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Drone pilots to get medals

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From first hand experience with Spectre the job they do is multi~faceted. Of particular importance to me more than once was their ability to use their massive IR light to illuminate certain areas for us to make our NVGs more effective. This was back in the early '70s when a lot of this was by guess & by golly with an occasional illuminator interruption during critical segments allowing for a couple hairy brushes with the jungle canopy.

If the UAV guy can enter the battle and remain there and offer similar protection to the troops in contact when other aircraft cannot, such as the no day flight policy for the AC~130s then their contribution is incalculable. I have only spoken to these people at airshows, both the Air Force who don't travel and the Marines who launch and support in the field at the unit level and they believe in the value of their mission. Next month I'll be back at the Yuma airshow and you can be sure I'll ask how those Marines feel about this award.

The MSM is a valorous award as well as a routine service award. Recent awards of the Bronze Star have been criticized though the award criteria was met. Who was to know when the criteria was first established that some Mx officer in Kansas would be eligible for a Bronze Star just for launching a combat strike. The MSM also ranks above the Air Medal which can be awarded for multiple missions or for a single valorous act, in or out of combat. I have yet to see anyone commenting on this topic take exception to THAT difference while ballyhooing the fact that this new award ranks above the Bronze Star.

I continue to believe the right decision has been made in criteria and ranking.

The question of the EWO being eligible is interesting when you consider they are testing the ability of AC/MC~130s to handle UAVs. When we had the DC~130s flying the "Buffalo Hunter" missions during Vietnam the most they could hope for was an Air Medal despite the risk posed by the Firebees upon launch.

Everyone is doing their part.

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I don't know of many USMC/USN Corpsman BS w/V that wouldn't have been higher awards in WWII...I haven't heard much criticism...

 

I don't track other services issues of the BS w/V


-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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LOL!! See daddy is a real pilot. LMAO!

 

 

^^^ That. This piece of tin for joystick jockeys is going to rank 3 medals higher than the award for men who are wounded or die in actual combat. Maybe the virtual pilots can get that award too-- for carpal tunnel syndrome after too many "combat hours" on the joystick. The guys that got the "Stolen Valor Act" passed are "down with" this latest brilliance from DC?

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I,m sorry but this new medal placement is just wrong. People can say what they want but it should not come before any combat medal that is received by direct action by the individual in face of the enemy. to me its a slap in the face for those men and women who died in combat and received the Purple Heart.


Son of

CW2 Bernard E Meister 2/14/70

334th AHC 69/70 189th AHC 67/68 155th AHC 67

TAC Officer 1968 Fort Wolters

USMC 1956-1959

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I suppose the sole available insight as to the thinking of those who made the precedence decision would exist in the Criteria as published.


HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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Do drone pilots rate campaign medals?

The answer to that is "no" unless they actually deploy to the theater and meet the criteria for award of the specific campaign medal.

 

United States Air Forces Central Command (USAFCENT) only approves Aerial Achievement Medals for these types of missions and nothing above the AAM. This new decoration will change that. I've seen bronze star medals, commendation medals, and achievement medals awarded for one day and these can include a "V" device for valor or without a "V" device for meritorious/outstanding achievement. I'm speaking only to the Air Force decorations arena. I don't deny that warfare is changing, but think the current decorations can cover most of what UAV/RPA personnel accomplish.

 

I adamantly disagree with the order of precedence being above any decoration that you must be in harms way or in theater to receive, i.e a BSM (current USAF guidance) and without question, a Purple Heart!

 

Receiving this decoration without being in harms way while fulfilling this mission set, and above what a person receives for an active combat role or upon death for combat wounds is simply wrong.


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To the answer of, do drone pilots rate campaign medals?.They are eligible for the AF Expeditonary service ribbon, would this qualify them for the VFW?

 

The Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold border may also be awarded to certain "over-the horizon" combat assignments, such as remotely piloted vehicle operators for employing a long-range weapon into a combat zone. It is therefore possible to earn the gold border even when stationed at a secure military installation in the United States geographically separated from the battlefield by thousands of miles. Such personnel, however, must have first earned the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon before the ribbon can be upgraded with a gold border.

 

Look's they would also be eligible for the GWOT Service Medal.


