Normally I would not write this post, but I am doing it in memory of a good friend of mine, Ed Schwebel, 63, an actual Vietnam veteran who died on May 11, 2010, after falling from a ladder while working on his home. Ed and I were F-4 Phantom instructors in the 35th Tactical Training Squadron at George Air Force Base, California, from 1973 – 1976. Before becoming an F-4 instructor, Ed flew F-4s in combat over North Vietnam, South Vietnam and Laos in 1972. Part of that time Ed was an Owl forward air controller. The Owl’s were fast FACs that hung it all out directing other fighters to drop bombs on the bad guys. Ed was a true patriot and hero and I will miss him.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Chris Dodd. In March of 2008, Mr. Blumenthal said in a speech in Norwalk, Connecticut, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.” Richard Blumenthal is a despicable liar who should not hold any public office. He did not serve in Vietnam. He did serve six years in the Marine Reserve, but never left the safety of the United States.
At an emergency press conference he called on May 18, 2010, at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford to try to put out the growing fire that threatens to kill his chances for being elected, Richard Blumenthal said:
“”On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that. And I take full responsibility, but I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”
Earth to Blumenthal: You are the person who impugned your record of service by lying about it. You did not serve in Vietnam. You said you served in Vietnam on many occasions to the numerous groups to whom you boasted spoke.
Why did Mr. Blumenthal hold his “I’m being persecuted” press conference at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post? Didn’t he realize that he is not a veteran of a foreign war? Perhaps he wanted to send a subtle message that he may not have served in Vietnam, but he was a veteran of a foreign war.
Blumenthal got five deferments to avoid the draft and Vietnam before he joined the Marine Reserves. I turned 18 in 1966 and spent the next four years in college. I remember those years and the efforts taken by many of my friends to avoid being drafted. I had a student deferment during my undergraduate college days. Student deferments were very common and easy to get. As long as you were enrolled in college and attending class full time and pursuing a degree, you got an automatic deferment.
When the U.S. adopted the draft lottery system on December 1, 1969, the rules changed substantially. Those with high draft numbers knew they would never be called and no longer needed a deferment. Those of us with lower numbers (mine was 186) continued to be eligible to be drafted. The highest number drafted of those in the 1969 lottery (850,000 men) was 195. See lottery facts. I knew I would be drafted after graduating from Penn State in May of 1970 so I joined the USAF to avoid being drafted into the Army. Around graduation time I did get a draft notice to appear for a physical, but that caused me to complete my joining of the USAF.
Richard Blumenthal joined the Marine Reserves to avoid going to Vietnam. That’s what thousands of other draft eligible men did. I don’t have a problem with anybody who joined the military reserves or the National Guard during the Vietnam years, including people who joined specifically to avoid being sent to Vietnam. Military service is military service period. Although everybody knew that chances of a reserve or guard unit being sent to Vietnam was slim, it was also possible that the President could change his mind or that events in the war might require that reserve or guard units be sent to fight. Service in Vietnam was still a risk for everybody in the guard or reserves during 1964 – 1972. One of my fraternity brothers flew the EC-121 radar surveillance airplane out of a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Air National Guard Unit. He and his crew were sent to fly missions in Vietnam.
Richard Blumenthal says he did not get into the Marine Reserves because of somebody pulling strings. I doubt it. My recollection is that it was virtually impossible to get into the guard or the reserves during the Vietnam war years because every unit had a waiting list a mile long of people who wanted to avoid being sent to Vietnam. Lots of my college fraternity brothers tried to get into the guard or reserves to avoid going to the war. Only one got in, my friend that flew the EC-121. I don’t know for a fact, but I suspect his family pulled some strings to get him into the Air National Guard.
I had several Penn State football players in my fraternity who went on to play pro football. I remember them telling me that it was routine in the late 1960s for professional football teams to get their new players into a guard or reserve unit in the team’s city. After all, the pro teams did not want to lose their substantial monetary investment in young talent who might suddenly be drafted and unavailable for two years.
