This is an extract from the Vietnam diary of Jack Chenoweth, who commanded one of the five Swift boats involved in the March 13, 1969 incident that the Kerry campaign featured in its "No Man Left Behind" advertising and at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Kerry claimed that only his PCF-94 boat had turned back into an ambush, under withering enemy fire, to rescue Special Forces officer Jim Rassmann. However, the testimony of more than ten participants located by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth revealed that PCF-94 was actually the only boat to leave the area of the initial mine explosion, and that other boats were seconds away from picking up Rassmann when Kerry returned and pulled him out of the river. Chenoweth's diary entry provides additional evidence supporting the Swift Vets' account.

For a detailed analysis of the March 13, 1969 mission, including new reports from additional eyewitnesses, see Chapter 10 of To Set the Record Straight, "An Incident on the Bay Hap River."

[JC note: My account of the event actually starts on the evening of the 12th]

12 MAR 69 - ...Got a brief on the ops. Supposed to get underway at 0500 tomorrow and pick up RF/PF troops at Cai Nuoc for insertion along with the MSF. Hit the sack.

13 MAR 69 - up at 0400, found out I couldn't get underway in my boat (93), so supposed to take 23. Found out it was extremely unsatisfactory. Took 3 hours to get it squared away. It had been hit the night before, Bill Rood had an eye injury, but is okay, and the crew didn't think they were going anywhere except bact to An Thoi. Got underway at 0930. Went into Bay Hap alone. No incidents. Layed to at the mouth of the canal where the other boats (3,43,51,94) went in to insert troops. Sat there for about three hours. Finally the boats came out and we went up to Cai Nuoc. We were there for about 45 minutes. Pulled out with 3 leading left column followed by me (23), with 43, 51, & 94 on the right bank. [JC note: That is how we started but the 51 pulled in behind me on the left bank and 94 was ahead of 43 on the right bank] We were starting past the first group of fish stakes when the 3 boat was mined. My God, I've never seen anything like it. The boat was lifted, entirely, at least 6 feet out of the water. Then there was a fantastic flash, a boom, then the 3 boat disappeared in a fountain of water and debris. I was only 30 yards behind. I backed down full, veered off to the right as we unleashed everything into the banks. The 3 boat wandered aimlessly downstream. I pulled up to cover him. All of a sudden we spotted a man overboard. [JC note: Rassmann] Started to pick him up, but 94 got there first. Proceeded downstream. The 3 boat ran aground. 94 pulled him off. 43 and I proceeded on out with injured personnel.

[JC note: All of the injured, with the exception of Kerry were on 43 who we accompanied to the mouth of the river, both for protection and because I was rendezvousing with the mike boat from the LST.]

51 and 94 took 3 under tow. I rendezvoused with mike boat to pick up DC team and headed back for 3 boat. Met 3 boat and DC team went on board and started pumping. Later on, transfered body of MSF team to my boat, along with John Kerry, who had shrapnel in his hip and a possible broken arm. Took the body to the "T" and John to the Coast Guard Cutter. Got back to the "T" and went to bed.

[JC note: Kerry told me he had shrapnel in his hip and a possible broken arm, which was wrapped in what appeared to be a white t-shirt. The shrapnel in his hip was actually rice from the the grenade he tossed into the rice-filled container earlier in the day when I was not present. The possible broken arm, later determined to be a bruise, was apparently from being thrown against the door of the pilot house when his boat did an abrupt turn down river after he had fled the ambush scene.]


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