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Kerry Came To Fame Via ‘Phony Soldiers’

You would think that John Kerry would know exactly what Rush Limbaugh was talking about, when he commented on the phony soldiers promoted by the anti-war left, like Jesse MacBeth.

After all, Mr. Kerry gained national prominence on the shoulders of such phony soldiers, such as the head of the Vietnam Veterans Against The War, Al Hubbard.

In fact, it was Mr. Hubbard who gave John Kerry his position in the VVAW. All the other members of the leadership had been elected by the rank and file.

But first let’s savor Mr. Kerry’s (self) righteous outrage, via The Hill:

Kerry blasts Limbaugh over ‘phony soldiers’ remark

By Jonathan E. Kaplan

September 28, 2007

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Thursday demanded an apology from conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called soldiers who oppose the Iraq war “phony.”

“This disgusting attack from Rush Limbaugh, cheerleader for the Chicken Hawk wing of the far right, is an insult to American troops. In a single moment on his show, Limbaugh managed to question the patriotism of men and women in uniform who have put their lives on the line and many who died for his right to sit safely in his air conditioned studio peddling hate.

On August 19th, The New York Times published an op-ed by seven members of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division critical of George Bush’s Iraq policy. Two of those soldiers were killed earlier this month in Baghdad. Does Mr. Limbaugh dare assert that these heroes were ‘phony soldiers’?

Mr. Limbaugh owes an apology to everyone who has ever worn the uniform of our country, and an apology to the families of every soldier buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He is an embarrassment to his Party, and I expect the Republicans who flock to his microphone will now condemn this indefensible statement.”

But in actual fact the young John Kerry (who fought in Vietnam) appeared with the pretend Vietnam combat veteran on NBC’s “Meet The Press” just days before his historic appearance before the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee:

Al Hubbard and John Kerry on Meet The Press, April 18, 1971.

But the National Review soon smelled a rat:

Who Is Al Hubbard?

A look at John Kerry’s old crowd.

By William Overend

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appeared in the June 1, 1971, issue of National Review.

Al Hubbard is the executive director of the Vietnam Veterans against the War. I first met him the morning of April 21 at the VVAW “camp-in” on the Capitol Mall in Washington. He was sitting on a flatbed truck, explaining to a circle of six hundred or so members of his group that the Supreme Court had upheld the earlier ruling that the Veterans would not be allowed to sleep on the Mall that night. He was very calm and soft-spoken about it all, at one point interrupting himself to ask that volunteers take down a Vietcong flag someone had stuck in a tree. When he was finished talking, I went up to Hubbard and introduced myself and asked him about his service record, among other things. He said he had been an Air Force captain.

Actually, if I had watched Meet the Press the previous Sunday, I wouldn’t have needed to ask that question at all. Hubbard had been introduced on that show by Lawrence E. Spivak as a former captain who had spent two years in Vietnam, and who had been decorated and injured in the process. The way it was later explained to me at the Washington “camp-in” was that Hubbard had been flying a transport plane into Danang one day in 1966 when he “caught some shrapnel in the spine.”

That was April 21. On April 22, the story began to change. According to Frank Jordan, the Washington Bureau Chief of NBC News, NBC got a tip that Al Hubbard hadn’t been an Air Force captain, but instead an Air Force sergeant. NBC reached Hubbard at a Washington hotel that night, asked Hubbard about the tip, and got a confession that, indeed, he had been lying about his rank. NBC broadcast that on its 11 P.M. news that night and also interviewed Hubbard on the Today Show the next morning. As NBC’s Jordan remembers it, Hubbard explained he made up the business about having been an officer: “He was convinced no one would listen to a black man who was also an enlisted man.”

Two weeks later, John Kerry, Yale’s contribution to the VVAW, recalled that Today Show interview, citing it as proof of Hubbard’s sincerity. “Al owned up to the rank question,” said Kerry. “He thought it was time to tell the truth, and he did it because he thought it would be best for the organization.” That, of course, neglects the fact that NBC had confronted Hubbard with its “tip” prior to the interview.

