Bronze Star Medal woes cause problems

| April 17, 2012

Our buddy Jeff Schogol sent us a link yesterday to the Air Force Times story about the Bronze Star “winners” we talked about last week. Apparently the two female airmen have been getting harassed over the award;

Stories about both awards were posted on the Air Force website and drew dozens of comments attacking the women as well as the decision to award them Bronze Stars. The Air Force removed the story about Gamez “because no one deserves that level of criticism for meritorious service in a combat zone,” David Smith, a spokesman for Air Education and Training Command, told the Times.

Many commenters said that the women should not have gotten awards simply for doing their jobs, and that the Air Force awards too many medals.

[Tech. Sgt. Sharma Haynes] could not be reached for comment by press time. In the story about her award, she said she was busy while deployed to Afghanistan, but it was time well spent.

“I know when most people see the news and read the papers, the majority of what they see are the bad things that occur here, but the U.S. presence is making a positive impact on this country,” she said in the story.

[Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez] declined to comment for this story. In the Air Force story that was taken off the Web, she was modest about receiving the award.

“Ask me to recognize anyone else and I can talk for days, but to brag about myself, I’m not the best,” she said in the story. “I feel like I did my job, kept a very busy pace and made improvements any place I could.”

While I understand the sentiment expressed by many, that clerical work doesn’t really rise to the level of deserving a Bronze Star Medal just because it happened while the Sergeants were receiving imminent danger pay, neither is it their fault and they probably don’t deserve the abuse that’s directed at them.

I’ve told the story before that when my commander in Desert Storm told me he was putting me in for a Bronze Star Medal, I was violently opposed to it. I begged him not to give it to me and physically threatened him (COB6 will tell you that I physically threatened that moron at least once a week), but that didn’t stop him. Our First Sergeant had been awarded a Bronze Star in Vietnam for pulling his squad’s collective ass out of an ambush, and I didn’t think that anything I did rose to that level of proficiency or bravery.

Obviously, my Bronze Star Medal meant more to my commander than it did to me, but there was no way I could convince him to not give me it. So, because of my experience, I don’t blame anyone for the awards they get. I didn’t blame Jessica Lynch, and I don’t blame these two young ladies.

Giving them shit on the internet about it probably isn’t going to change the whole situation. Anyone who is bullying them should probably take a bottle of chill pills. Get pissed at their commanders, or the Air Force, or the culture that made someone think it was a good idea, but it’s certainly not their fault.

And I don’t think any of us want to be the squad leader of the patrol which everyone seems to think that those two airmen need to “earn” their BSM. There are enough things to be scared of outside the wire without giving an Air Force finance clerk a loaded weapon and putting them in a free-fire-zone.

Category: Air Force

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Comments (165)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Hondo says:

    To answer your question about “reluctance”, SSG Cox: how many E1s through E4s do you know that have been awarded the MSM? The criteria for award of the MSM and a BSM for service/achievement are nearly word-for-word identical; the only regulatory distinction is whether the service was “in connection with military operations against an armed enemy”. I’d guess that’s likely at least part of the reason why.

  2. Sercor says:

    Ayee…. so much fuss. E-1 to E-4: unless you have meritorious service equivalent to that of the MSM then no BSM. That’s why. Navy will award MSM in lieu of BSM because shipdrivers who decide don’t know anything about being a groundpounder. That’s why the Army is so successful in rewarding it’s soldiers. If your narrative justifies significant exposure or actual combat they will downgrade to ARCOM. This is because they do not want to have to answer when someone asks why not a BSM if the MSM reads and justifies combat exposure. Unless they have no choice, no BSM. ARCOM if you have justified the significant risk or actual combat. MSM if no risk. Concurrence was developed by Navy Leaders that cannot get BSMs. Unless you are a Commander or Master Chief riding in helo’s all over forget it. Doesn’t mater if you work with afghans with guns as a Combat Advisor 6 days a week outside the proverbial wire. They do not understand the risk associated with it unless you get shot in the head. They will disapprove it even though there should be an exception to the unstated rule for advisors. 50+ green on blue last year. Who do you think they are targeting? The guys embedded with them. Us combat advisors. I’m deployed to AFG now on my second tour. It’s funny to listen to NAVCENT reps talk about risk of exposure. They think their helo rides qualifies as significant risk. Try being embedded with the afghan police and army and have advisors killed on the FOB. Then tell me your exposed. Just one Sailor with an opinion.

