Sunday, August 29, 2004

Campaign Media Watch - The Hidden Story of Kerry's Unofficial Medals

Ned Barnett (c) 2004

Chicago Sun-Times' reporter Thomas Lipscomb has found several major discrepancies that are appearing on Kerry's online record of his combat medals, but which cannot be official, since the awards themselves violate official US Navy policy. This is not the he-said/he-said dispute Swift Boat veterans dispute - rather, this is a story about several major discrepancies with official U.S. Navy policy.

You might think that the vast host of mainstream media reporters, like Leslie Stahl, who were clamoring for every jot and tittle of Bush's National Guard record would be all over this story - but instead, this story is being left to the very few reporters who are willing to dig for the truth.

"Kerry said don't trust the Swifties - look at the Navy's official record. So we did, and we found all kinds of serious discrepancies between the record Kerry presents on his website and what the Navy says is policy," Lipscomb just explained in a radio interview.

"The Navy is saying that the records on Kerry's website are phony records," Lipscomb said. "And the Navy Secretary says that citation is a phony citation. And this is just the beginning - I've got a lot more that I'll be coming out with. I don't know how this phony material got on Kerry's record, but I intend to find this out, and to report it."

He summarized his medal-problem findings as follows:

1. The Combat V on his Silver Star - the Navy does not (never has) award a Combat V for a Silver Star, because the Silver Star is ONLY given for combat valor (unlike the Bronze Star). Kerry has "upped" his award to something that has never been given in Navy history ... and intentionally or not, Kerry is falsely claiming a combat honor that he could not possibly have earned (since nobody ever earned such an award).

2. Kerry claims four combat stars for participation in four recognized battles. However, in a dozen years in Nam, there were only a baker's dozen battles for which stars were given. While Kerry was in Vietnam, only two of those battles took place - so at best, Kerry could claim two (though he may not have participated in any of them, or only one). So Kerry is falsely claiming at least two combat stars.

3. Kerry has THREE different citations for a single Silver Star award, and the most flowery one has been disowned by the man who supposedly wrote and signed it, Navy Secretary John Lehman (who was just on the 9/11 Commission) said he never saw it, never wrote it, and never signed it.

4. Kerry is now admitting that his first Purple Heart award (one of three needed to get out of Nam early) was not earned under the rules by which the awards are given.

"This is not about what the Swifties are claiming," Lipscomb explained, "but about what the records say. There are major problems with the awards Kerry claims on his website. Nobody is entitled to a Combat V on a Silver Star - yet that's what Kerry claims. Nobody is entitled to combat campaign stars for battles which occurred when the soldier was not in combat. Nobody is entitled to a Purple Heart for wounds not inflicted by enemy fire. And nobody is entitled to multiple new-written citations for a single award - if you lose an award, the Navy just photocopies the original and replaces it.

"The Navy is saying that Kerry has two false medals posted on his website," Lipscomb pointed out. "It will be interesting to see how this plays before the veterans - Kerry will be speaking to a major Veteran group next week."

About Ned Barnett:

Ned Barnett, the owner of Barnett Marketing Communications (, is a 32-year veteran of high-stakes crisis-management public relations, and is a frequent “source” for print and broadcast journalists. Barnett has advised many corporate and personal clients on effective crisis relations – often stopping a crisis in its tracks, even before it gets started.

As a political consultant and speechwriter, Barnett has worked for candidates and officials from both parties, as well as for public interest advocacy groups in areas involving the economy, the environment and healthcare. As a historian, Barnett is widely published in military history magazines, and has appeared a number of times on the History Channel, discussing military technology.

Barnett has taught PR at two state universities, and has written nine published books on public relations, marketing and advertising. He’s earned PRSA’s coveted Silver Anvil, two ADDYs and four consecutive MacEacherns; in 1978, he was the youngest (to that time) person to earn accreditation from PRSA, and in 1984, he became the first person to earn a Fellowship in PR from the American Hospital Association. But mostly, Barnett provides PR counsel to a range of corporations, authors and advocacy groups.

© 2004 – Ned Barnett
Barnett Marketing Communications