoffmann and other [of Kerry’s superior officers] wrote glowing fitness reports about him….[Commander] George Elliott [who recommended Kerry for the Silver Star] admired John Kerry in Vietnam.”

Sanders said that if Hoffmann, Elliott, and others thought Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star, Bronze Star, or Purple Hearts he received, “why didn’t they do something at the time? I think these guys are angry about Kerry demonstrating against the war after he returned from Vietnam.”

“The Department of the Navy certified John Kerry a hero,” said Sanders. “No one denigrated him at the time.”

Sanders also said that Kerry’s claim that he went into Cambodia was credible. “I personally went into Cambodia…,” he said. “I wasn’t ordered in on a mission. The border was ill-defined. But my understanding is that others were ordered into Cambodia on missions.”

Sanders called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the veterans’ group disputing Kerry’s claims, “Swift Boat Veterans for Bush.” “I am partisan and I am being honest about it,” he said.