May 9, 2001
Ventura's Military Record Questioned
(The following is a Cursor.org transcription of a May 9, 2001 news broadcast on KMSP-TV, Minneapolis-St Paul.)
INTRO: Governor Ventura has boasted that he hunted man during his days as a Navy SEAL. But now a former Navy SEAL says that is not true. Nine News filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the Governor's record and went after the real story. But as Tom Lyden reports, that only raised more questions.
REPORTER TOM LYDEN: Governor Ventura is selective about when he wants to reminisce about his Navy SEAL days. Today wasn't one of those days.
"Governor I was wondering if you wanted to clarify any of the blank holes in your military record. We filed a data practices request and we got the record."
GOVERNOR VENTURA: No Response.
TOM LYDEN:Nine News has obtained the Navy record for James Janos, the Governor's real name. It shows his rank, store keeper, his Navy SEAL training and his unit: Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) 12. At the time a separate unit from the SEALs. But his missions, performance record, and what he actually did, has all been blacked out by the Navy.
MIKE TRONNES, CURSOR.ORG: "Once he brought it up as a way to defend his overseeing of state conservation policy, by saying that he had hunted man, then at that point I thought it became fair game."
TOM LYDEN:Mike Tronnes runs a Web site, Cursor.org, that takes it's share of shots at the Governor. And in a new posting claims Ventura has exaggerated his military record, and never actually saw combat.
TRONNES: "Well, this really goes to the heart of what he's about as a politician. If he's padding his resume as a Navy SEAL, then maybe there's something going on there that people should know about."
TOM LYDEN:The article is written by Bill Salisbury, a former SEAL. We talked to him by phone.
BILL SALISBURY/FORMER NAVY SEAL: "He was a Frogman and he did dangerous things: jumping out of airplanes and blowing things up, and diving. But he sure as hell didn't hunt men in Vietnam as a SEAL, unless he can come up with something that he hasn't shown the public yet."
TOM LYDEN:Salisbury says his information comes from a commanding officer and two people who actually served with the Governor.
As well as UDT 12's cruise book, a glorified scrap book kept by the unit, which spent most of its time stationed in the Red China Sea in the waning days of the Vietnam War. The only mention of James Janos is that he was on the basketball team.
But most revealing Salisbury says are the commendations on his Navy record. Or rather, what it does not show: a Combat Action Ribbon.
LYDEN (TO VENTURA):"Governor, this Salisbury guy claims that you never saw combat in Vietnam. Did you see combat in Vietnam? Is that true?"
VENTURA: No response.
TOM LYDEN: Bill Salisbury, the man criticizing the Governor, comes with his own impressive resume. He actually trained Navy SEALs, including Senator Bob Kerry, who has found his own SEAL record under scrutiny.
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