Bristol's mayor, Democrat Art Ward, knows what it was like to serve as a U.S. Marine in the jungles of Vietnam.
As a young man, he went to war there, coming home with a Purple Heart and the medals to prove his valor.
He's been involved in Bristol's thriving veterans community ever since, playing a key part in erecting one of the first Vietnam War memorials in the country.
But in his two decades in politics, during which he's shared the stage with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal many times, Ward said he's never heard Blumenthal claim to have served in Vietnam.
“He’s never given me the idea that he served in Vietnam. I always thought he was pretty public with the fact that he was in the Reserves,” Ward said this morning.
Ward said the first time he can explicitly remember talking with Blumenthal about their respective service in the Marines was back in 1998, when a replica of the Vietnam War memorial wall came to Bristol.
Blumenthal told a story then about serving as a corporal in the Reserves. Ward ended his active duty as a sergeant so he joked with Blumenthal about having once outranked him.
In the many years since, Ward said, he's heard Blumenthal speak at numerous veterans-related functions.
"He's never alluded to serving in Vietnam" at any of them, Ward said.
Ward said that the issue has not been the focus of any conversations over the years, but the two have talked about the Marines a number of times.
Ward said he's sure he would have noted if Blumenthal claimed to have been in Vietnam because it "a very sensitive subject" among veterans who have been in harm's way.
He said that given the raw emotions involved for those who were in combat, he would have paid attention had Blumenthal changed his story at any of those appearances.
Ward said that he's shocked that Blumenthal misrepresented his service at any public appearance, but added that perhaps there's a missing context the video or news story in The New York Times.
In any case, he said, Blumenthal has been straightforward to him.
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