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ASMIC #1098

 





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GWOT Service Medal is awarded to all personnel who serve 30 days active duty...after the initial training pipeline...so everybody gets it


-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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GWOT Service Medal is awarded to all personnel who serve 30 days active duty...after the initial training pipeline...so everybody gets it

 

So everybody gets the NDM and the GWOT medal? I never really understood the NDM either.But thats another subject.


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ASMIC #1098

 





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Indeed they do...


-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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Indeed they do...

 

 

So Another redundant medal, oh my. Those medal companies must have some really powerful Lobbyist's.


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ASMIC #1098

 





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Personally I feel that this will be an ongoing trend in the military. I think it is a deliberate attempt to place traditional acts of military valor/courage/sacrifice farther and farther down the ladder. The whole idea behind this medal as stated in its award criteria and in its placement in the Order of Precedence is simply so ridiculous – maybe stupid is a better word - that I find it hard to believe that there not some ulterior motive behind it all.

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Being the possessor of many of the awards shown in post #205 I remain satisfied that the award and it's ranking satisfactorily represent the importance of their mission. The UAV has proven itself time & again which is a testament to the men & women who operate them. It is more versatile than manned fighters or recon aircraft and is becoming much more plentiful. It will soon be a rarity when Silver Stars and DFCs are awarded and this new decoration ensures the distinction of accomplishments remain separate.

I have watched with a bit of dismay the expansion to almost over the shoulder of the badges and awards created over the last decades. It used to be that the USAF SSgt with numerous Air Medals and no combat service award flew either RC~135s or WC~130s, No big deal but someone got their nose out of joint and along came the Aerial Achievement Medal.

It used to be that a Marine or Navy troop with a Combat Action Medal and no other valor awards had still seen combat but the Marine Corps was sparing in those awards while an Army counterpart left Vietnam with the "end of tour" package {Army Commendation Medal & both Vietnam Service Medals}. I read a book not long ago about the Marines in WWI and the officer writing that book made reference to the older NCOs with two rows of ribbons as being the guys to heed. Times have sure changed.

Sitting in air conditioned comfort does not alter the stress of the mission and failure still effects them just as if they were actually overhead. No, the danger to them is non~existent but that should actually be counted as a benefit since ability derives from experience.

Since this award supplants the others you will never see any of them on the chest of a UAV driver. I'm still aghast that the Air Force awards such things as Basic training graduation ribbons, NCO academy graduation ribbons and the Combat Action Medal among the many others that make it difficult to determine what, if anything has actually been accomplished. The retirement shadow boxes are now becoming very expensive wall panels.

 

You, sir, have a great position of experience regarding award criteria, and how they really play out in the award of decorations. You are also observant and thoughtful about the variation between the service's tendencies for/against awarding decorations. You made a tremendous number of excellent points in the post above, except for the one about the decoration in question.

 

The proliferation of decorations, as commented on by others (i.e.: sea service ribbon for the Navy??), is an example of the fruit salad / political stupidity at the pentagon.

 

To get down to the details:

 

This decoration, as enumerated in the article at Marine Corps Times, is intended to recognize/decorate personnel in new and non-traditional activities involved in actual warfare (shaping or participating in the battlefield or activity in a new domain of warfare). The specific entities mentioned were drone pilots AND electronic warriors at the new-ish (2009) cyber-command. So, the intent of this award is to recognize/decorate personnel who have achieved something significant, such as a drone pilot who launches a hellfire killing a terrorist with the cell-phone in his hand ready to set off the truck bomb parked in front of CentCom Forward or 5th Fleet in Bahrain, OR it could be awarded to an EW warrior at Ft. Meade who writes code such as stuxnet or maybe detects and/or neutralizes a cyber attack that would have dropped US defenses prior to an attack, etc. In other words, a pretty significant contribution, but not from a position of personal risk, either in-theater or on the battlefield.

 

So, with that clarified, my question is: Why can't this be recognized by an already-existing award?

 

Taking the drone pilot's example at first, I think the Air Medal criteria could have easily been re-written to incorporate and include the significant contributions that drone pilots do. I also think it does NOT have a detrimental or diminishing effect on the Air Medal. It's about Aerial Achievement at a Bronze-Star level, which is/was the first level of significant recognition for combat achievement. As we all know, the Air Medal already has a "split personality" with both aerial valor (at a bronze-star level) as well as Strike/Flight (achievement) recognitions. Adding a third "Drone Achievement" category would fit right in.

 

The Electronic Warfare folks at Ft. Meade could easily be awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for their accomplishments at this level. The MSM is the "service" or non-valor recognition/decoration for the Bronze Star level.

