Regarding Robert Smock's Feb. 21 letter, "What about John Kerry's war record?":
Many people are not aware of the role the U.S. Navy had in Vietnam. I would suggest if they are interested, they read the book entitled Brown Water, Black Beret written by Lt. Cmdr. Thomas J. Cutler, USN.
Over 2,800 Navy personnel were killed in Vietnam, and a large percentage died in the rivers of Vietnam. Lt. John Kerry, a brown water sailor, was the commanding officer of a Patrol Craft Fast, commonly called a Swift Boat.
It was armed with twin 50-caliber machine guns on top of the pilot house and an 81mm-mortar with a 50-caliber mounted on the fantail. It had a crew of five who were also armed with their personal weapons.
Lt. John Kerry was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. The required gallantry for the Silver Star, while less than that required of the Medal of Honor, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.
Mr. Kerry, like many servicemen of that era, became disillusioned with the war. If Mr. Smock was there, he must remember My Lai and many other incidents that certainly seemed improper to him. Mr. Kerry only spoke of the frustrations felt by many of us who served in Vietnam.
William Baron, Johnston, S.C.