Years ago, when William Miller talked about being in the Vietnam War -- if he talked about being in the Vietnam War -- he would tell people he served on a Swift boat.
At least now they have heard of it. But not in the way he would like.
"I was proud of what I did, and all the guys I was with," Mr. Miller said. "Now somebody says 'Swift boat' and it's a whole different meaning. They don't associate it with the guys we lost. That's a shame."
"Swift boat" has become the synonym for the nastiest of campaign smears, a shadow that hangs over the presidential race as pundits wait to proclaim that the Swiftboating has begun and candidates declare that they will not be Swiftboated.
Swift boat veterans -- especially those who had nothing to do with the group that attacked Senator John Kerry's military record in the 2004 election -- want their good name back, and the good names of the men not lucky enough to come home alive.
"You would not hear the word 'Swift boat' and think of people that served their country and fought in Vietnam," said Jim Newell, who spent a year as an officer in charge on one of the small Navy vessels in An Thoi and Qui Nhon. "You think about someone who was involved in a political attack on a member of a different party. It just comes across as negative. Everyone who is associated with a Swift boat is involved in political chicanery."