[QUOTE][B]9/11 AND IRAQ VET TO KERRY: STOP STEALING SADDAM'S OLD TALKING POINTS[/B]
By JENNIFER FERMINO in N.Y. and GEOFF EARLE in Washington
Training as Army cadet.November 2, 2006 -- In a moving letter to The Post, a heroic New Yorker serving in Iraq had a blunt message yesterday for John Kerry - lay off the troops!
U.S. Army Maj. John P. Maguire - a West Point alumnus who rushed to the Twin Towers to rescue the wounded on 9/11 - wrote that he learned of the senator's insult while in a tent "surrounded by barriers protecting us from mortar attacks."
The 33-year-old was watching Armed Forces Network, which broadcast Kerry telling young kids, "If you don't [study hard], you get stuck in Iraq."
So Maguire, who was photographed carrying the mortally wounded FDNY chaplain the Rev. Mychal Judge out of the rubble at Ground Zero, fired off an e-mail to defend his men and women in uniform.
"In his remarks, Sen. Kerry inferred that many of us over here are in Iraq because we are not smart enough, didn't study hard, and had no other options in life," he wrote to The Post.
"Let me just tell you, there are many other people who share that view - the enemy."
He pointed out that Saddam Hussein tried to spread exactly the same propaganda about American forces and said that the terrorist insurgents are still trying to propagate the myth.
"One of the common misconceptions among Iraqis is that U.S. troops are the bottom feeders of America, have no families, lack education, and are society's outcasts," he wrote.
Obviously, they never met Maguire.
"He's a bright kid, he's very articulate and he expresses himself very well," his father, John J. Maguire, told The Post yesterday.
"He got his master's degree when he was in the Army. He did his thesis on airport security and that was before 9/11."
The elder Maguire said he is not surprised that his son - who grew up in upstate Chester with seven siblings before moving to Hoboken, N.J. - would stand up for the soldiers in the trenches.
"John was always a stand-up guy," he said.
He added, "Let me tell you, he would never back off if he saw something wrong. He was like that in high school, he was like that at West Point, and he was like that down on Sept 11."
Maguire's mother, Kathleen, said that she was grateful to The Post for drawing attention to her son's feelings about Kerry.
"We appreciate that a newspaper like The Post would get his point across," she said.
And she had a message to the senator, too.
"You can tell Kerry that there were many schools that accepted him, and that he chose West Point," she said. "It wasn't a last resort."
In fact, he loves his alma mater so much, Maguire plans on marrying there next May, said his mother.
"We're hoping he'll be back by then," said his father.
"He's so busy," said Kathleen Maguire. "If he has a minute to do something like this, it's so meaningful."
The former Goldman Sachs associate told The Post in an interview earlier this year that "9/11 was the Pearl Harbor of my generation."
On that day, he rushed from his Wall Street office to lend a hand - and ended up immortalized in a photo carrying Judge, one of the tragedy's most famous victims.
Meanwhile in Washington, visitors filing past the names of the dead inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial also expressed outrage at Kerry's recent remarks.
"What a fool!" said Ray Fulbright of Michigan, sporting an American flag cap.
"He wouldn't make a pimple on the behind of any man whose name is out here."
Almost all visitors were already familiar with Kerry's blunder on Monday during a speech at Pasadena City College in California.
Kerry - a decorated Vietnam veteran - has said that he did not intend to insult the troops, but had simply botched a joke.
"I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended," he said.
There were plenty of people on that list.
Clifford Hyder, a retired North Carolina carpenter, served three years in Vietnam - where he says he once had to carry a body bag with a wounded comrade for three days straight.
"I kind of resent Sen. Kerry, basically saying the troops are too ignorant to get out of going to the military and fight for their country when all of them are over there voluntarily," he said.