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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Band of Brothers Should Hold Together

August 18, 2004

Sen. John Kerry's opponents claim he did not deserve his medals ("Veterans Battle Over the Truth," Aug. 17). This calls into question every medal awarded to every veteran. If Kerry were able to manipulate the process and his superiors to receive these medals, then it follows that any soldier could have done so. His opponents have done a great disservice to all veterans.

Their hatred of Kerry for protesting the war is the reason for this attack. Realizing that this would not resonate with the electorate, they have manufactured a new "scandal" with the hope of helping President Bush defeat him. In the process they have brought dishonor to themselves and their fellow veterans.

Michael Stark

Santa Monica

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The article describes John O'Neill, author of "Unfit for Command," as a "longtime Kerry foe." This does not adequately identify their connection. When Kerry came home from Vietnam, where his heroic bravery earned him the right to speak out against the policies of war, his eloquence and passion terrified President Nixon, whose administration was rooted in webs of deception that would ultimately bring it down.

These masters of deceit sought and found an equally young, equally eloquent recent veteran to try to discredit Kerry. O'Neill has always been nothing more than a cheap puppet for manipulative liars trying to smear the character of one of our true heroes.

Douglas Dunn

Escondido

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I served as a 19-year-old medic with the 101st Airborne Division in Phu Bai, Vietnam, in 1970 and 1971. Once home, I came to have grave doubts about the war, but I never doubted my fellow veterans. When we returned, being a veteran was not something one could share with most other Americans. But the veterans with whom I shared that experience were always generous and mutually supportive of each other.

I now feel almost disgusted to call myself a veteran. That fellow veterans are willing to make a vicious attack on one of their own is truly despicable. Such attacks, like those against Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war, and former Sen. Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in his service to his country, bring us back to the time after the war when being a veteran was a mark of slander, not an honor. Kerry's service is a matter of public record. So is the service, or lack thereof, of Bush, Vice President Cheney and the other candidates who benefit from such slanderous attacks.

I renounce my fellow veterans who are willing to be exploited into such attacks against their own, and renounce my association as any kind of fellow veteran of theirs.

Michael Patrick Hughes

Los Angeles

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