Published January 14, 2015
A controversy has re-emerged over the home movie footage John Kerry (search) shot of himself during his wartime service in Vietnam, with a former crewmate and critic of Kerry's saying that he re-enacted battle scenes at sites after the skirmishes had ended.
"Unfit for Command," an as-yet unreleased book by John O'Neill (search), who took over command of Kerry's swift boat after Kerry left Vietnam (search), depicts at least one alleged re-enactment incident. Another book, "Reckless Disregard," is said to contain more examples. O'Neill is the Republican who began Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search), a group of veterans dedicated to criticizing Kerry.
The Kerry camp confirms that at times, the current presidential candidate did carry an 8mm film camera that he and his crewmates used to record themselves. The campaign argued that these pictures were perfectly common keepsakes that soldiers shot all over Vietnam.
Kerry campaign officials also acknowledged that after a number of skirmishes and battles, Kerry and his unit did return to the various locations to film one another at the incident site. However, officials adamantly denied charges that Kerry returned to those locations to re-enact the battles.
Much of the footage appears in Kerry campaign ads and video biographies. Some of it is expected to be featured prominently in the video biography that will air Thursday night at the convention. That production was helped along by none other than director Steven Spielberg (search).
O'Neill and other critics say Kerry's "re-enactment" was an attempt to collect footage to help along future political aspirations.
Their complaints, however, are not new. Story of re-enacted video first emerged in 1996 when the Boston Globe wrote that the film "reveals something indelible about the man who shot them — the tall, thin, handsome Naval officer seen striding through the reeds in flak jacket and helmet, holding aloft the captured B-40 rocket. The young man so unconscious of risk in the heat of battle, yet so focused on his future ambitions that he would re-enact the moment for film. It is as if he had cast himself in the sequel to the experience of his hero, John F. Kennedy, on the PT-109."
FOX News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.