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John O'Neill (Vietnam veteran)
John O'Neill grew up in San Antonio, Texas, the son of an admiral. His grandfather taught at the United States Naval Academy, and his father had been a navy pilot and fought at Iwo Jima. He followed his two brothers into the Naval Academy, graduating in 1967. He spent a year aboard a minesweeper, USS Woodpecker , before serving in Vietnam Coastal Division 11 from 1969 to 1971, during which time he spent eighteen months on board swift boats and was awarded two Bronze Stars. He spent some time in a hospital with a leg injury before returning home.
Shortly after O'Neill was demobilised in 1971, Richard Nixon's special counsel Charles Colson recruited him to be a "counterfoil" to John Kerry. Kerry had come to prominence as part of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and had become a particular target for the White House since his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. O'Neill's was at the centre of a new organisation, Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace , and he became a media figure defending the Vietnam war and criticising opponents of the war. O'Neill first met Kerry during a debate on the Dick Cavett Show on June 20 1971.
O'Neill defended American incursions in Laos and Cambodia, and opposed anti-war veterans. He was particularly critical of statements by veterans that war crimes were committed in Vietnam. However, he soon moved out of the media spotlight. He studied law at the University of Texas, graduating in 1973 and being admitted to the bar in 1974. He spent another year serving the Nixon administration on the Advisory Counsel on Supplemental Services and Centers, and then one year as clerk to Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist, a Nixon appointee.
O'Neill subsequently returned to Texas to practice law, specializing in commercial litigation and representing oil and gas corporations. He later co-founded the law firm Clements, O'Neill, Pierce, Wilson and Fulkerson in Houston. Their corporate clients include Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Reliant Energy, Koch Industries and Eastman Kodak. His partners include, among others, Margaret Wilson , who served as general counsel for George W. Bush during his time as governor of Texas and the late Tex Lazar, who once ran for lieutenant governor on the same ticket with Bush. The firm was recently subsumed into the larger Howery Simon Arnold & White, LLP .
The "Texas Lawyer" magazine reported on February 19 and 26, 1990, that O'Neill had been accused of unethical behavior during a trial by the judge in the case, David Hittner, who publicly threatened to pursue sanctions against him. In 1991 O'Neill was considered by President George H. W. Bush for appointment as a federal judge in Texas, but was passed over.
O'Neill claims to be a "political independent," although he voted in the Republican primary in 1998 [Houston Chronicle, April 21, 2004], and has regularly contributed to Republican candidates over the years . He has claimed that he voted for Al Gore in 2000 and Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. In 2004 he had made statements indicating he supported Democrat John Edwards in the Democratic primary. He also claimed to have voted for Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 presidential election, and apparently told Nixon when the two met that he had not voted for him. However, he seconded Nixon's nomination at the 1972 Republican national convention .
O'Neill claims to have turned down several requests over the years, including some from John Kerry's electoral opponents, to resume his attacks upon Kerry. However, he returned to the fore in 2004 as a founder of a new organisation, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. He is the author, with Jerome Corsi, of the organisation's book, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry . O'Neill stated that his main reason for resuming these activities was that Kerry was running for the office of President of the United States i.e. Commander in Chief of the US armed forces. After Kerry lost the election, O'Neill said he would return to private life, but has since made several public appearances.
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