Did Kerry Discard Vietnam Medals?
April 26 -- Contradicting his statements as a candidate for president, Sen. John Kerry claimed in a 1971 television interview that he threw away as many as nine of his combat medals to protest the war in Vietnam.
"I gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine medals," Kerry said in an interview on a Washington, D.C., news program on WRC-TV called Viewpoints on Nov. 6, 1971, according to a tape obtained by ABCNEWS.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his medals during an anti-war protest in April 1971.
Calling it a "phony controversy" instigated by the Republican party, Kerry said on Good Morning America today that he has always accurately said what took place. "I threw my ribbons. I didn't have my medals. It is very simple."
He also said he — and the military — didn't make a distinction between medals and ribbons. "We threw away the symbols of what our country gave us for what we had gone through," he said.
And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."
But Kerry told a much different story on Viewpoints. Asked about the anti-war veterans who threw their medals away, Kerry said "they decided to give them back to their country."
Kerry was asked if he gave back the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for combat duty as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam. "Well, and above that, [I] gave back the others," he said.
The statement directly contradicts Kerry's most recent claims on the disputed subject to the Los Angeles Times last Friday. "I never ever implied that I did it, " Kerry told the newspaper, responding to the question of whether he threw away his medals in protest.
"I'm proud of my medals. I always was proud of them," he told Jennings in December, adding that he had only thrown away his "ribbons" and the medals of two other veterans who could not attend the protest.