I went to dinner with an old friend last night, a former swift boat commander in Vietnam.

My friend was in charge of one of those now-famous swift boats in more or less the same area of Vietnam as John Kerry (search), just after Kerry got an early ticket home by getting his third purple heart.

My friend spent some time in a hospital wounded and returned to duty to complete his year in Vietnam.

He's a little bothered about Kerry's three purple hearts, but he says what Kerry did in Vietnam and how he got his medals and ribbons just doesn't matter to him.

What does matter is what Kerry said in the U.S. Senate in 1971 — the subject of the latest Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search) ad.

When Kerry said American soldiers and sailors and Marines were routinely committing war crimes and that these atrocities were standard operating procedure, my friend — the swift boat commander — was hurt and angry but until now, unable to speak out or get back at Kerry in any meaningful way.

So while he doesn't question what Kerry did in the war, he is quietly cheering the slings and arrows Kerry is now suffering for what he did when he got back from the war.

For that, my friend thinks he and all his other anonymous comrades in arms deserve the right to hold a grudge against Kerry ... even if it is a grudge nursed over 30 years.

In his view, chickens do come home to roost... even very old chickens.

That's My Word.

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