Purple Heart Commentary from Vietnam Docs



When I served as a Navy psychiatrist from 1967-69 at St. Alban’s Naval Hospital I heard the war stories of hundreds of courageous, wounded men. Astonishing tales of selfless sacrifice were told by modest men who suffered from uneasy doubt about whether they’d done enough, and were subsequently troubled by depression and anxiety. They were invariably reluctant to talk about themselves and never, ever boasted of what they’d done. They possessed dignity, and in fact tended to be too self demanding and self-critical.
In addition to these men, who often suffered the guilt of survivors, there were of course the schemers and scammers, the sociopaths, troublemakers and cowards. There were the prevaricators and the braggarts—and all of them somehow found their way to the psychiatrist…

The rest of his precis is good, and then he links to a Washington Times OpEd on the same topic.


  1. This whole thing with John Kerry, 3 purple hearts and 4 months in Viet Nam makes me sick…This is why..

    My Dad was a Master Seargent (infantry) for the US Army in Germany during WWII. He was wounded in battle, shot in the head, and spent months in a hospital overseas…When he was recovered he had every opportunity to come home, but, he asked to stay until that war was over…When it ended he had been there for 3 years, thats years not months..

    He came home with a plate in his head and a purple heart..I was born a few years later and in all my life, I never once heard my Dad speak of that war…REAL HEROS DON’T TALK ABOUT IT!!

    If Johm Kerry received purple hearts that he didn’t earn then he is a disgrace for all the men (and women) who have fought and been injured in any of our wars…He is going to end up taking away from the great respect we have for the men who were wounded or killed fighting for our freedom and our way of life..

    He is the last person we should consider being commander in chief of our Nation…HE IS SHIT DUST!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    First of all I’d like to say that I was in the military and had an additional duty in the Awards and decs office in my squadron. If John Kerry recieved the Purple Heart and did not deserve it, it was his comanding officers fault and not his own. These decorations have to bee requested by a superior officer, and approved by a commander, often times by a wing or base commander if the award is lofty enough (purple heart, bronze or silver star, Med. of Honor, etc.). Therefore to call Kerry a fake or make a mockery of the honors bestowed on him durring any amount of time in a war is disrespectful. Politics asks that the man stand up and pat himself on the back, and franky considering Bush spent no time in or around war, and continues to break his wrist patting himself for nothing says a lot for our options come election day.

  3. As an officer he would be expected to be able to discern the difference between a “gimmie” and an actual award. I’m not buying the “his superiors erred” line.

    As far as I know, Mr. Bush hasn’t made his military service a defining moment in either his life or his candidacy. This would not excuse poor performance, but isn’t “break(ing) his wrist patting himself…” by a long shot.

    Kerry found a loophole, and exploited it. While that’s human nature, it’s not the nature of the human I want as President.

  4. The Kerry Purple Heart thing has been a very disheartening experience.

    I’m 22, and I remember back in 3rd grade being told by our school nurse that her son, who was serving in the Gulf War, had suffered a debilitating injury and would be coming home soon with a Purple Heart. His injury was severe enough where he could not continue fighting even if given the option. All my classmates were in awe, regarding the Purple Heart as one of the most honorable awards from the US Military. The words “Purple Heart” invoked images of battle-hardened soldiers selflessly putting their country’s interests above their own, accepting life-long injuries in their sacrifice.

    I’m sure Kerry is not the only one who exaggerated injuries or falsified reports to gain Purple Heart recognition. Irregardless, exploiting those Purple Hearts for political gain has cheapened their meaning. I don’t mean to disparage people like “Jean”‘s father, who truly deserved the recognition and respect of this award, but its people like John Kerry who have tarnished forever the reverance this 3rd grader had for the Purple Heart. It is disappointing because now it carries the same respect as a gold-star for coloring inside the lines in Kindergarten: “Good job, nothing truly spectacular though”.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just passed my 37 th anniversary of receiving a purple heart. No one should demean any warrior’s wound medal. The small piece of shrapnel that was Kerry’s “superficial” wound could just as easily entered his heart or any other vital organ, killing him. Where the hell was our “courageous” President while Kerry was “only” 4 months in a combat zone. It only takes a moment to get killed. Oh, my wounds were superficial too. Left arm above elbow, left leg above knee…gone in just one microsecond.

  6. Anon, it’s interesting to hear your perspective on this and your obvious support of John Kerry…How supportive of YOU was John Kerry during 18 months in 71-72 when he told every TV camera that would allow him the opportunity about what “villians” all the military guys fighting in Viet Nam was? According to him there was no hero’s in that war but amazingly now in 2004 there is “one”…And his name is John Kerry!

  7. Re: Kerry’s support of VN vets in 71-72.

    At the time, I despised Kerry for his actions. However, from the perspective of time, age (sagacity?), and history, Kerry did more to preserve grunt’s lives in Vietnam than I did. (Is that “flip-flopping”?). He was instrumental in getting the Nixon Administration (whom I voted for) to pull out (peace with honor?). How much longer and how many more lives would have been wasted had Kerry not agitated for withdrawal? 5 yrs, 10 yrs? Perhaps “The Wall” would be twice as large as it is. At least Kerry, showed up, served, and shed blood for his country. Although he pissed many of us off afterward, whatever his motivations (self-serving or altruistic), he did much to bring that war to an end—and ultimately preserved lives and limbs. I wish I could say my service was as meaningful.

    Double Amp Non-Hero

  8. When I read your assesment of things JK has done you make me stop and wonder (if only for a second) if I have made the right decision…The bottom line is, none of us will really know until after the fact if our decision was the correct one or not…

    My family has been involved in 3 wars that have affected my life. I already spoke of WWII and my father’s involvment…Viet Nam brings memories to me that I don’t even like to speak about…My brother, 2 brother-in-laws, many cousins and my fiance were all there and all for atleast a year…I had a brother-in-law that did 2- 13 month tours there…Thank goodness none of them came home with a purple heart. I can only imagine how that war has effected your life and your families lives..I had a friend whose father came home from vietnam without either legs so I do understand what living that way can be like…I can also tell you that when my fiance returned home, even though he had no physical wounds, he was nothing close to being the same man he had been 13 months earlier..I don’t know what happened to his psych in those months because I wasn’t there..You might know, but I don’t… I know that they returned home from a year of hell and there was no parades to welcome them, there was no glory in what they had done, people wern’t lined up to shake their hands. Even thouh the battle they each fought was done out of honor for the country they love…John Kerry may have been a part of the reason those men were treated by their own country the way they were….

    And now, there is this Iraq war…I have a son that returned home in July from there, and neighbors whose son will not ever return home. He wasn’t killed in battle, he was killed in a drowning accident…Every time I speak to my son he reminds me to vote for Bush. He doesn’t elaborate and I don’t ask him too…

    Above all that is this question of who of these two men is most likely to keep us safe? I dont mean that selfishly, but rather as a mother, grandmother, and a person who cares about her neighbors…

    In my mind, Kerry keeps falling short where Bush seems to be the strongest…I understand your perspective and I respect you regardless of our differences…I just can’t in good conscience vote for someone I feel so strongly against….