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2004-01-29

The Life of John Kerry Part II: From Vietnam Hero to Nixon’s Nightmare As An Antiwar Veteran, From Iran-Contra Investigator To A Run For The Presidency

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The second part of our look at the life of the Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate with Michael Kranish, reporter for the Boston Globe, who co-authored an extensive seven part series on John Kerry for the Globe.

Senator John Kerry is keeping up the momentum coming off his back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. He picked up key endorsements in Missouri and South Carolina–two of the seven states with the most delegates up for grabs this coming Tuesday.

In Missouri two former senators, Jean Carnahan and Thomas Eagleton endorsed his campaign and in South Carolina Kerry gained the support of Rep. James Clyburn, the state’s top African American officeholder and a former backer of Rep. Richard Gephardt, who quit the race for the presidential nomination after the Iowa caucuses.

Today, Part II of our look at the Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Yesterday we spoke about Kerry’s formative years.

His father was a foreign-service officer and his mother was a member of the aristocratic Forbes family. He attended Swiss boarding school while his father was stationed in Berlin and was later sent to boarding school in St. Paul’s in New Hampshire when he was 13 years old.

He later attended Yale University where he was inducted into the university’s secret Skull and Bones society–an exclusive club in which just 15 Yale men are chosen each year. President Bush is also a member of Skull and Bones.

After graduating Yale in 1966, John Kerry volunteered for the Navy. In Vietnam he served as the captain of a small "swift boat," ferrying troops up the rivers of the Mekong Delta.

He was awarded with multiple honors in the war, including three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star for chasing down an enemy combatant with a rocket launcher. He retuned from the war to join the growing antiwar movement, leading protests with Vietnam Veterans Against the War–becoming Nixon’s worst nightmare as an antiwar veteran.

Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he notably said, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

  • Michael Kranish, political correspondent for the Boston Globe. He co-authored a seven part series on Senator John Kerry for the Globe, entitled John F. Kerry: Candidate in the Making. He is recently back from New Hampshire where he was covering the Democratic primary. He joins us on the phone from Washington DC.

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