An anti-Kerry independent political group, the Swift Boat veterans spearheaded a media campaign that raised questions about Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry's record in Vietnam.
"These veterans dared to tell a side of the story that the American people otherwise would not have heard," said CPAC's David Keene of the group's effort to show the public account of Kerry's record did not match their recollections.
The Swift Boat veterans, most of whom served in Vietnam with Kerry, "could have remained silent, comfortably out of the public eye and the line of fire," Keene said. "But they put the good of their country ahead of their own personal interests." Previous recipients of the award, which is not given annually include U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton and Chief M.G. Buthelezi of South Africa.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, the Swift Boat organization argued Kerry had fabricated accounts of his combat exploits to get undeserved medals and a shortened tour of duty, charges those associated with the Massachusetts Democrat's campaign vehemently denied.