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Rhode Island Senator Apologizes to Vietnam Vet for Cap-Pulling, Threat

July 23, 1992

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) _ Sen. John Chafee has apologized to a Vietnam veteran for threatening the man and pulling his cap over his eyes during an argument at a heated town meeting.

Several veterans had criticized the Rhode Island Republican at the July 15 meeting for not co-sponsoring legislation to allow disabled veterans with at least 20 years of service to collect both disability and retirement benefits.

Veteran Harold Prew asked Chafee, a former secretary of the Navy, if he had any sons of military age when the Persian Gulf War broke out. Prew, 50, said he then called Chafee a ″sorry sucker.″

Chafee responded by saying: ″Don’t you talk to me like that or I’ll tear you apart.″ Chafee lunged at Prew, tugging his baseball-style cap that read: ″Vietnam Veteran and Proud of It.″

Chafee’s news secretary, Edward Quinlan, said Wednesday the senator’s actions followed a torrent of obscenities from Prew, who lives in Pawtucket.

″Senator Chafee is like anybody else,″ Quinlan said. ″He’s human and he doesn’t care to be assaulted with vulgarities.″

In a letter to Prew, Chafee wrote: ″That was an improper act by me and I apologize to you for having done so.″

Quinlan said Chafee is not supporting the veterans benefits bill because of concerns about the cost.

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