Fact Check

Soldier's Letter to John Kerry

A 'Soldier's Letter to Kerry' by Michael Connelly

Published Oct. 28, 2004


Item:   Michael Connelly's "Soldier's Letter to Kerry."

Status:   Multiple.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Dear Senator Kerry:

Since it has become clear that you will probably be the Democratic Nominee for President, I have spent a great deal of time researching your war record and your record as a professional politician. The reason is simple, you aspire to be the Commander in Chief who would lead my sons and their fellow soldiers in time of war. I simply wanted to know if you possess the necessary qualifications to be trusted in that respect.

You see, I belong to a family of proud U.S. veterans. I was a Captain in the Army Reserve, my father was a decorated Lieutenant in World War II; and I have four sons who have either served, or are currently serving in the military. The oldest is an Army Lieutenant still on active duty in Afghanistan after already being honored for his service in Iraq. The youngest is an E-4 with the military police. His National Guard unit just finished their second tour of active duty, including six months in Guantanamo Bay. My two other sons have served in the national guard and the navy.

In looking at your record I found myself comparing it not only to that of my father and my sons, but to the people they served with. My father served with the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion in Europe. They landed on Utah Beach and fought for 317 straight days including the Cherbourg Peninsula, Aachen, the Hurtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge.

You earned a Silver Star in Vietnam for chasing down and finishing off a wounded and retreating enemy soldier. My father won a Bronze Star for single handedly charging and knocking out a German machine gun nest that had his men pinned down. You received three purple hearts for what appears to be three minor scratches. In fact you only missed a combined total of two days of duty for these wounds. The men of my father's unit, the 87th, had to be admonished by their commanding officer because: "It has been brought to our attention that some men are covering up wounds and refusing medical attention for fear of being evacuated and permanently separated from this organization..." It was also a common problem for seriously wounded soldiers to go AWOL from hospitals in order to rejoin their units. You used your three purple hearts to leave Vietnam early. My oldest boy came home from Iraq with numerous commendations and then proceeded to volunteer to go to Afghanistan and from there back to Iraq again.

My sons and father have never had anything but the highest regard and respect for their fellow soldiers. Yet, you came home to publicly charge your fellow fighting men with being war criminals and to urge their defeat by the enemy. You even wrote a book that had a cover which mocked the heroism of the U.S. Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. Our current crop of soldiers has a philosophy that no one gets left
behind; and they have practiced that from Somalia to the battlefields of the Middle East. Yet as chairman of a Senate committee looking into allegations that many of your fellow servicemen had been left behind as prisoners in Vietnam, you chose to defend the brutal Vietnamese regime. You even went so far as to refer to the families of the POWs and MIAs as Professional malcontents, conspiracy mongers, con artists, and dime-store Rambos.

As a Senator you voted against the 1991 Gulf War, and have repeatedly voted against funds to supply our troops with the best equipment, and against money to improve our intelligence capability. I find this particularly ironic since as a Presidential candidate you are highly critical of our pre-war intelligence in Iraq. However, you did vote to authorize the President to go to war, but have since proceeded to do everything you can to undermine the efforts of our government and our troops to win. Is this what our fighting men and women can expect of you if you are their Commander in Chief? Will you gladly send them to war, only to then aid the enemy by undermining the morale of our troops and cutting off the weapons they need to win?

Our country is at war Senator, and as has been the case in every war since the American Revolution, a member of my family is serving their Country during the war. Now you want me to trust you to lead my sons in this fight. Sorry Senator, but when I compare your record to those who have fought and died for this nation, and are currently fighting and dying, the answer is not just no, but Hell No!

Michael Connelly
February 14, 2004
Dallas, Texas

Origins:   Michael

Connelly is a real person, and he did indeed write the letter quoted above. Beyond that there's not much to say, since this is essentially an opinion piece. (It does contain some factual howlers, though. For example, it was not Senator John Kerry who "referred to the families of the POWs and MIAs as Professional malcontents, conspiracy mongers, con artists, and dime-store Rambos" — that descriptive phrase was uttered by Republican John McCain during a 1994 Senate debate.)

Writer Jon Lackman tracked down Mr. Connelly and penned a piece about the chain e-mail he created for the September 2004 issue of Harper's magazine. Among other comments, Mr. Lackman noted:

The letter affects the polite, earnest tone of a man who has never before in his life held a political opinion. "I simply wanted to know if you possess the necessary qualifications to be trusted in that respect." "You see." "I found myself." Michael Connelly, Esq., in fact is a lifelong Republican who has volunteered on at least eight political campaigns and written several other partisan tracts. But he pretends to begin his investigation of Kerry from an agnostic, even hopeful position, and so his letter reads like a journey into disillusionment ...

