Man rescued by Kerry defends candidate in Carson City |

Man rescued by Kerry defends candidate in Carson City

Jim Rassmann wants fellow veterans to know that, despite the GOP’s efforts to impugn John Kerry’s service record, the Democratic presidential candidate served honorably and earned not only his medals but their respect and support.

Rassmann was the special forces officer Kerry pulled from a muddy river at the southern tip of Vietnam more than 30 years ago – saving his life and getting himself wounded in the process.

He spoke Friday before a small gathering invited by Bob Crowell and his law partners.

Like Rassmann, Crowell and most of the others in attendance were veterans – a good number of whom served in Vietnam.

He said those attacking Kerry have twisted and distorted the truth. What they are telling America is “a bunch of garbage.” Rassmann said they were under fire that day and that he wouldn’t be here if Kerry hadn’t pulled him from the water.

He pointed out that all of those “Swift Boat veterans” were proudly supporting Kerry’s record as recently as 1996 and charged that the smear campaign in which they say he didn’t deserve those medals, didn’t serve honorably and, in fact, was a coward, are orchestrated by Bush’s campaign.

As for why they changed their story, he said: “They believe he’s a traitor for coming back and speaking out to Congress about the crimes committed.”

Kerry testified before Congress in the early 1970s about atrocities committed by allied troops including U.S. soldiers, angering many veterans.

“All of us who served there know that terrible things happen in every war,” said Rassmann.

He said that doesn’t change the fact that Kerry served honorably and will support and defend veterans.

But Rassmann, who retired several years ago after more than 30 years with the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, said he would be voting for Kerry even if he had never met the Senator. He said as a fiscal conservative but a social liberal, “the Republicans left me behind a long time ago. The party’s been taken over by a different crowd.”

He told the group meeting at Adele’s in Carson City if Kerry wins, “he will be exactly what we need.”

Rassmann said campaigning for Kerry this year has been his first foray into politics and he expects it will be his last because of what he’s seen: “This campaign has reinforced my opinion about American politics. It’s a bunch of garbage.”

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.