Readers have alerted us to the following additions/corrections to our summary of the newspaper sightings of the Kerry/Cambodia story. One reader has alerted us to Michael Kranish’s June 16, 2003 rendition of the story in the Boston Globe’s series profiling Kerry: “Heroism, and growing concern about war.” Kranish wrote:
The Christmas Eve truce of 1968 was three minutes old when mortar fire exploded around John Forbes Kerry and his five-man crew on a 50-foot aluminum boat near Cambodia. ”Where is the enemy?” a crewmate shouted.
In the distance, an elderly man was tending his water buffalo — and serving as human cover for a dozen Viet Cong manning a machine-gun nest.
“Open fire; let’s take ’em,” Kerry ordered, according to his second-in-command, James Wasser of Illinois. Wasser blasted away with his M-60, hitting the old man, who slumped into the water, presumably dead. With a clear path to the enemy, the fusillade from Kerry’s Navy boat, backed by a pair of other small vessels, silenced the machine-gun nest.
When it was over, the Viet Cong were dead, wounded, or on the run. A civilian apparently was killed, and two South Vietnamese allies who had alerted Kerry’s crew to the enemy were either wounded or killed.
On the same night, Kerry and his crew had come within a half-inch of being killed by “friendly fire,” when some South Vietnamese allies launched several rounds into the river to celebrate the holiday.
To top it off, Kerry said, he had gone several miles inside Cambodia, which theoretically was off limits, prompting Kerry to send a sarcastic message to his superiors that he was writing from the Navy’s “most inland” unit.
Back at his base, a weary, disconsolate Kerry sat at his typewriter, as he often did, and poured out his grief. “You hope that they’ll courtmartial you or something because that would make sense,” Kerry typed that night. He would later recall using court-martial as “a joke,” because nothing made sense to him — the war policy, the deaths, and his presence in the middle of it all.
I’m calling on Captain Ed to help us parse this version of the story. It’s weird beyond my capacity for immediate comment. Captain Ed himself meditates on the cracks in the dam in his post this morning, “Media blackout on Cambodian Christmas begins to lift,” and reader Mike Kokoruda points out that PoliPundit has a round-up of news links to the story under the heading “They can’t cover it up anymore.” PoliPundit’s link to the Seattle Times story indicates that Scott Canon’s Kansas City Star story (linked below) has been syndicated by Knight-Ridder. (Reader David Brenna separately pointed out the Seattle Times story.)
Reader Marlin Huston points out the August 13 Washington Times editorial on “Kerry’s Cambodia confusion.” Marlin blogged on the Times editorial at his A Time for Choosing site in “The Washington Times lowers the boom.”
We omitted the Washington Times and Fox News references to the story because they are not among the mainstream media organs whose notice of the story would make it significant, but the Times editorial (run the same day as the column by the State Department’s Saigon “Cambodia man” that we noted here on Friday) is surely a crack in the dam.
Reader New England Republican compares and contrasts media coverage of the”Bush AWOL” hoax with the Kerry/Cambodia meldown in “Media hypocrisy — How the media handled the Bush AWOL controversy.” Warning: If you are on medication for high blood pressure, don’t check out NER’s post before you take your medication.
Sincere thanks to all who have written and helped us track the appearance of this important story. We will keep you updated with further installments as appropriate.