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Kerry's Purple Hearts

I wish there was more of this kind of reporting.
Campaign Desk asked the Navy for some facts regarding the awarding of these medals.

No soldier determines if he is eligible for a Purple Heart; only his commander can determine that specific U.S. Navy criteria have been met for the award.

Kerry's commander, Lt. Cmdr. Hibbard, says he was skeptical at the time. But either he signed the recommendation or another commander stepped in to do so.

The severity of the injury... apparently does not bear on whether a soldier qualifies for a Purple Heart.... Kerry's wound was treated by a medical officer, who removed the shrapnel and applied an antiseptic.

Enemy fire is essential for any soldier to receive a Purple Heart.... "enemy-related injuries" [are defined] as those incurred when a solider is "struck by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action."

Also under dispute is whether Kerry was ordered out of Vietnam after his third Purple Heart or he requested to be transferred out.

The policy in question... is no longer in place. During Vietnam, it mandated that any soldier "wounded three times, regardless of the nature of the wound or treatment required" should be "reassigned as having completed a full Vietnam tour with the hospital release date considered the tour completion date. They will not be ordered to Vietnam ..."

Furthermore, the official U.S. Navy document states that, "The commanding officer of an officer who is hospitalized and/or wounded under the above criteria will advise the Chief of Naval Personnel (Pers-B1) of the officer's location, duty status, and expected duration of hospitalization. Reassignment of the officer will be determined after consideration of his physical classification and on an individual basis."

An additional, virtually unreported section of the Navy code, notes that any soldier wishing to "waive reassignment under the purview of this Instruction must forward a written request to that effect to the Chief of Naval personnel (Pers-B) for final determination."

Kerry, of course, chose not to waive this order, and his commanding officers request for re-assignment can be viewed on the candidate's Web site.

It's amazing how much it helps to have the facts. By the way, what was in those "hundreds" of Reserve records the Bush campaign released last month? I never heard any more about it.

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