Roy (Latch) Hoffmann

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Rear Admiral Roy F. "Latch" Hoffman, U.S. Navy (retired) is Chairman of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, established May 4, 2004, in opposition to John Forbes Kerry's candidacy for U.S. presidential election, 2004.

Hoffman claims to have been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal "for exceptionally meritorious service against the Viet Cong enemy", the Silver Star Medal and three Bronze Star Medals "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity". He also claims to have been awarded "the Legion of Merit with gold star in lieu of second award, Navy Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation and Vietnamese Navy Distinguished Service Order Second Class Medal. His Campaign and Service medals are: American Campaign, China Service, Navy Occupation (Japan), World War II Victory, National Defense with one star, Korean Service with seven stars, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations, Vietnam Service with four stars, Vietnam Campaign, and Navy Expeditionary (Cuba)." [1]

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, after Hoffmann retired from the Navy, he spent "eight years in Milwaukee as the port director before being unceremoniously dumped in 1986." A Milwaukee alderman was quoted as saying "He was given the choice of leaving with grace or he would be fired."

Hoffmann and Kerry

Jonathan Z. Larsen, in the March/April 2004 Campaign Journal article "The Endless Assignment. Nine Perspectives from the Edge of Hell," cites from "Tour of Duty" that he "found of interest ... the specific criticism the book offers of the officers to whom Kerry and his fellow Swift boat skippers reported."

"Captain Roy Hoffman was the commander of the Navy Coastal Surveillance Force, and it was Hoffman's decision to send Navy Swift boats up the narrow rivers in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam -- almost always without support from helicopters or artillery -- where they ran the risk of mines and were fired on almost at will by Viet Cong dug in along the river's banks. A Swift boat mission up a Mekong Delta river was a fool's errand, serving no greater purpose than showing the flag."
Hoffmann's immediate superior was Area Commander Adrian Lonsdale.

Alexander Cockburn's March 27, 2004, comment:

"... As part of the U.S. Navy's slice of the action, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and his sidekick, Captain Roy (Latch) Hoffmann, had devised 'Operation Sea Lords,' in which the Swift boats would patrol the canals and secondary streams of the Mekong Delta, with particular emphasis on the areas near the Cambodian border. ..."

In an article for Salon, Joe Conason describes Hoffman as

"a cigar-chomping former Vietnam commander once described as 'the classic body-count guy' who 'wanted hooches destroyed and people killed.'" Hoffmann, he wrote, "first gained notoriety in Vietnam as a strutting, cigar-chewing Navy captain. But it was O'Neill, by now a familiar figure on the Kerry-bashing circuit, who came to Spaeth for assistance."
"Until now," he adds, "Hoffmann has been best known as the commanding officer whose obsession with body counts and 'scorekeeping' may have provoked the February 1969 massacre of Vietnamese civilians at Thanh Phong by a unit led by Bob Kerrey -- the Medal of Honor winner who lost a leg in Nam, became a U.S. senator from Nebraska and now sits on the 9-11 Commission."

According to "Be Honest,", 2004:

"Retired Adm. Roy Hoffmann, chairman and co-founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, can’t figure out if he knew Kerry or not. May 6: 'Hoffman acknowledged he had no first-hand knowledge to discredit Kerry's claims to valor and said that although Kerry was under his command, he really didn't know Kerry much personally.' Hoffman and Kerry had few direct dealings in Vietnam. A Los Angeles Times examination of Navy archives found that Hoffman praised Kerry's performance in cabled messages after several river skirmishes. Los Angeles Times. 5 July 2004 (p. A1).
"Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann was the commander of Task Force 115. The March 18, 1969, weekly report from Task Force 115 describes the incident that resulted in one of Kerry's purple hearts as 'an enemy initiated firefight' that included automatic weapons fire and underwater mines used against a group of five boats that included Kerry's. The Task Force's report supports Kerry's description of the event for which he won a Bronze Star and a third Purple Heart - although Hoffman - the commander of that task force - claims now that this isn't what happened."

Hoffman was clearly one of the rear-echelon incompetents who deeply enjoyed sending others into harm's way, but, like George W. Bush, wanted none of the danger for himself. He has lied about the medals he's received which is a felony according to the military who will never prosecute him because they share his extreme right-wing bigotry.

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