A front-page story in this morning’s New York Sun by Thomas Lipscomb points to a document indicating that John Kerry initially received a less than honorable discharge from the U.S. Naval Reserves:
An official Navy document on Senator Kerry’s campaign Web site listed as Mr. Kerry’s “Honorable Discharge from the Reserves” opens a door on a well kept secret about his military service.
The document is a form cover letter in the name of the Carter administration’s secretary of the Navy, W. Graham Claytor. It describes Mr. Kerry’s discharge as being subsequent to the review of “a board of officers.” This in it self is unusual. There is nothing about an ordinary honorable discharge action in the Navy that requires a review by a board of officers.
According to the secretary of the Navy’s document, the “authority of reference” this board was using in considering Mr. Kerry’s record was “Title 10, U.S. Code Section 1162 and 1163. “This section refers to the grounds for involuntary separation from the service. What was being reviewed, then, was Mr. Kerry’s involuntary separation from the service. And it couldn’t have been an honorable discharge, or there would have been no point in any review at all. The review was likely held to improve Mr. Kerry’s status of discharge from a less than honorable discharge to an honorable discharge.
A Kerry campaign spokesman, David Wade, was asked whether Mr. Kerry had ever been a victim of an attempt to deny him an honorable discharge. There has been no response to that inquiry.
The document is dated February 16, 1978. But Mr. Kerry’s military commitment began with his six-year enlistment contract with the Navy on February 18, 1966. His commitment should have terminated in 1972. It is highly unlikely that either the man who at that time was a Vietnam Veterans Against the War leader, John Kerry, requested or the Navy accepted an additional six year reserve commitment. And the Claytor document indicates proceedings to reverse a less than honorable discharge that took place sometime prior to February 1978.
Registration is required to read the whole article on the Sun‘s web site, but the article was re-posted here (scroll down to ord33’s post at 7:56 am). I hope the blogosphere can shed more light on this.
Update: A reader who served in Vietnam comments:
I was involuntarily discharged (from the Air Force) because I was passed over for promotion twice. I am technically still in the Reserves, and continue with a Reserve commission, though I am not in a unit. I automatically received a review board to ensure that I was treated fairly. It is also possible that he was challenging something in his record (maybe a purple heart that wasn’t listed!) to have it corrected. Given the time period, it was very likely that Kerry had been RIFed (Reduction-In-Force), and was getting a review to ensure that he wasn’t let go unnecessarily…
And Robb from Sharp as a Marble adds:
As much as I can’t stand Kerry, I have to point out an error in your title of your post.
As a former Marine, I have an honorable discharge. Dishonorable is the worst of the worst in discharges. I have an uncle who got one and he had a hard time getting a job at McDonald’s due to it. Kerry may have had Under Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge or an Under Honorable Conditions Discharge that he wanted to conceal.
There are several other “Other than Honorable” type discharges that do not involve any sort of criminal activity that a dishonorable carries. It would be more accurate to question his Honorable Discharge than to claim a Dishonorable.
For a good overview, try here.
Noted. I have changed the title of the post as a result of Robb’s input.
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