Scratching the Surface


Last Saturday on CNN, Bob Dole, a World War II hero who was severely wounded in the Allied invasion of Italy, questioned whether John Kerry’s Vietnam War wounds qualified the Democratic candidate for three Purple Hearts. “I respect his record, but three Purple Hearts—he never bled that I know of,” Dole said. “They were all superficial wounds. As far as I know, he never spent one day in the hospital. I don’t think he draws any disability pay. He doesn’t have any disability. And he’s boasting about three Purple Hearts, when you think of some of the people who really got shot up in Vietnam.”

But Dole knows better. In Unlimited Partners: Our American Story, a 1988 book he and his wife, Libby, wrote with two co-authors, Dole tells on page 59 how he got his own first Purple Heart:

“As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn’t a very good pitch—remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them. In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg—the sort of injury the Army patched up with mercurochrome and a Purple Heart.”