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Phillip Butler: “A Former POW Speaks Out” About John Kerry

by Pamela Leavey

Doctor Phillip Butler, a former POW, speaks out about the lies and partisan attacks on John Kerry from the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” The 2004 election may be over but the partisan attacks continue…

A Former POW Speaks Out
Phillip Butler | July 26, 2006

As a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, I read with great sadness a recent article authored by retired Air Force Col. George E. “Bud” Day, and released from the “Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation,” a group that was formerly known as the infamous “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” They may have changed their name, but they have not changed their tradition of lies and distorted facts.

In the press release, Col. Day resumes the vicious partisan attacks his group honed against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, an attack which our fellow POW, Senator John McCain aptly described as “dishonest and dishonorable.” Day claims that he speaks “for a vast majority of Vietnam veterans who believe he [Kerry] betrayed them 35 years ago” and that “…John Kerry’s deliberate betrayal of his countrymen … alone compelled many POWs and most Vietnam veterans, Swift Boaters included, to stand firm against this poser, this strutting would-be hero and turncoat.”

I was captured on April 20th of 1965 and released on February 12th of 1973, making me the 8the longest-held POW in Vietnam. During one period, November of 1969 till May of 1972, I was incarcerated in a camp we named “Camp Unity,” part of the “Hanoi Hilton,” with hundreds of my fellow POWs. During this time I shared a 40-man cell with Ken Cordier, and in the adjoining cell were Paul Galanti and Jim Warner who recently were active in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth negative campaign. Contrary to statements by these men, none of us ever heard about John Kerry’s testimony or statements against the Vietnam War while we were in captivity. I remember. I was there.

The great majority of us were mentally, emotionally, and physically tortured by our Vietnamese captors. We often suffered from malnutrition, diseases and isolation. Many of our comrades died in captivity under these conditions. Our experiences there, even in the best of times, was stressful and no one who was ever held captive as a POW in Vietnam will ever completely put the experience behind them.

But what sustained all of us during those terrible years was our supportive brotherhood, because every POW relied on his brothers for survival — a bond that transcended any differences in race, rank or politics. Just before our repatriation in 1973 we formed a fraternal group, “The Fourth Allied POW Wing,” also known as “Nam POWs.” It was to be an apolitical and fraternal organization of those who “returned with honor.”

And it wasn’t until 2004 that the fraternal bond was broken and many former POWs were stunned and sickened to see a small number of our former cellmates enter the political fray with the negative Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry. Regretfully, many of us remained silent as a multi-million dollar political smear campaign diminished and denigrated Kerry’s service in Vietnam.

Day, Cordier, Galanti and Warner have claimed to speak for most veterans and POWs. But they only spoke for a small group of ultra right-wing ideologues. In his renewed attacks on Senator Kerry this week, Day recycles the same personal vitriol and falsehoods about Kerry’s “betrayal” of our fellow veterans that his organization trademarked in 2004.

The real truth is John Kerry is a Vietnam Veteran who fought heroically and was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service. But he is also courageous for coming home and telling Americans the truth about the Vietnam War. John Kerry has continued to honorably and selflessly serve his country to this day. And I am proud, as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, as a former Navy Light Attack carrier pilot, as a retired Navy Commander, as a Vietnam veteran and former POW, to call Senator John Kerry a Vietnam brother whom I honor and respect.

6 Responses to “Phillip Butler: “A Former POW Speaks Out” About John Kerry”

  1. Thanks Commander,

    For writing this, and I hope you speak publicly to this issue every time these disgusting liars open their diseased maws.

    I spent a year around Chu Lai, Vietnam with the Marines in 65/66 and when I came back to the World I too joined in the protests against that misbegotten adventure.

    I look back on my protest activities from the vantage point of my sixties with pride in that period of my life.

    While I am unashamedly proud of every man who served and fought in Vietnam, I am also proud of those who returned to raise their voices aganst the madness being performed in America’s name.

