Wednesday, July 02, 2008
War Hero David Hackworth Had Low Opinion Of John McCain: Saw Ohio's John Glenn As Greater Figure
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Some veterans are doubtful about Sen. John McCain's status as a war hero. And David Hackworth -- who died in 2005 -- was among the sharpest critics. Hackworth received several awards for valor in Korea and Vietnam, and is considered one of the nation's greatest warriors. Before his death, he wrote that McCain is not in the same league as former Democratic Sen. John Glenn, a Marine pilot from Ohio who became the first American to orbit the earth:
"John McCain is being hailed in the press as a 'genuine war hero.' But is he a war hero in the conventional sense like Audie Murphy and John Glenn?"
Hackworth went on to answer the question in a column. Bottomline: He found McCain lacking, and noted the Republican presidential candidate actually spent less than 20 hours over the battlefields of Vietnam. McCain, of course, was held for more than five years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton prison camp. Hackworth was unimpressed. His words -- and other criticisms of McCain -- are turning up on a low-budget Web site called Vietnam Veterans Against McCain. It appeared earlier this year as the creation of a former supporter of the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth, a group that attacked John Kerry's service in Vietnam. That group formally disbanded and shut down its online portal five weeks ago.
So far, the Vietnam Veterans Against McCain haven't attracted much attention. And at the moment they are little more than a fringe organization. Can they metastasize? Or become influential? At this point, it looks like they will be fighting a losing battle. McCain's status as a war hero is a fixture in the popular imagination. His POW years and service as a naval aviator are key to his image and powerful during a time of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But some former soldiers and sailors clearly seem determined to seize upon and carve up McCain's role in Vietnam, which they contend has been made grander than reality. Even though Hackworth is gone, his words live on. And it looks like some vets who agree with him are signing up to enlist in the Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain.