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March 14, 2004

Can We All Just Remember This
The Next Time Kerry's War Record
Is Attacked as 'Not Impressive


Because it will be attacked again. He got out of there pretty quick after being injured three times. That's a mark of cowardice for some. They wre mere flesh wounds.

Well can we also remember this name - Jim Rassman (former Green Beret, retired California cop). He's a registered Republican now, who's life John Kerry saved March 13, 1969.

Others who stayed longer deserve MORE praise.

Well, perhaps. Perhaps not. I have no way of telling right now whether it is indicative of a trend, but a few Vietnam vets I have talked to say they stated because they really didn't have much to look forward to when they got back.

I'm sure that's a tiny percentage, but it underlines the fact that sometimes people didn't stick around for brave reasons.
Going from the tranquillity of his greenhouse to the chaos of the campaign trail grates against his nature. But here he is, bags packed, waiting for a call from the Kerry people about the next leg.

"I had no idea it would lead to this," Rassmann says.

He certainly had no intention of becoming anything as grand as a symbol. Rassmann says he holds a low opinion of politicians and politics in general, but he makes an exception for Kerry. He's prepared to campaign for the Massachusetts senator until November.

Why?

"I owe him," he says.

Rassmann abides by the old warrior's code that when a man saves you from death, you're in debt to him for life. He's paying his debt. When he tears up, something else becomes clear: The emotion isn't only for himself, but for all the friends he lost in the war.

There was Cal Courtemanche, a friend since childhood, who was shot in the chest during the Tet Offensive. There was Charles Hughes, a Special Forces commander machine-gunned to death. There was Ralph Cannon, killed after stepping over a spider hole occupied by two enemy soldiers.

Rassmann's unit lost five of 11 men. He remembers their names, ranks, the dates they were killed. He lists them like a roll call. And in a long, circuitous way, he explains the depth of his gratitude to Kerry: If it were not for him, Rassmann believes, his name would surely be on the list.
---
The reunion with Kerry began with violin music.

Just after New Year's, the Rassmanns were in Glendale visiting Jim's 82-year-old mother when they stepped into a Barnes & Noble to pick up a CD on operatic arias transcribed for violin. At the checkout counter, Rassmann saw Douglas Brinkley's new book on Kerry's Vietnam experience, "Tour of Duty," on a display stand.

Rassmann hadn't known about the book, and he hadn't seen or talked to Kerry since that day when the two briefly clasped hands in the Mekong Delta.

Rassmann eyed the book cover: It was John all right, his long, skinny face much the same as it is today. Rassmann picked up the book, stepped aside and began leafing through it. To his amazement, on pages 314 and 315, the author tells the story of what happened that day.
The rest of the story is
here.

But to anyone trying to unseat John Kerry, he is unpatriotic for not supporting Bush's way of doing things. To those who are saying this, they don't appreciate much. Disagree with him on other matters important to you, but to claim that the response to terrorism would be vastly different under Kerry - well, that argument doesn't get any respect.