  3. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Hondo–The MSM is a peace time award period… The Bronze Star is a Combat Zone award. The MSM is given to NCOs over a period of time for service or for doing an outstanding job in a leadership row in peace time. E-1 Thru E-4 don’t get it because they are not in that place of leadership. The Bronze Star should be given to E-1 to E-4 in Combat because of the risk of life factor. Only if they are in direct combat does it reflect the degree of merit not expected by all soldiers in a combat zone!! The same applies to E-1 thru E-4 that risk their lives in Support Units in direct combat. The CIB is nothing more than a qualification badge for Infantrymen in a combat zone. [IT IS NOT A COMBAT DECORATION !!!] To deny a soldier of any rank a Bronze Star while in direct combat with the enemy is to completely dis-respect his life and his service to his country at a grave moment we count on him to do the most for his fellow soldiers.

  4. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: per DA exception to policy in effect since 2004, the MSM may also be awarded for service in a Combat Zone if the service is deemed to have been “noncombat service”. I’ve personally seen it happen. The intent was to allow folks in safe rear areas like Qatar and Kuwait to be recognized for arduous but safe service in an area that, while technically part of a combat zone, involved no more risk to life/limb than duty in CONUS. However, that exception is abused by some commands to the detriment of folks actually getting shot at; I’ve seen that personally, too.

    As I said earlier: for service or achievement (e.g., without “V” device), the regulatory criteria for the BSM and/or MSM are almost word for word identical. The only distinction between the two, by Army policy, is that one is awarded for “noncombat service” and one is awarded for “combat service”. So when receiving an award for service, if someone didn’t do MSM-level work they should not expect a BSM even in a combat zone. The ARCOM is both a combat and noncombat decoration, and can be used to recognize such service appropriately.

    Now regarding “noncombat” and “combat”, here’s an easy and common-sense way of making the distinction: if you’re getting shot at periodically, THAT IS COMBAT SERVICE. And folks were getting shot at both on and off installations while I was in-theater. I understand that’s still the case today in Afghanistan. You don’t have to be outside the wire to be at risk of getting wounded or killed.

    You’re also absolutely wrong about the CIB. That requires direct, personal participation – as an Infantry or SF soldier – in ground combat. Ditto the CMB (as a medic or SF soldier). The CAB is awarded in other cases. But all three require personal participation in combat – which is what you’re harping about here. So what you want (an award to recognize those who participate personally in combat) already exists.

    Next time you might want to do your homework before commenting on this issue. For a start, try reading the pertinent sections of AR 600-8-22. It’s actually pretty easy to find online.

  5. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Its funny how a lot of you talk about {outside the wire] try fighting the enemy outside the wire and inside the wire with only 12 men in your camp. with the enemy saying [ I don't know your name but this ones for you Mike ] I don’t think they cared what your rank was because you were nothing more than a G.I. to shot at. The morning of June 4th 1970 while I was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.—Sorry no Bronze Stars for you because you didn’t have the rank only the life to loose but if you loose your life we’ll give you one for your family . This made up story is in the 173rd history book and military records of my Battalions Daily Staff reports seem to say the same thing.

  6. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: many things have changed since Vietnam, my friend. During that war, the CAB did not exist – and by regulation, the MSM could not be awarded in a combat zone, period. Today, the CAb exists and the MSM can be awarded in a combat zone.

    Award philosophies also seem to have been somewhat different 40 years ago. In Vietnam, from what I’ve seen in records of the era some units would award SP4s a BSM fairly easily; others, not so much. And the DA regulations regarding award of the CIB were, shall we say, apparently not exactly followed 100% of the time (lots of exceptions were apparently made; I’ve actually seen records of one guy who served as a COOK in Vietnam who came home with a CIB). Today, those regulations and policies usually are followed more closely – though not always, apparently. Humans being humans will sometimes bend the rules.

    Today, the philosophy on awards has swung a bit in the other direction. There are units out there that inappropriately award peacetime decorations for combat service – and vice versa. And there are those who denigrate the service of their support troops – who are also at risk during a war. You can get killed just as dead by shells/rockets landing on your base as you can by a bullet.

    Not knowing your history, I had you pegged as one of that latter group – wrongly. For that I do apologize. Bad assumption on my part.

    I still think you’re wrong here; today the CIB/CMB/CAB recognize personal participation in ground combat, which is what you seem to be wanting. Unlike before, any soldier can now receive such recognition for being personally under fire and/or engaging the enemy. But if my tone earlier seemed unduly harsh, I offer my apologies for that as well.

  7. SSG Michael Cox says:

    I thought the regulation for the CIB was That you had to be personally present in an Infantry unit engaged in combat.You can be present but not engaged your self ! Please check for me because I don’t have the up graded regulations.I know of guys who were awarded but never made contact or was in a firefight.Its funny that they award Bronze Stars to E-1 to E-4 if their dead. I really feel bad when they have to twist regulations just to make a family feel good but would not give one if the pour soldier stayed alive.

  8. SSG Michael Cox says:

    I personally knew a black kid named Osear Dardin in my platoon who had 4 Purple Hearts awarded to him but not awarded one Bronze Star. All of them awarded for close contact either by grenade or bullets. This is why I get mad over this award.