For the record, I got a student deferment that allowed me to avoid being drafted while I attended Penn State. I joined the USAF because I did not want to be drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam. In the spring of 1971 I picked the F-4 Phantom supersonic fighter bomber as the airplane I would fly because I had a long love affair with the airplane, the Vietnam air war was winding down because few U.S. ground troops remained in South Vietnam and I thought it was unlikely that I would be sent to the war.
In April of 1972, the North Vietnam regular army invaded South Vietnam. This massive invasion was repelled by the U.S. sending all available F-4 units to Vietnam to provide air support. All but three people in my F-4 training class at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, were sent to F-4 units in South Vietnam or Thailand in May of 1972. Me and another guy were ordered to the 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, Korea. The third guy was sent to Clark Air Base in the Philippines, but his unit was actually on temporary duty in Thailand. My squadron was also TDY to the southeast Asia war games, first at Danang Air Base, South Vietnam, then at Korat Air Base, Thailand so all of my attempts to avoid being sent to the Vietnam war only delayed the inevitable.
Below are more stories about Richard Blumenthal’s lie that he was a Marine who served in Vietnam:
1. New York Times: “Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History”
“what is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events.”
2. New York Times: “Ex-Congressman Saw Blumenthal’s Claims Evolve”
“Former Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, a Republican who says he is a good friend of Richard Blumenthal’s, said in an interview Tuesday that he had watched with worry as Mr. Blumenthal gradually embellished his military record over the years.”
3. New York Times: “Mr. Blumenthal’s Misdirection”
“There are few sins less forgivable in American politics than claiming unearned military valor. Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut, may consider his false claim to have served in Vietnam to be “a few misplaced words,” as he put it on Tuesday, but, in fact, this deception seems to have been part of a larger pattern of misleading voters.”
4. New York Times: “Campaign in Damage Control Over ‘a Few Misplaced Words’” This story quotes Blumenthal saying in a recent debate with Republican Merrick Alpert:
““Although I did not serve in Vietnam, I have seen firsthand the effects of military action.”
This statement contains another Blumenthal lie about his service. He did not see the effects of military action. He did not serve in a war zone or see the consequences or affects of military action. How is it possible for Richard Blumenthal to see “firsthand the effects of military action” from thousands of miles away from the action?
5. New York Post: “Time for war-story windbag to surrender”
“‘Since the days that I served in Vietnam,’ and, ‘When we returned,’ are not ‘misplaced words.’ They are more accurately known as ‘lies’.”
6. New York Times: “The Technicality Generation”
“The concept of using legal technicalities to evade responsibility has been carried over to playing with derivatives, or to short-changing shareholders. Once my generation got in the habit of saying one thing and believing another, it couldn’t stop.”
7. Washington Post: “Vietnam allegations threaten frontrunning Blumenthal in CT-Senate”
8. Associated Press: “Blumenthal denies trying to mislead on Vietnam”
“Blumenthal intimated more than once that he was a victim of the abuse heaped on Vietnam veterans upon their return home.”
9. Real Clear Politics: video of Blumenthal’s I misspoke news conference
10. Capitol Watch: Merrick Alpert, Blumenthal’s opponent for the Democratic Senate nomination said:
“As a citizen and as candidate, it’s shocking . . . to see him lie about serving in Vietnam. He was a coward to go and get five deferments and he’s clearly a liar for standing up for his own political benefit years later. . . It’s disgraceful behavior from someone who is clearly not qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate.”
11. Politico: “Dems still back Richard Blumenthal“
12. Rasmuessen Reports: “Connecticut Senate: Blumenthal Loses Ground, Leads McMahon By Just Three Points“
13. Hot Air: “Blumenthal lead drops to … three“
14. Washington Post: “Richard Blumenthal can’t have it both ways on Vietnam“
“He should have dispensed with the mistakes-were-made tap dance and offered a full-fledged apology.”
“‘I will take full responsibility,’ says a guy who’s (a) surrounded himself with vets to provide moral cover, (b) in the midst of lying his ass off about how he supposedly mixed up the concepts of serving ‘in’ a war rather than ‘during’ it, and (c) shamelessly insisting that people are impugning his service when no one’s doing any such thing.”
17. Slate: “Blumenthal’s Draft-Ducking Dance” “He wasn’t the only one to cheat the draft. But he might have been among the best.”