Day by Day

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Military Medals

Time to be frank, if I may. I'm enjoying watching the Kerry camp spin and twist over John Fonda Kerry's Viet Nam service. Flipper knows that he can't run on his post-Viet Nam record, so he made his four months of service the major focus of his campaign. However, since he was an opportunistic slimeball from day one, the people who worked with him are ripping him to shreds.

And I'm loving every minute of it. Trust me, I'm sitting back and laughing my ass off as Team Kerry goes into a tailspin. From his lies to his flip-flopping on issues, every piece of news is turning out negative no matter how hard the fifth-column media tries to spin it. As for the mass media itself, it's loosing credibility every day. They've dropped the facade of non-partisanship and are openly attempting to get Kerry elected.

And they're failing. I love it.

However, I think that there's a whole lot of confusion regarding Kerry's service medals, how he got them, and what it means. So for those who haven't been in the military, here's a quick primer for ya.

Half of the medals awarded to service members are subjective. Bottom line.

The other half are medals that must be awarded for certain actions. The Army Service Ribbon for example. If you served in the Army, you wear it. The Army Overseas Ribbon is awarded to any Army soldier who serves a minimum of six months overseas. The National Defense Service Medal is awarded to anyone who served within specific time periods. All of these are examples of ribbons that must be awarded based on set standards. If you did x, you got the ribbon.

However, the other half of awards are more subjective. The criteria for the Army Achievement Medal reads:

The Army Achievement Medal is awarded to any member of the armed forces of the United States, or to any member of the armed forces of a friendly foreign nation, who while serving in any capacity with the Army in a non-combat area on or after 1 August 1981, distinguished himself by meritorious service or achievement of a lesser degree than required for award of the Army Commendation Medal. The Army Achievement Medal will not be awarded to general officers.

What is "meritorious service"? That can be anything the person writing up the medal wants it to be. Did you keep the crappers clean for a month? Did you completely revamp and overhaul the motorpool? Depending on who your CO is, whether or not your 1SG dislikes you, all of these things can have an effect on what award you can get. The criteria for the Army Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal are equally subjective. It's not just about what you did, it's about who put you up for the medal, and who approves the request. What one commander might consider worthy of an Army Commendation Medal, another commander might think worthy of only a Letter of Commendation, not even a medal.

And it is here that we get into the whole sticky mess about John Fonda Kerry.

Just to give you an idea about the subjectiveness of military awards, when I ETS'ed from my last unit, my team leader and squad leader put me in for a Meritorious Service Medal. In their minds, the work I had done, and the amount I contributed to the platoon and company rated an MSM. However, it was downgraded at the Battalion level to an Army Achievement Medal. Their reason? "Lower enlisteds don't get MSM's." My efforts and contributions to the unit were entirely subjective to the Battalion. Again, much of what decides an award is who writes it and who approves it. It was rare to see a lower enlisted soldier with an Army Commendation Medal. And yet it was just as rare to see an officer with LESS than an ACM. That was the way the politics worked at my unit. Rank and the buddy network trumped actual effort almost every time. It was a large part of the reason I got out of the active duty Army to begin with.

So, with that knowledge in mind, we need to find out who wrote up John Fonda Kerry's medal recomendations. We already know that Kerry wrote the after-action reports, but that doesn't mean much. He was the commander of the boat, he's SUPPOSED to write the after-action reports. However, as the commander of the boat, he's also in charge of writing up award recomendations, and he's the main link in the chain of APPROVING said medal requests. Did he embelish the reasons for the award? Did he out and out lie? Did the actions that the award is based on actually occur? This is the information that those of us who weren't there need in order to say whether or not the awards were based on fallacious merits.

Of course, we would be able to have this information if Kerry would fully release his military records, as President Bush did months ago. But Kerry still hasn't done that.

So where does that leave us? I myself can't say whether or not Kerry deserves a Silver Star, because I don't have the info I need. All I have is the story put out by John Fonda Kerry, and the statements of over 250 men who say he's lying.

250 to 1. Those aren't good odds for John Fonda Kerry.

So while I may not directly state that Kerry's medals are worthless, I will however defer to those men who worked with him, lived with him, and dealt with him for four months and twelve days.

And those men say that John Fonda Kerry is full of shit. I think that's all I need to know about Kerry's service.

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