Apr 3, 2007

Smear Boat campaign in 2004 against veterans comes home to roost

I knew in 2004 when the Smear Boat Veterans tried to smear U.S. Sen. John Kerry and his military service it would have far reaching consequences to all other veterans, and it has.

The so-called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” tried to smear the Democratic Presidential nominee for his service and questioned the three Purple Hearts he earned as a Navy Lieutenant while serving as the commanding officer of a swift boat in Vietnam, and I said then they were really smearing me and every single veteran who ever earned a medal, citation or commendation. Questioning how he earned his Purple Hearts calls into question every single award ever earned by a every veteran everywhere.

Staff Sgt. Sean Knudsen of Howell is the latest victim of that smear campaign, and the 16-year veteran of the National Guard and Iraqi War veteran is being denied the Purple Heart he earned when he suffered shrapnel injuries to his head, left arm and shoulder in February 2005 when his convoy in Iraq was hit by small arms fire.

According to a story in the Detroit News, despite the fact the Department of Veterans Affairs has declared Knudsen disabled due to combat injuries, his application for a Purple Heart was denied. That’s totally illogical. Although the Army is refusing to say why it was denied it makes you wonder if perhaps the injures were not severe enough. That’s certainly one claim by the smear boat group.

The rules for earning a Purple Heart are pretty straightforward and unambiguous. It says “the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not "recommended" for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.” Both Sgt. Knudsen and Lt. Kerry have met those criteria.

It kind of sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

I hope Sgt. Knudsen and the other wounded Iraqi combat veterans get the Purple Hearts they deserve but were denied, and I also hope they never run for political office and a rightwing group questioning their service and awards tries to smear them. Apparently that smear group will have plenty of ammunition for their campaign.

Rep. Mike Rogers is involved in trying to remedy the situation, and I hope he helps. With his record of supporting this civil war, occupation and this administration he should have little trouble rectifying the situation.

It just makes me wonder where Mike Rogers was in 2004, and why he did not speak out when Lt. Kerry was being smeared for the exact same reason.


SSG Sean Knudsen said...

The Purple Heart Medal is in fact an award that is earned upon being wounded. Our nations founding father, George Washington made his case known in history that " Officers of the Armed Forces are not to decide who gets the medal rather, once a servicemember is wounded...they are entitled to the award." A key word that I want to emphasize in my fight for what I and so many more have earned and been denied is "competence." Had MAJ general Joseph Taluto followed army Regulation on numerous 4187's while reviewing earned Purple Heart Medal's, we wouldn't be on Capitol Hill or on CBS News pushing to reverse these blatant wrongfull denials.
Soldiers like myself that were wounded with shrapnel and still carry it, are walking proof of disobedience of duties by incompetent leaders that carry general stars on their shoulders. some leaders lead by their rank, some lead by their hearts.

Competent leaders follow regulations, Incompetent leaders fail to follow regulations. This was the case in too many situations in Iraq. Too many like myself were wounded, treated, and later denied proper recognition. Some leaders wear their rank for power, others wear it for the soldiers that serve under them.
War is a time that tries men's souls, it brings out who they really are and shows their true light. In this case, power and authority was used to deny instead of approve what was earned and belonged to the soldiers on the battle field.
In the end, history will look back on these denied Purple Heart Medals and find one name that represents failed senior military leadership. That name is Joseph Taluto, and his legacy will reach far beyond his distinguished service medal and bronze star medal. "A legacy that he has earned and a legacy that will be his to keep."

SSG Sean Knudsen
Howell, Michigan

Communications guru said...

Thank you for coming and speaking for yourself. I wish you luck in your quest, and if there is anything I can do to help right this wrong please let me know.

I am always amazed by the courage and fortitude of combat veterans. I spent 20 years in the Navy, and although I am very proud of my service, I must admit I was never fired on by an enemy combatant. The closest I came to war was in the first Gulf War when the frigate I was stationed on was stopping and boarding merchant ships in the Red Sea. I hope I would have acted as bravely as you and your fellow soldiers did if I were ever in the line of fire.

Good luck in getting what you deserve.

SSG Knudsen said...

Your more than welcome. Someone has to speak out for my fellow veterans and our rights. The swift boat guru's can say all they want about my wounds being "not severe enough" but infact the VA rated me 30% disabled later for those wounds from shrapnel. I carry two pieces of shrapnel in my head still as a reminder of that day in combat.

Be glad that you were never in a shoot out with an enemy sniper, mortared on too many occasions to count, have hearing loss and loss of feeling in your arm and hand. While many lost an arm or leg or eye sight, my losses are still being calculated.

My fight has been for the truth and for answers,and for fellow veterans who were legitimately wounded... not for the medal. The irony of this whole investigation is that less wounded soldiers that sustained wounds that were minimal and without disability factors and complications actually got the Purple Heart Medal! So, it's the integrity of leadership and military regulation that has come to light. Why would one soldier get a PH medal for a scratch or bruise while others are denied the PH medal for more serious wounds? That's another chapter that has yet to be investigated.

Cowards and crooks allow wounded soldiers to be denied. Congressman Mike Rogers of Brighton is leading our fight for what is rightfully ours.

I hope to never hear that my wounds were not severe enough to be awarded the PH medal, after all...soldiers with lesser wounds have theirs now don't they.......

SSG Knudsen

Anonymous said...

Sean Knudsen was in fact wounded by enemy fire more than once in Iraq. Once from small arms fire and another time from a mortar attack. His unit members can testify to those facts. The reason Sean was denied the Purple Heart was simply because his unit was covering the number of wounded in the 42nd Infantry Division. Sean still has shrapnel in his head in two places. The Secretary of the Army's office, The U.S. Surgeon general and the HASC confirmed that he still has shrapnel in his body. It was immoral and repulsive that any group that call themselves AMERICANS would call Seans wounds insufficient especially when the VA and an Army Medical Board found Sean NOT FIT FOR DUTY due to injuries from wounds sustained in action with an armed enemy. Shame on anyone who finds it within themselves to decide to deny a wounded soldier with wounds like Seans insufficient! Maybe they should be shot and sprayed with shrapnel in a war zone to know what it is like. Pick up a weapon and serve in the numerous places that Sean has, maybe then they that ran their democratic mouths will stand quiet.

Mike Halworth

Anonymous said...

Served with Sean in Central America and in the former Russian Baltics. This man needs more than a medal, he needs to be in Washington D.C. hammering cheap leaders that somehow find themselves in command of our nations sons and daughters. I wouldn't deny this soldier any recognition.

Iron Mike

Anonymous said...

This is such crap, I personally saw Sean's wounds. Is this for real? He had a tiny cut under his eye and a piece cut his sholder; no stiches needed. The reason he didnt get a Purple Heart is because it's a requirement to be seen by a Dr and he never had to go. The medics took care of him and we parked our vehicles on the FOB. What a fairy tale; Sean if you recived a CAB for it as well why didn't the whole convoy? I am a soldier, and I can look myself in the mirror.