 

For higher levels of recognition for these non-traditional warriors whose "combat" happens at a keyboard, why could they not award the Legion of Merit? That is the Silver-Star level of meritorious award on the ladder of decorations. It is not a ribbon to be sneazed at on the order of precedence. I know it's pink-ish colored and probably the ugliest colored ribbon on the chart, but it's a high honor. Heck, if it's THAT big of a contribution (and I could imagine several scenarios, especially for Cyber Command warriors, where it could easily rise to this level, such as protecting national assets like our electrical grid, water supply, financial sector, etc.), award them a Distinguished Service Medal!

 

Another aspect of this is the significant problem of: If you only establish this ONE medal for recognitions of this kind of activity, EVERYONE in these categories of warfare will only have ONE level of recognition. This will set up a situation like we had in 1918, where everyone being recognized for significant combat service that wasn't at the Medal of Honor level was getting the DSC. It was the only medal available, other than the Medal of Honor... (Yes, the Silver Star was awarded, but at the time, during WWI, it was not looked upon as a significantly high-level award. It was "merely" an appurtenance on the ribbon until later when MacArthur elevated it to a medal of it's own. If you asked most awardees in 1920 the level/significance of their silver star, I bet you'd get responses like today's Commendation medal recipients.) So, to get back on track, with only one medal at the Silver Star level of our current-day order of precedence, there will be lower-level acts recognized by this medal, when it should only get a commendation or Bronze Star level award, such as the Air Medal or MSM. No matter how you cut it, this new medal is bad policy and a bad idea, not to mention unnecessary and causing a LOT of rancor amongst the real combat troops and their families.

 

I think a big impetus for this award was to NOT award these folks the DSM, LoM, or MSM, because too many pentagon/staff-types/flag-officers want to preserve these medals for themselves.

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To put this in more visual perspective, the new decoration sits just above the Soldiers Medal (the standard for which is "risk of life") in the Army order of precedence:

 

Thank you for that. That really helps illustrate the significance of the order of precedence, especially when one keeps in mind as looking at it the criteria involved.

 

It also brings up another aspect that I forgot to include in my post above:

 

Though this is UNwritten and not a criteria in any way shape or form at the levels below the Medal of Honor, if one has read enough award citations, one realizes that the "breaking-point" between actions where one is significantly risking their own life is at the Silver Star/Distinguished Flying Cross/Soldier's Medal level. The Soldier's Medal DOES have it in the criteria, as do all the other service's equivalant awards, but it's implied at the Silver Star and DFC level as well. These awards are basically the "bottom level" in the Order of Precedence where a person's decoration, IN PART, is recognizing having put their life as secondary to their comrades or the mission. (The Crosses and MoH also do so.) By putting this new decoration at that level significantly cheapens those awards and the actions they have represented.

 

Again, a SERVICE medal is the appropriate award for these combat SUPPORT operations. (Combat Support is DANG important; my statement is not to degrade the contributions of these folks. It's just that the contribution is different than being in combat and should be recognized differently, and to add a new medal confuses and clouds this recognition, not make it better.) My best friend's brother is a drone mecahnic in the Marine Corps, and he actually serves IN THEATER in Afghanistan, and by the way I read this medal's criteria, the pilot flying the thing is more eligible for recognition, than my buddy's brother who is actually in theater and subject to mortars, rockets, IEDs, etc...

 

And, while I'm on a roll -- The DFC is awarded for both life-at-risk aerial achievements as well as non-life-threatening aerial achievements. My connection to the Coast Guard makes me particularly interested in this, because, as a life-saving organization (among several other missions) the CG awards a significant number of DFCs to it's helicopter pilots for life-saving rescues. I know that helicopters are some of the most-challenging aircraft to fly, but I also wonder why, in some of these cases, the pilot gets a DFC and the Rescue Swimmer, who gets dropped off in the ocean 100 miles from land and left behind, because of weight limits - the helo flies back to base to drop off the victims before the helo returns to pick up the swimmer - if they can find him - does not get a decoration at all.... And, even if he does get the highest decoration likely, the Coast Guard Medal, it's precedence is below the DFC the pilot on the same aircraft got during the same mission... Since the Soldier/Airmen/Navy&Marine Corps/Coast Guard Medal criteria requires a risk of life, I think it should rank just above the DFC, since the actual awards of DFCs only sometimes include risk of life.

