Thursday, June 29, 2006

Late Start and a Mini-Rant

Late start again, today. I did something incredibly dumb (what’s new?) last evening: I laid down after dinner to aid the digestive process, fell asleep for a lot longer than is good for me, and was only awakened when SN2 called to give me a “heads-up” about the comment he posted last evening. Well, to make a long story short, I was up until the wee, wee hours this morning. I “lost” my net connection around 2200 last evening, so I spent the quiet hours catching up on my paper-based reading, rather than my usual net-surfing reading. The upshot: rolled out of bed about an hour ago. Thus, light blogging to begin the day. It may or may not get better…

Yesterday I was over at Laurie’s place and shot my mouth off in the comments of her post about a Fort Drum captain who was recently awarded a Bronze Star. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the 27th Public Affairs Detachment press release:

Capt. Jeremiah O’Connor, 57th Transportation Company commander, was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts and contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom during a ceremony June 9 at the unit motor pool.


As deputy joint transportation officer during the deployment, O’Connor coordinated 48 airdrop missions, 364 separate intra-theater missions and 145 rotary missions, and helped move more than 10 million pounds of equipment and supplies. He also received more than 8,000 Soldiers and moved them to their appropriate forward operating bases.

Before I go any further, you should understand I’m not casting aspersions on CPT O’Connor or his accomplishments. My beef is with the military establishment…in this case the Army, but also (and maybe even especially) the Air Force. It’s all about medal creep, or the awarding of medals for everyday accomplishments that, in the past, might have won you an “attaboy” from your commander or supervisor. These days you get a Bronze Star. If you read between the lines of the press release you see CPT O’Connor received his Bronze Star for simply doing his job. To put it another way, the Bronze Star is eighth in the official US Army awards and decorations order of precedence, exceeded by only seven medals. Pretty hot stuff for just “being there.”

This isn’t a new hot-button with me; I’ve written about the proliferation of medals and ribbons before, in this post. The illustration I used to prove my point was of one General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, pictured with a grand total of three ribbons on his service dress. These days you can “earn” three ribbons in the USAF simply by graduating from basic training and shooting expert on the firing range; you get four if you’re really good and are named an “honor graduate” out of basic training (to wit: National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, USAF Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon). And that’s just the beginning…

The Navy and the Marine Corps seem to have kept their collective heads when it comes to awards creep. Want proof? Check out The Boys, with special attention to the fruit salad on their respective chests.



  1. I so totally agree with this. Making it easier to get medals/ribbons is just wrong. Those who truly earned them are now made to feel that their efforts are worthless. I spent 5 years in the Navy and came out with 2 medals--one National Defense Service medal and one Good Conduct medal, and two ribbons--one for rifle qualifications, and I can't even remember what the other one was for, may have been pistol quals...The only one that really means anything to me is the good conduct, because that is the only one I feel I EARNED.

    I kind of feel the same way in karate when I watch how easy the rank tests have become...And now the association is talking about making the BLACK BELT tests easier. Talk about a slap in the face of those who came before...

  2. Buck, for getting a late start, you smacked another one outta there! ;)

    Medal creep, feature creep, it's all the same. Dang creeps.

    (ok, just kidding, i'm supposed to be working - I'm a lazy creep!)

  3. Thanks, guys! And there's so much more I could have said on the subject of awards and decs but didn't. Like: the creation of NEW medals for everything, and I mean everything; the impact of the proposed award recipient's rank on which award is "appropriate" for a given accomplishment, e.g., Colonel? Legion of Merit. Captain? Bronze Star. Senior Master Sergeant? Commendation Medal. Senior Airman? AF Achievement Medal, if lucky, "attaboy letter" if not...

    Like you, Becky, I didn't accumulate very many awards in my 22 years, and I only consider three of the nine ribbons "earned"...1 of 2 AF Commendation Medals (the other one was another of those "being there" awards), my Expert Marksman ribbon, and my Meritorious Service Medal. The MSM is the usual retirement award, but dammit, I feel that one WAS earned! Oh, and my Good Conduct medals? What they didn't know and never found out would have negated those!



Just be polite... that's all I ask.