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Kerry's #1 Flip Flop: Turning the Boat Around

As Bush continues his relentlessly negative campaign, Kerry stays on the high road, relying on his character and biography to clear off the mud.

Kerry's biggest flip-flop: turning back for a fallen soldier:

Kerry's turning point came March 13, when he was ordered with four other Swift boat officers to transport Vietnamese mercenaries and U.S. officers on a series of sweeps along the Bay Hap River. After a long day of shore skirmishes, the gunboats chugged directly into a gantlet of machine-gun fire and mines.

A blast rocked PCF-94, pitching Kerry against the bulkhead and wrenching his arm. Another charge blew Army Lt. James Rassman into the river from another boat. Rassman bobbed under a wild spray of Vietcong gunfire. His arm bleeding, Kerry ordered Sandusky to swing the boat around.

"Here comes Kerry charging up to the bow," Rassman recalled. "He kneeled down and grabbed my arm and pulled me over. What a dummy. It was miraculous neither of us were hit."

Kerry was awarded the Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart. With three decorated wounds, an obscure regulation allowed him to request reassignment — even back to the U.S. Kerry recalled one commander, Chuck Horne, telling him: "You've got a ticket home."


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