WASHINGTON – The Navy's chief investigator concluded Friday that procedures were followed properly in the approval of Sen. John Kerry's (search) Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, according to an internal Navy memo.
Vice Adm. R.A. Route, the Navy inspector general, conducted the review of Kerry's Vietnam-ear military service awards at the request of Judicial Watch (search), a public interest group. The group has also asked for the release of additional records documenting the Democratic presidential candidate's military service.
Judicial Watch had requested in August that the Navy open an investigation of the matter, but Route said in an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press that he saw no reason for a full-scale probe.
"Our examination found that existing documentation regarding the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals indicates the awards approval process was properly followed," Route wrote in the memo sent Friday to Navy Secretary Gordon England (search).
"In particular, the senior officers who awarded the medals were properly delegated authority to do so. In addition, we found that they correctly followed the procedures in place at the time for approving these awards."
Some veterans have challenged Kerry's version of the circumstances surrounding the incident that led to his Silver Star award for battlefield heroism, as well as his three Purple Heart medals.
The Silver Star was awarded for his actions in pursuit of enemy forces while commander of swift boat unit PCF-94 in Vietnam in February 1969.
Judicial Watch also asked the Navy inspector general to investigate Kerry's anti-war activities after he returned from Vietnam and left active duty.
The group's president, Tom Fitton, called Route's review a "whitewash" and said Judicial Watch would "appeal as appropriate."
"The Navy IG obviously is afraid of the political ramifications of a thorough investigation into a presidential candidate's service record," Fitton said in a statement.
Route concluded that there was no justification for looking further into the decisions to award the medals or the anti-war activities.
"Conducting any additional review regarding events that took place over 30 years ago would not be productive," he wrote. "The passage of time would make reconstruction of the facts and circumstances unreliable, and would not allow the information gathered to be considered in the context of the time in which the events took place.
"Our review also considered the fact that Senator Kerry's post-active duty activities were public and that military and civilian officials were aware of his actions at the time. For these reasons, I have determined that Senator Kerry's awards were properly approved and will take no further action in this matter."