February 13, 2004


Ann Coulter:

"Moreover, if we're going to start delving into exactly who did what back then, maybe Max Cleland should stop allowing Democrats to portray him as a war hero who lost his limbs taking enemy fire on the battlefields of Vietnam.

"Cleland lost three limbs in an accident during a routine noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix."

From the Atlanta Constitution:

"While disembarking from a transport helicopter [on April 8 near Khe Sanh], Capt. Cleland reached for a grenade he believed had become dislodged from his web gear. Later it was discovered that the grenade belonged to a young soldier new to the theater. That soldier had improperly prepared the grenade pin for easy detonation and had dropped it while coming off the helicopter. The grenade exploded and severely injured Capt. Cleland."

Here's a first-hand account:

"On April 4*, 1968, Price was with the Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines.
"Charlie Company was opening up Route 9 going into Khe Sanh, near the demilitarized zone between the then-separate North and South Vietnams, and had secured a mountaintop.
"Cleland, a captain in the Army Signal Corps, and his team flew by helicopter to the hill that Price and Charlie Company held to set up a radio relay tower.
"When the helicopter landed, Cleland and his soldiers jumped off and the helicopter immediately ascended.
"Then there was an explosion.
"Price, who was digging a foxhole, thought the blast might have been an enemy mortar round. It was common for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese to shoot at landing helicopters, Price said.
"This time, a soldier was severely wounded. It was Cleland and he had lost an arm and a leg. His other leg was badly mangled."

Also, for the record, Cleland's Silver Star citation, from 4 days before the grenade accident:

"Awarded: Silver Star; Date Action: 4 April 1968; Theater: Republic of Vietnam

"Action: For gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Captain Cleland distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 4 April 1968, while serving as communications officer of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry during an enemy attack near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam.

"When the battalion command post came under a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, Capt. Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions. Continuing to expose himself, Capt. Cleland organized his men into a work party to repair the battalion communications equipment which had been damaged by enemy fire. His gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

"Authority: By direction of the President, under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 9 July 1968."

*I believe this is meant to be April 8.

Posted by BruceR at 02:10 PM