To write this letter, Connelly told me, he did "quite a lot of research," adding that his research began at the website of Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry — a stew of misinformation, including this particular canard [about Kerry's earning a Silver Star in Vietnam for "chasing down and finishing off a wounded and retreating enemy soldier"]. (Kerry's Silver Star was awarded for his command of a six-man swiftboat in a dangerous raid, of which his own pursuit of a fleeing enemy soldier was — for better or worse — merely the final act.) Typically the "facts" in these chain emails have been cribbed directly off right-wing websites, after which the emails themselves are posted to even more websites. Soon, lo and behold, a lie is so widespread that it can, with plausible deniability, be disseminated by a more established source. For example, a chain letter about Kerry's supposed Senate votes on military spending was recently repackaged as a "Research Briefing" for the website of the Republican Party.

Two years later, Senator Kerry touched off another pre-election political firestorm with a comment he made while at a campaign rally for California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides at Pasadena City College. There, while speaking from prepared remarks to a group of students, he said, "You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Senator Kerry's statement was quickly and widely criticized as a disparaging suggestion that members of the U.S. military were uneducated. Kerry maintained that his quip was a "botched joke" and was "not about, and never intended to refer to, any troops." It was, he said, a jab a President Bush's Iraq policy that didn't come off and had originally been scripted thusly: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren’t smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."

That comment prompted another widely-circulated "soldier's letter" to the senator:

A Marine In Iraq Responds to Senator John Kerry

(The following letter was written by my husband, Aaron, who is currently deployed to Iraq, in defense of a recent comment made by Senator John Kerry. Pass it along, it might inspire someone else to speak up! - Michelle)

The other day - John Kerry said,

"You know education..If you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well, and if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

So I wrote him a letter:

I am a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. I am currently on my second tour in Iraq, a tour in which I volunteered for. I speak Arabic and Spanish and I plan to tackle Persian Farsi soon. I have a Bachelors and an Associates Degree and between deployments I am pursuing an M.B.A. In college I was a member of several academic honor societies, including the Golden Key Honor Society. I am not unique among the enlisted troops. Many of my enlisted colleagues include lawyers, teachers, mechanics, engineers, musicians and artists just to name a few. You say that your comments were directed towards the President and not us. If we were stupid Senator Kerry, we might have believed you.

I am not a victim of President Bush. I proudly serve him because he is my Commander and Chief. If it was you who was President, I would serve you just as faithfully. I serve America Senator Kerry, and I am also
providing a service to the good people of Iraq. I have not terrorized them in the middle of the night, raped them or murdered them as you have accused me of before. I am doing my part to help them rebuild. My role is a simple one, but important. You see Senator Kerry, like it or not, we came here and removed a tyrant (who terrorized Iraqis in the middle of the night, and raped them and murdered them). And we have a responsibility to see to it that another one doesn't take his place. The people of Iraq are recovering from an abusive relationship with a terrible government and its going to take some time to help them recover from that. We can't treat this conflict like a microwave dinner and throw a temper tantrum because we feel like its taking too long.

Senator Kerry, you don't have to agree with this war. You don't have to say nice things about those of us who choose to make sacrifices for the rights of every American rather than sit back and simply feel entitled to it. But please Senator Kerry, if you're going to call me a stupid murdering rapist, stick by what you say. Don't tell me that I misunderstood or that you would never insult a veteran because you are one too. Having been there and done that does not give you a free pass to insult me.

My suggestion for you, Senator Kerry, is to remember that your speeches are recorded, and broadcast to us simpletons over here. You may want to work on the delivery of what's written for you by your spin doctors - say it back to them so they can tell you what the presentation sounds like, how others might interpret what you say.. Remember that we can't read your mind. If there are any misinterpretations in what you say, it's because YOU didn't communicate clearly.

Good luck to you Senator Kerry, if nothing else it's always entertaining to watch you try and climb out of the holes that you constantly dig for yourself.


Somebody who is watching his daughter grow up in photographs so that you can have the right to say whatever you want about him.

Last updated:   12 November 2006

  Sources Sources:

    Lackman, Jon.   "Chain of Fools."

    Harper's.   September 2004   (pp. 54-55).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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