The next development was a Defense Department news release: “Alfred H. Hubbard entered the Air Force in October 1952, re-enlisted twice and was honorably discharged in October 1966, when his enlistment expired. At the time of his discharge he was an instructor flight engineer on C-123 aircraft with the 7th Air Transport Squadron, McCord Air Force Base, Tacoma, Washington. There is no record of any service in Vietnam, but since he was an air crew member he could have been in Vietnam for brief periods during cargo loading, unloading operations or for crew rest purposes. His highest grade held was Staff Sergeant E-5.”

That raised an important new question about Hubbard’s background. Not only was there his word for it that he’d lied about his rank, now the Defense Department was announcing it didn’t have any record of his having served in Vietnam at all. As a liberally oriented newsman, sympathetic to the Vietnam Vets and impressed personally by Hubbard’s leadership qualities, that came as something of a jolt.

Clearly, if Hubbard had spent considerable time in VA hospitals, the Veterans Administration would have a record of it. A spokesman for the Veterans Administration, however, while confirming that Hubbard did have a sizable medical record, refused to give out any details, saying that would be an invasion of Hubbard’s privacy. He said the only thing the VA would say about Hubbard was that he has a service-connected disability of 60 per cent and that he has been receiving $163 a month.

So Al Hubbard had been seriously injured while in the Service. But the VA would not say whether it was during the Vietnam years or earlier. For after all, Hubbard had enlisted back in 1952. Conceivably, an air crash, if there was one, could have taken place long before 1966. I asked the Defense Department some additional questions: What medals had Hubbard received? What about a plane crash in 1966? And the answers came back: A Korean Service Medal, United Nations Medal, National Defense Medal, four Good Conduct Medals, Air Force Longevity Service Award, Air Force Unit Award and Air Force Expeditionary Medal. But no Purple Heart, and no mention of a Vietnamese Service Ribbon, which, according to the Pentagon, can be rightfully claimed by any member of an air crew serving in Vietnam, even briefly.

Despite that, Defense Department officials stressed it was still possible Hubbard could have served in Vietnam, flying in and out from Tacoma. However, they were skeptical in the extreme of the Danang air crash story. As one spokesman put it: “As far as we know there is no record of his having been involved in a plane crash ever in Vietnam. If he had been, and he’d been seriously hurt, he would have been in a military hospital in Danang. And it would have shown up in our records.”

But what about that 60 per cent disability? Obviously, something had happened to Hubbard at some point during his Service career? It was suggested that I ask Hubbard about that. That seemed to make sense. But there was a slight problem, in that it was becoming difficult to find out where Hubbard was. Most of the Vets had returned to their homes after the April 24 March. But Hubbard and a few dozen others stayed on for the more militant Mayday activities. And on May 3, the first day of big trouble, Hubbard and twenty or so of the others were arrested for throwing cow manure on the steps of the Pentagon.

(John Kerry, one of the many members of the VVAW who had nothing to do with the Mayday protests, denounced them as “horrible”: “Ripping out wires from cars, slashing tires — it’s criminal. It should be punished.”)

Failing immediately to locate Hubbard, I talked to several members of the VVAW at their headquarters in Manhattan. They still remembered the Danang story, although some now emphasized that they had never really heard Hubbard tell it. Scott Moore, a 26-year-old former Army lieutenant, summed up the views of many, saying: “I really don’t care whether Al was in Vietnam or not. He’s a good man. That’s all that counts.”

That attitude wasn’t shared, however, by the senior leaders of the group. Jan Crumb, the President, admitted he was concerned, and he indicated Moore’s comment was primarily for my consumption. Said Crumb: “This matters to all of us, very much. But it’s an internal problem for us to solve.”

This happened on Friday, May 7. At the time Hubbard had been out of touch for several days. However, Crumb said I could expect a call from him the next week. Hubbard called on Monday morning, May 10. He said he was considering a lawsuit against the Defense Department and had demanded that they send him certain records. He said that until he received them he would make no comment. I asked him about the Danang air crash and he replied: “I told you, I will not cooperate with the media in any way.”

