Thursday, August 26, 2004

A Combat Surgeon Speaks

This piece is by a Vietnam combat surgeon, Dr. Martin Fackler. I admit that I wondered how John Kerry could get 3 purple hearts within 100 days and never once be hospitalized. Dr. Fackler talks about his experience with soldiers trying to get purple hearts with the most minor of wounds so they could get out of Vietnam. He points out:

"Is there any way we can determine who was telling the truth about this first Purple Heart? Yes, there is. The type of wound can reveal much about the weapon that caused it. The tiny sliver of metal and its very superficial penetration is typical of fragments from explosive devices — like grenades. It would not have resulted from the most likely gunfire from shore — small arms rifle fire. The AK 47 rifle, used by the enemy, fires a 30-caliber bullet, which is 50 times or more as heavy as the sliver of metal sticking in Lt. Kerry's skin. Such a bullet would have passed through any part of his body it struck, and certainly no part of it would have remained sticking in his skin.

In the absence of the medical records that Mr. Kerry apparently declines to make public, the only details we have about his second and third Purple Hearts are that he also based them on wounds too minor to require hospitalization. My reason for refusing to verify insignificant wounds as the basis for a Purple Heart was the regulation covering Purple Heart awards. In Part B, Paragraph 2, of the Army Purple Heart Regulation (600-8-22 of 25 February 1995), we find "the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer."

Dr. Louis Letson was entirely correct in turning down Lt. Kerry's first Purple Heart — even if the wound had been the result of enemy action. Can there be any doubt that the tiny metal sliver could have been removed easily, and safely, by a Navy corpsman? It certainly did not "require" treatment by a medical officer (an MD). " (Emphasis mine)

Senator Kerry MUST sign form 180 and release his medical records--if he wants to put an end to this controversy. The fact that he continues to refuse to do so only gives more credence to Dr. Fackler's analysis.

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