Here is the letter:
Quite an indictment against 3.5 million members of the U.S. military who served with honor in combat during the Vietnam war from a man who makes his living speaking lines written by someone else and who lives in a world of fantasy. My undergraduate degree is in Physics, I have an MBA, I have an Airline Transport Pilot's License and a Flight Engineer's Certificate, and I have worked in the field of Aerospace engineering for almost 40 years. Neither John Kerry nor GW Bush nor I, for that matter, had any say in whether we would be assigned duty in Vietnam unless we volunteered. Some of us did volunteer. Of course one could petition for four educational deferments and a fifth to spend a year in Paris studying French, as John Forbes Kerry did, being rich and a prodigy of John F. Kennedy. If one received 3 Purple Hearts, he could ask to come home, even after just 3 or 4 months, and even if the wounds didn't
cost him any downtime, as John Kerry did. The only ways to guarantee we would not be assigned to Vietnam would be to desert or dodge the draft, like Bill Clinton and many of the "Vietnam Veterans Against the War", or petition for status change to "Conscientious Objector" prior to receiving orders, or obtain an educational or family deferment, as millions of Americans did.
During my 12 month tour (actually 366 days), more than half the pilots with whom I flew my 100+ missions in Vietnam were Reservists, like me, and Air Guardsmen. John Kerry equated Guardsmen with draft dodgers. Now, Mr. Kilmer equates us all with "punks" and "borderline criminal or poor, and that's why they got sent to Vietnam. It was all the poor, wretched kids who got beat up by their dads, guys who didn't get on the football team, couldn't finagle a scholarship." I pitched four no-hitters my Senior year in High School, and our American Legion baseball team won the state championship two consecutive years. My scholarship offers included MIT, Cal Tech, and a number of other equally prestigious colleges and universities. What was your GPA, Mr. Kilmer?
The majority of members of the Guard and Reserves are former Active Duty military. Chances are the next time you get on a commercial airliner, the flight crew will be former military and may even be current members of the Reserves or Guard. Do you know the military background of the pilot who recently made a miracle dead stick landing in the Hudson River?
I often wondered how many names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall are of National Guardsmen and Reservists. One hundred and forty Medal of Honor recipients were in the National Guard. Six thousand seventy-seven members of the National Guard or Reserves died in Vietnam.
No, Mr. Kilmer, you don't have a clue who we are, and you will never be one of us. My conduct and the conduct of my peers was and continues to this day to be slandered by envious Hollywood loser wannabes like yourself and politicians and the media. Sadly, they have again been joined by both the ignorant and the unpatriotic and encouraged by enemies and traitors to undermine the efforts of those new military heroes now proudly serving our country. Military veterans are a brotherhood of unique individuals, melded together in the crucible of wars past and present and bonded by duty, honor, sacrifice, blood, and love of country. More so than through any other fraternity, the associations and friendships formed through the military and law enforcement and firefighters and other emergency service providing units are lifelong, and we mourn the loss of our comrades until we rejoin them again someday in
formation in Heaven. Sadly, envious Hollywood loser wannabes, politicians, and historians do not understand, let alone share, our code of conduct and ethics. Perhaps someday they will learn if they have the courage and integrity to recognize our accomplishments and the will to seek the truth and report it honestly and accurately.
No, Mr. Kilmer, you don't have a clue who we are, and you will never be one of us.