Another source, however, was considerably more cooperative. On Thursday, May 13, saying he had seen Hubbard’s medical record, this source said there is no mention at all of a 1966 air crash in Danang. There is, he said, a reference to a 1956 rib injury suffered during a basketball game, and a 1961 entry about a back injury suffered during a soccer game. And much later, in 1962, there was a reference by Hubbard to a 1956 plane crash, but nothing, according to the source, about any accident in Vietnam.

And that about wrapped it up. The Pentagon had answered all my questions except the ones touching on Al Hubbard’s medical records. Al Hubbard had the opportunity to defend himself. Instead he chose to make no comment, and I was left to draw my own conclusions.

So what to do? First, of course, report it for my employer, CBS News. But the story required a longer telling than broadcast time permits. As a liberal, it had occurred to me that raising questions about Al Hubbard might hurt the antiwar movement, but as a journalist, it didn’t seem that that should be a factor. I was wrong. No one would touch the story. Not David Sanford of the New Republic; not any other editor of any liberal publication, I contacted.

B. G. Burkett great book, “Stolen Valor,” supplies a few more details:

Hubbard first claimed he was a decorated Air Force Captain who had caught shrapnel in his spine flying a transport plane into Da Nang in 1966. But after NBC received a tip that Hubbard was lying about his rank, a reporter confronted him. He confessed on the evening news and the Today Show that he actually served as a sergeant, not a pilot or captain, in Vietnam.

John Kerry defended Hubbard, citing the confession as proof of Hubbard’s integrity. “Al owned up to the rank question,” Kery said. “He thought it was time to tell the truth, and he did it because he thought it would be best for the organization.”

Then the Defense Department issued a news release about “Alfred H. Hubbard[‘s] military record stating that “There is no record of any service in Vietnam.” …

And “Stolen Valor” has this to say about Mr. Hubbard’s injuries:

Hubbard’s falsely claimed “wounds” from his Vietnam service (also proven false) were a rib injury from basketball game in 1956 and a back injury in 1961 during a soccer game. He got a 60% service-connected disability rating of 60%, for which he received disability compensation of $163 a month.

Yet another parallel with the left’s hero “Jesse MacBeth” who was also seeking a disability check from Uncle Sam.

But never mind all of that. Mr. Hubbard’s bogus Vietnam experiences were still prominently featured in John Kerry’s subsequently written (and long suppressed) book, “The New Soldier“:

Al Hubbard Sgt., 22 Troop Carrier Squadron Aug. ’65-June ’66

Emotions: Walking down the flight line at Saigon past stacks of aluminum cases containing American bodies and past stacks of aluminum luggage containing American currency. Seeing the tight, sad face of an Airman loading the bodies aboard a dirty Air Force Transport and the wide smiling face of a stewardess greeting the passengers aboard a clean Pan American Clipper Jet.

Hearing a Vietnamese beg you to leave his country and an American colonel tells you to bomb his country. Hearing a Vietnamese invite you to live in his home, after the war and an American explain why you can’t live in his block, after the war.

Flying over barren, brown, safe American held terrain and over lush, green unsafe enemy terrain. Feeling happy to be leaving a country in which you do not belong and sad to be returning to a country in which you are not allowed to belong.

Sacrificing a portion of your consciousness so you won’t have to deal with being there and building mental blocks so you won’t have to deal with having been there.

– Al Hubbard

Clearly these memories of Vietnam are “seared” on Mr. Hubbard’s memory, despite his never having set foot in the country according to the Department of Defense. (Remember, Kerry knew these claims were untrue, and yet he still included them in his opus.)

Yet despite his fabricated credentials, Mr. Hubbard was kept on by the VVAW, and even went to Hanoi to negotiate with the North Vietnamese, where he was honored with a medal.

Of course Al Hubbard was just the most prominent of the ‘phony soldiers’ who John Kerry and the anti-war left promoted.

Many of the self-proclaimed “witnesses” at the “Winter Soldiers Investigation” that Kerry helped to run lied or wildly inflated their experiences in Vietnam.

Including a member of Kerry’s “Band of Brothers,” Joe Bangert, who has frequently served on John Kerry’s campaigns as a “veterans organizer.”

But who cares about such ancient history? Certainly not our watchdog media.

They have a conservative voice to silence. It doesn’t matter how much they have to lie to do it.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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