Ventura discloses he didn't see combat in Vietnam War
Published Jan 29 2002Gov. Jesse Ventura, who has used his military record to deflect criticism and bash foes but has kept mostly mum on what he did during the Vietnam War, has disclosed for the first time that he did not see combat.
``To the best of my knowledge, I was never fired upon,'' Ventura said in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press for an article published Monday about his years as a Navy SEAL in the 1970s.
Ventura had suggested in an interview with the Star Tribune of Minneapolis last year that he had ``hunted man,'' but wouldn't give details then or now. And he has steadfastly refused to disclose much about his two overseas deployments, which totaled 17 months, saying his commanding officer gave their unit strict orders never to talk about what they had seen or done.
Ventura had never specifically claimed to have fought in Vietnam.
Based at Subic Bay in the Philippines, when he was still known as James Janos, Ventura earned the Vietnam Service Medal. It was awarded to 3 million servicemen and servicewomen who were in Vietnam, in surrounding countries or on ships off the coast.
In what the Pioneer Press described as a ``combative 90-minute interview,'' Ventura refused to say whether he served in-country, offshore or both.
Ventura did not receive the Combat Action Ribbon, which was awarded to those involved in a firefight or who went on clandestine or special operations where the risk of enemy fire was great or expected.
While Ventura often brags about his SEAL background and some of his exploits while training in the Philippines as a member of Underwater Demolition Team 12, he refused to say what he did to earn his Vietnam Service Medal. He also refused to reveal which platoon and which detachments he was in within UDT 12 - information that would allow reporters to find out about his missions in public documents.
``You don't have a right to know about the teams,'' he told the Pioneer Press.
Ventura's former commanding officer, Robert Peterson, said he's not in a position to enforce his old order for silence. He noted that other former frogmen have written dozens of books and magazine articles, but he also backed Ventura's decision to remain silent.
Larry Bailey, former lieutenant commander of UDT 12 and Ventura's former executive officer, scoffed at the notion there is any reason for Ventura to be silent, though he apparently didn't know details of what Ventura might have done.
``We did routine stuff,'' Bailey said. ``If he is pleading no comment now because of something Bob Peterson said, he's misleading you. There is nothing he could tip off 30 years later. He's sensitive about something. I don't know what it is. Maybe it was that he wanted to get in combat. He didn't get the combat ribbon, but that's nothing to be ashamed of.''
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