Bolstered by appearances by current and former Republican Members of Congress, a filmmaker is scheduled to unveil a new documentary today that explores how anti-war comments made three decades ago by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) affected soldiers and veterans in the Vietnam War.
The screening of the film “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” this morning at the Reserve Officers Association is the latest salvo in a fierce war of words over the Democratic candidate’s record during and after his service in Vietnam.
The event is slated to include remarks by former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) at a press conference prior to a screening. Sources said that Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) would likely attend the viewing of the film.
An aide to Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) said that her boss had also been invited to attend the event, but at press time was not certain he could make it.
According to a news release, the 45-minute independent film, funded entirely with donations from Pennsylvania veterans, features ex-POWs describing “their compelling and chilling stories of brutal life as prisoners of war in North Vietnam and the additional suffering and extended captivity they endured [under] their North Vietnamese captors” following Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the spring of 1971.
“Intended or not, Lt. Kerry painted a depraved portrait of Vietnam veterans, literally creating the image of those that served in combat as deranged, drug-addicted psychopaths, baby killers,” Vietnam veteran Carlton Sherwood, the producer of the film, remarked in one excerpt viewed by Roll Call.
“It was his evil American soldier on a bloody rampage that filled the screens and lined the pockets of producers of films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Casualties of War,” Sherwood continued in the excerpt.
The documentary — which Sherwood said took him two months, day and night, to put together — features numerous clips of former American POWs and their wives describing Kerry as everything from a liar to a war criminal and accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of having caused the Vietnam War to drag on for an additional two years.
Sherwood is a three-time Purple Heart recipient who has earned a living as a journalist in recent years. He is currently president of Red, White & Blue Productions Inc., a Harrisburg, Pa.-based company that produced the film.
In an interview Wednesday, the veteran-turned-journalist predicted that POWs will fuel the next wave of criticism directed at Kerry — one he predicted could easily turn into a tsunami.
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — a independent 527 group that attacked Kerry’s war record through television advertisements — “were the only Vietnam veterans who in 35 years have stood up and actually said, ‘We’re not going to take this,’” Sherwood said. “The POWs will be the next group to stand up and say ‘We’re not going to let this stand.’”
But Sherwood also predicted it could become a “much larger issue” because “it involves more men — 2.5 million veterans who served in Vietnam.”
Several former POWs, including at least two who appeared in the Swift Boat group’s ads, are also slated to appear at today’s unveiling of the documentary, according to the press release.
Ken Cordier, a retired Air Force colonel who resigned as an adviser to President Bush’s reelection campaign after appearing in a Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad, is scheduled to appear today, as is Paul Galanti, who also appeared in a Swift Boat ad.
The Kerry campaign did not respond to a call seeking comment on the documentary.
However, Democrats are firing anew at President Bush’s service record in the Vietnam era. The party seized on reports in The Boston Globe and elsewhere highlighting newly released documents that showed that Bush failed to meet his entire military obligation with the Texas Air National Guard.
“Either George Bush was deliberately lying to the American public or he had some type of severe memory loss,” Democratic Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe told reporters during a conference call to discuss what he billed the “shocking revelations.”
According to the Globe, a re-examination of Bush’s records showed that the president’s “attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974. … But they did neither.”