My service record was not a particularly unusual one. I went to the South Pacific. I guess I'm entitled to a couple of battle stars. I got a couple of letters of commendation, but I was just there when the bombs were falling.
— NIXON, IN THE "CHECKERS" SPEECH, 1952
SIR RICHARD BURTON once said that it was his fate never to be believed when he was telling the truth and always to be believed when he was lying. The history of Nixon's credibility cannot be compressed into any such epigram, but it is true that there were times when he told that which was specifically the truth, but which nevertheless, in the end, came to be widely disbelieved. When in November 1945 he was being interviewed by Republicans seeking a congressional candidate and said he had talked to many veterans "in the foxholes," no one doubted him. 1 Nor did they doubt his campaign leaflets, which described him as a "clean, forthright young American who fought in defense of his country in the stinking mud and jungles of the Solomons." 2 Lynn Bowers and Dorothy Blair, interviewing Nixon for a Saturday Evening Post article in 1949, came away with the impression that he had been "under fire frequently" on Bougainville, Vella Lavella, and Green Islands, and "earned two battle stars." 3
But by 1952 newsmen who researched the Nixon war record were openly skeptical about the foxholes and the falling bombs. Even friendly biographer Henry Spalding admitted in 1972 that "Nixon has often been criticized as one attempting to pass himself off as a veteran who had seen actual combat." 4 In 1976 Dr. David Abrahamsen wrote flatly that Nixon's claim to have been in the foxholes was "a fabrication." 5
Nixon was not guilty of inventing a record as blatant as that of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who totally fabricated an extensive combat