    Bob Higgins
    Worldwide Sawdust

  2. I distinctly remember (and probably have in a file somewhere) Phillip Butler’s comments during the ’04 campaign. It is clearly in his character to speak truth to power, regardless of conflict or pain.

    I have worked with veterans from every war since WWI in my 30 years in nursing. They are a standout group that has been mariginalized in unbelievable ways.

    The SBFT group has added to their pain in a truly cruel way. Anticipating the honorable reaction of vets – to not stoop to the level of the SBVT, refraining from openly refuting the lies of their fellow vets- was part of the psy-ops plan that must have been developed. The SBFT are operating as political agents, not veterans.

    Katherine Yurica, at Theocracy Watch, has been exposing this political agenda with gut wrenching detail. [Paul Weyrich is one of the leaders of the fundamentalist movement to recreate America as a Christian theocracy. With funding from Joseph Coors and Richard Mellon-Scaiffe, he started the Heritage Foundation in ’73]

    To get a sense of how revolutionary the political fight for power in the U.S. is, we need to look at a few quotes from what has been dubbed, Paul Weyrich’s Teaching Manual,”” the Free Congress Foundation’s strategic plan on how to gain control of the government of the U.S. Written by Eric Heubeck, and titled, “The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement,” the document is no longer available at the Free Congress Foundation’s website for obvious reasons. But excerpts are published at the Yurica Report. The excerpts explain why the Dominionists are winning; the tactics they endorse are sheer Machiavellian.

    I have paraphrased the four immoral principles of the Dominionist movement as the following:

    1) Falsehoods are not only acceptable, they are a necessity. The corollary is: The masses will accept any lie if it is spoken with vigor, energy and dedication.

    2) It is necessary to be cast under the cloak of “goodness” whereas all opponents and their ideas must be cast as “evil.”

    3) Complete destruction of every opponent must be accomplished through unrelenting personal attacks.

    4) The creation of the appearance of overwhelming power and brutality is necessary in order to destroy the will of opponents to launch opposition of any kind.

    Does this sound familiar? It should.

    What is bizarre to me is that this group is essentially a meld of the Christian Fundamentalist leaders who have fully embraced the Neocon agenda as the right thing to do for Christianity- in order to rebuild the country and the world as a covert Christian state. This is not a coalition of going along to get the combined power of both groups to get their separate goals. It is a blending of two groups going after the same goal from different starting points.
    The neocons just want the power and money. The Christians want the power, money and the restructuring of society to maintain the power and money using the ‘opium of the masses’.

  3. Sorry about the goof on the link.

    Just a footnote. Those 4 immoral principles of the Domionist Movement are essentially what religions have been using for millenia.

  4. Well, speaking of Kerry’s service record – anybody listen to Big Ed’s today? Now we find out why (sort of) Ed is sour on JK. Eddy’s upset about the way JK defended himself against the Swift Boat Liars!

    Okay, JK didn’t do a very good job defending himself, and we have heard some of the reasoning – the gap between the two conventions, and JK having to hold back on his because of monetary restrictions – due to the gap in conventions and when federal funding kicked in.

    The problem here is another gap. The gap between election day to a point a couple of months ago when JK was suppose to be on Ed’s show. Everything was pretty much fine until Kerry and Finegold offered their own plan for getting out of Iraq. Ed becomes unglued because Kerry (what happened to Finegold, Ed?) offed the alternative plan.

    It’s an interesting explanation Ed came up with. but I think there’s more to this then meets the eye. I’ve heard other people say JK should go on Ed’s show and explain his position. Hard to do when Ed controls the mike and he carries what seems to be a grudge.

    Eddie, what’s going on with you?

  5. Interesting observation BW.

    I agree, he should go back on the show (and do other talk shows) to set the record straight. (Interesting how they pass on Feingold). The negative press and double standard in the media isn’t helping much.

  6. Indie Liberal,

    There’s something more there then what Big Ed said today – even with the most current explanation…