A Navy report filed five days after a disputed mission in Vietnam supports Senator John Kerry's version of the incident and contradicts critics who say he never came under enemy gunfire when he won two medals.
A weekly report from the Navy task force overseeing Mr. Kerry's Swift boat squadron reported that his group of boats was fired on in the March 13, 1969, mission. Some of Mr. Kerry's critics, including several men who were on other boats that day, say there was no enemy gunfire in the incident, for which Mr. Kerry won a Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart.
The March 18, 1969, report from Task Force 115, which was located by The Associated Press in a search of Navy archives, is the latest document to surface that supports Mr. Kerry's description of the event. Crew members on Mr. Kerry's boat and a Special Forces soldier Mr. Kerry pulled from the water that day insist there was enemy fire. The task force report twice mentions the incident and both times calls it 'an enemy-initiated firefight' that included automatic weapons fire and underwater mines.
Task Force 115 was commanded at the time by Roy Hoffmann, the founder of the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which has been running advertisements challenging Mr. Kerry's account of the episode.
A member of the group, Larry Thurlow, said he stood by his assertion that there was no enemy fire that day. Mr. Thurlow, the commander of another boat who also won a Bronze Star, said task force commanders probably relied on the initial report of the incident. Mr. Thurlow says Mr. Kerry wrote that report.
The anti-Kerry group has not produced any official Navy documents supporting its claim.
The SVBT guys have about as much credibility now as George Bush himself. None.
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