How Kerry Earned His Decorations

  • Share
  • Read Later
Kerry is one of the Senate's most decorated veterans — though he has far fewer medals than friend John McCain — and his record is impressive for an officer who spent just 10 months in Vietnam. Each of the medals below came with a matching ribbon. Kerry wore his ribbons when he testified before a Senate committee in 1971; the next day, joining hundreds of other vets, he lobbed them at the Capitol.

Silver Star
What is it for? Gallantry in action


LATEST COVER STORY
Mind & Body Happiness
Jan. 17, 2004
 

SPECIAL REPORTS
 Coolest Video Games 2004
 Coolest Inventions
 Wireless Society
 Cool Tech 2004


PHOTOS AND GRAPHICS
 At The Epicenter
 Paths to Pleasure
 Quotes of the Week
 This Week's Gadget
 Cartoons of the Week


MORE STORIES
Advisor: Rove Warrior
The Bushes: Family Dynasty
Klein: Benneton Ad Presidency


CNN.com: Latest News

Why did Kerry get it? Kerry led three swift boats up a canal on Feb. 28, 1969, and ordered a daring attack on Viet Cong positions. When his boat took rocket fire, Kerry directed his crew to head straight for the beach, taking the guerrilla with the rocket launcher by surprise. Kerry jumped ashore and killed him

Bronze Star
What is it for? Heroic or meritorious service

Why did Kerry get it? On the Bay Hap River on March 13, 1969, a mine exploded under Kerry's boat, driving shrapnel into his arm and knocking Green Beret Jim Rassmann overboard. Despite heavy fire, Kerry turned the boat around and pulled Rassmann back on board with his good arm

Purple Heart
What is it for? Being wounded in action

Why did Kerry get it? He earned three Purple Hearts (the second and third are represented by gold stars), all for shrapnel wounds. His arm was scratched during a night patrol in December 1968. His left thigh was hit during a V.C. attack in February 1969. The March 13 injury, his third, entitled him to return home, and he did

Combat Action Ribbon
What is it for? Ground combat while serving in the Navy

Why did Kerry get it? As the commander of a Navy swift boat, he went ashore several times in pursuit of Viet Cong

Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
What is it for? Heroism of a unit in combat

Why did Kerry get it? For participating in Operation Swift Raider, a campaign of boat attacks on enemy strongholds and sanctuaries

Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon
What is it for? Heroism of a unit

Why did Kerry get it? For participating in the Rach Gia interdiction, river patrols aimed at stopping Viet Cong infiltration from Cambodia

National Defense Service Medal
What is it for? Honorable active-duty service

Why did Kerry get it? For his service on the U.S.S. Gridley, a guided-missile frigate, from 1967 to 1968

Vietnam Service Medal
What is it for? Six months service in the Vietnam conflict

Why did Kerry get it? For his tour on the Gridley, which supported an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin

Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
What is it for? Awarded by South Vietnam to U.S. units for valorous combat achievements

Why did Kerry get it? For service on the swift boats

Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions
What is it for? Awarded by South Vietnam to U.S. units for meritorious civil-action service

Why did Kerry get it? For service on the swift boats

Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
What is it for? Awarded by South Vietnam for six-months service in Vietnam

Why did Kerry get it? For his tour of duty aboard the Gridley