 

Sorry for the off-topic rant.

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The proliferation of decorations, as commented on by others (i.e.: sea service ribbon for the Navy??), is an example of the fruit salad / political stupidity at the pentagon.

I condensed all your two posts down to this line even though all you have to say is quite how I feel as well. DoD could have done a better job delineating the criteria within the framework of the current awards. What I have continuously beat the drum about is the work done by ALL UAV units whether forward deployed or in a stateside console against what I feel is a strong denigration of that work not only here but, obviously on other forums by people who might not have a full understanding of the scope of their mission.

This morning I again spent a couple hours rereading the histories of many of our major awards from the MoH all the way down to the Achievement Medals. During my military time three medals were enacted; the MSM, the Achievement Medals or reprioritized; the Purple Heart. The MSM made sense though it has not always been properly awarded. The Achievement Medals are just plain stupid and rank right there, in my opinion with the basic training medal. The Purple Heart was a prudent action but those who had previously received that award did nothing more than readjust their ribbon racks.

As far as precedence it DOES look like this award ranks above the Bronze Star but the Bronze Star is also awarded for other than valor just as the MSM can be awarded for valor. The full spectrum of medals MUST have some sort of ranking for the sake of uniformity. As another example since the DFC can be awarded on par with the NC/DSC/AFC should it be worn immediately behind that ribbon on the rack when it is awarded in that criteria?

You also mentioned your SAR swimmers being awarded the lesser Coast Guard Medal but the swimmer has an advantage over the pilot with the DFC because the swimmer is also eligible for a 10% tax free bump on the retirement check which the pilot cannot get with the DFC. Also, it is usually much easier to get the CG Medal over the DFC and though it has less prestige it is still the same 10%. I DO know many of your swimmers have been awarded DFCs but that is not the norm.

The thing is that this medal has already been implemented and now it's just a matter of seeing how it is administered. We can sit here until they run out of bandwidth and debate the wisdom of this award but it will not change what has already happened. I also will point out that most recipients of valorous awards from the MoH on down have alluded to their own unworthiness but I have yet to meet anyone who ever turned down these awards, myself included. I HAVE had the highest personal honor in being involved in the award of the MoH to a contemporary about fifteen years ago and it ranks close to the top of my life's accomplishments. While involved in that effort I also gained a greater appreciation for ALL military awards despite my own personal feelings.

Thanks for making this more interesting.

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Good points rr01.

 

The only thing I can emphasize is that amongst most troops, this has already (before first award of the medal) created a lot of rancor, and I think it's bad for morale overall (the 95% of personnel not in Cyber Command or in a UAV unit) and will cause a loss of respect for the UAV / Cyber Command in general, but especially awardees.

 

Also, my point about this being the only level of award for this special category will lead to inappropriate awards of less significant acts which will, in turn, flair up the problem mentioned in the paragraph above. (Basically, it seems as though the powers-that-be are creating a third category of award: There's valor in combat, achievement in service, and now this third category which is something like Avhievement in combat/combat support without actually being there. If that was their intent, they should have created an entire series of awards from the Cross level down to the Bronze Star level. I have a feeling if they'd have said something like - "In the information age, we've found there is a new domain of warfare where personnel who are not on the battlefield or even in the theater of operations contribute significantly to combat and defense operations which deserves recognition and we felt that this shouldn't be at the level of a valor award, but should be more significant than a service award, so therefore, we're creating a new series of medals which fit within each tier of the Pyramid of Honor between the Combat Valor decorations and the meritorious service decorations," it would still be controversial, but would make more sense and at least have a chance of winning over some people. Then, if awarded appropriately for the level of contribution, it would eventually be accepted. With the way they've done it, they have stirred up controversy, tried to "sneak" it in (like: it's only one medal - that way it won't make any waves, and we'll add more levels to this later, when it's more accepted..."), and generally destroyed morale, just when the troops are planned to return from the combat zone, leaving these medals to be the most-likely to continue to be awarded -- sort-of "in your face" to the ground-pounders.

 

Like you say, it's a done deal (no matter how unnecessary and stupid), and we'll have to wait and see how it's awarded to see if my fears come true...

 

I agree that there are a lot of other problems. I wonder why, when it is so obvious to so many, it cannot be corrected? I agree that Achievement medals are an answer in search of a question.

