Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You know that you lied.

Dear Richard Blumenthal,

All the stories today concerning your military record are quoting your sources as saying that you "misspoke" when you stated that you served in VietNam. Here in the south we don't use such a euphemism. We simply say, "you lied."

Granted, definition of misspeak is:

To speak or pronounce incorrectly: The lead actor misspoke his lines.

Now, applying this definition, the best that can be said of you is that you are an actor playing the part of an actual veteran of VietNam. But the stakes are too great for any candidate to be playing the part of someone they're not. In your case, you're not a veteran of VietNam, but rather than misspeaking about you military experience, you simply and knowing lied.

As a peer from that same era, I can certainly understand the value of the deferments that so many sought, myself included. I was a college student at the height of the war, with a 2A student deferment, but unfortunately I flunked out of college in 1968 and was drafted. Already married, I was sworn into the Army on the day my daughter turned 3 months old. I tried to convince the local draft board that I should be granted some other kind of deferment as a husband and father, but my pleas fell on deaf ears.

While in basic training at Fort Knox, I applied for and was accepted into both officer candidate school and flight school. Upon graduation from OCS I was given orders to Germany, where I served for 18 months in an infantry battalion as a mortar then a recon platoon leader. Then, in the summer of 1971, the Army decided that my services were needed in Southeast Asia, so I relocated my family back to our home town and off I shipped to command a rifle platoon in the mountainous jungles west of DaNang. Later I was reassigned to command the battalion heavy mortar platoon.

In the late spring of 1972 the adjutant's office called me in to discuss my future. They offered to promote me to captain and give me my own company to command in exchange for extending my tour by six months in country. If I didn't accept this offer, I could go home a couple of months early. I chose the latter, and don't regret it one bit.

That's my story. I was there. I served alongside some of the finest young men I've ever been privileged to know. Most of my platoon were conscripts who weren't able to obtain deferments or arrange a reserve assignment. They served bravely and honorably and most came home under their own power. Not all did.

Your deceit dishonors their service, and the service of the thousands of young Americans who have served in combat.

To quote a song from our era, "You know that you lied. You lied, you lied, lied, lied, lied." So, spare us the euphemisms, sir.

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