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The USN Sea service deployment ribbon has been mentioned a couple of times, and I would think to an outsider this ribbon would seem trivial and not needed. But the USN already issues fewer ribbons/medals than most of her other service counterparts IMHO. The Sea service deployment ribbons are indicators of a Fleet Sailor's experience levels. I think you would be surprised at how many Sailors actually never set foot on a ship. I believe this ribbon came about because the Navy wanted to recognize and distinguish the Fleet Sailor, from the many pencil pushing, staple counting, career bean-counter, and any other shore loving weenies who do absolutely no sea-time what-so-ever. :P

 

Now, here is a ribbon I don't understand; the US Army's Service Ribbon. :blink:


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I wonder why, when it is so obvious to so many, it cannot be corrected?

Maybe it can be in much the same way corrections are made when new equipment is fielded, suggestions. Just as there is a process for having manuals corrected and equipment improved there is a way to make this award better {or worse}. How much recognition does someone need for just doing their job? There are already performance reports and spot promotions, awards & decs is a cottage industry unto itself; when and what will it be enough?

Someone mentioned here the possibility of receiving this award and still being eligible for a Commendation or MSM end of tour medal. That already exists with the other valor awards. I remember my confusion at the award of Purple Hearts for the attack on the Pentagon in 2001. I had to rewire my brain to the notion that this war began at our doorstep and the first casualties were right here in the US. I had always viewed the Purple Heart as something from overseas since combat on our own soil was such a rarity. Now we have people conducting all sorts of battlefield actions from a room many thousands of miles removed from the scene. Videos of these actions are often uploaded for the rest of the world to be entertained, shocked or just informed as though it is part of the daily news. The evolution of this type warfare has been fascinating to me but highly controversial on many levels.

Maybe this medal was just plugged into a median area with one or two more to follow once the awarding has been smoothed out.

As far as sea service I certainly understand the decoration, much like the award for being "wintered over" in Antarctica. When you mentioned that one thoughts of entire Navy families spending two and three years in Iceland while getting credit for sea service came to mind. I'm sure that award, like many including the one prompting this topic had good intentions at the genesis but faltered in application.

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Maybe it can be in much the same way corrections are made when new equipment is fielded, suggestions. Just as there is a process for having manuals corrected and equipment improved there is a way to make this award better {or worse}...

You have restored my hope...


HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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Someone mentioned here the possibility of receiving this award and still being eligible for a Commendation or MSM end of tour medal. That already exists with the other valor awards.

But that's just the point. If you read the criteria, this specifically is not a valor award. It recognizes single acts of achievement. The Legion Of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Commendation Medals and Achievement Medals all already do the same thing in addition to recognizing sustained periods of service.

 

Ironically, because of where this medal is ranked in the order of precedence, it outranks both the Bronze Star which is awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone or, since September 11, 2001, the Meritorious Service Medal which may be awarded for non-combat meritorious achievement in a designated combat theater. That is what makes no sense to me and I thinks lots of others.

 

A look at the fruit salad worn by today's service members can give the casual observer a cursory idea of what that person has done during his or her career. But without seeing the accompanying citations to any decorations, there really is no way of knowing what acts or service merited a particular award. Did the Army colonel wearing the ribbon of a Legion of Merit ribbon earn the medal for commanding an infantry brigade during its combat tour in Afghanistan or did he earn it for overseeing the repairing and rebuilding of the levy system in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Both are entirely different duties involving great responsibility and vitally important to the military and I can see the justification for awarding the LOM to either individual if his service merited recognition. But I don't think it diminishes what the infantry commander did in a combat zone to present him the same medal as his contemporary who's acts or service were far removed from the shooting war.

 

Why then does anyone see the need to recognize the contributions of UAV operators any differently when there are already an abundance of awards that could serve the same purpose? After all, anyone who would be sharp enough to recognize the ribbon of the Distinguished Warfare Medal on the chest of such a person is also going to recognize the wings he wears as well.

 

Another question I have is the devices used to denote additional awards of the DWM. The awarding criteria state that oak leaf clusters will be worn by members of the Army and Air Force, while members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast guard will wear 5/16 inch stars. Since this medal is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense, does it seem odd to anyone else that additional awards are not denoted solely by oak leaf clusters regardless of the branch of the recipient, like the Joint Service Achievement and Commendation Medals and the Defense Meritorious, Superior and Distinguished Service Medals?

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