  9. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: sounds to me like you know some guys that got cut some significant “slack” by their unit regarding their CIB.

    Per the reg, yes – personal participation in ground combat is required for award of the CIB, and by DA regulation was during Vietnam as well (I’ve researched the Vietnam-era DA reg on CIBs myself in conjunction with a different issue). It also requires (1) holding an infantry (or today, an infantry or SF) MOS; (2) serving in an infantry or SF unit at Bde or lower level; and (3) performing infantry duties while engaged by or while engaging the enemy in ground combat. (There were a couple of DA-recognized exceptions to the MOS requirement, but they were rather rare occurrences.)

    However, in practice it appears that significant liberties were taken in some units regarding award of the CIB during Vietnam. There were also apparently a number of USAR-V exceptions granted that DA chose not to disapprove (see my previous comment).

    My impression is that’s been tightened up considerably today, and that granting everyone in a unit the CIB on the basis of a single action is not common any more – though I’ve heard accounts alleging that still occasionally happens. The addition of the CAB also has reduced the pressure to “bend the rules” to take care of troops who otherwise technically would not qualify for the CIB.

    As for giving a posthumous award higher than the guy/gal would have gotten had they lived, I have to admit I’m a bit conflicted on that issue. One can argue doing that recognizes the additional sacrifice involved. But it also seems to set up a dual standard – and I really detest dual standards. However, given human nature (and the normal human desire to comfort survivors), I’m not certain how to prevent such practices – or even if I’m sure I’d want to.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hondo, I don’t know all the regs but I know the packet that was required for my CIB required two sworn statements and a copy of the SIGACTS. They tightend it down more when the powers that be decided that it had to be your vehicle hit with an IED to qualify for the CIB, not the whole convoy. If I remember it correctly they even decided how far away from indirect you had to be, depending on size, to qualify.

  11. Twist says:

    #60 was me

  12. Hondo says:

    Twist: As I recall, CAB requirements were pretty much the same in 2007-2008 as you describe for the CIB, with minor variations. I don’t think our command ever addressed the convoy issue (didn’t have to in the sole incident I personally know about) or specified any particular distance criteria for IDF. But yeah – 2 witness statements, copy of SIGACTS/other verification of the incident, written summary, and chain-of-command submission were all required.

    IMO, this is one area where either DA-level guidance (or Theater-level guidance coordinated with DA) concerning expectations early on might have been a damn good idea.

  13. Twist says:

    I’ve personaly seen the convoy issue. My Stryker hit a badly emplaced, thank goodness, EFP and while we were chaining up the axle (laymans term) we recieved some fire. I had one replacement on ground with me, while another was in another Stryker. The one on ground got a CIB while the one still inside a Stryker did not.

    I will admit I don’t know much about the CAB since it doesn’t apply to me or any Soldiers I am likely to lead.

  14. Twist says:

    When I say replacement I mean the new Privates that got sent over to Iraq after we got extended.

  15. SSG Michael Cox says:

    So are all of you saying that even if your Infantry in a combat zone and served a tour of duty in a combat zone that some of the Infantry won’t pickup an award of the CIB?

  16. Hondo says:

    CAB criteria are essentially MOS-neutral, but require a soldier to be (1) in an area where hostile fire or imminent danger pay are authorized, and (2) “be personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement.”

    Interestingly enough, 11-series soldiers assigned to non-infantry units (or to HQ above Bde level) apparently are eligible for the CAB (AR 600-8-22, para 8-8.c). I didn’t realize that until I looked it up just now. So it’s technically of more than academic interest to infantry soldiers. Theoretically, it’s possible for an infantryman to qualify for both.

    Common practice seems to be that both IDF and DF qualifies. Makes sense to me, since both types of enemy fire can kill you just as dead.

  17. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: by the book, that’s possible. How that shakes out in actual practice? That depends.

    My guess is that most units will play things pretty much “by the book” and require the DA criteria to be met by all individuals awarded the CIB. But I’m sure a few units will be quite “easy” on granting the CIB. My background isn’t Infantry, so I can’t comment from personal knowledge. Perhaps Twist can (his background is Infantry).

  18. Hondo says:

    Twist: if you’re ever an IN BN/BDE HHC 1SG, CAB may indeed apply to some of your soldiers. You’ll have non-Infantry MOS soldiers working in supply, orderly room (maybe), maint, and commo.

  19. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Does the Army keep tack of how many Bronze Stars are awarded to Infantry that get the CIB or any other combat arms or support units. It would be interesting to see who was awarded the most v-devices,meritorious service, or achievements of this award.We can leave out E-1 to E-4 in the Infantry for meritorious service or achievement!!!

  20. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: the Army indeed publishes statistics for awards, but the CIB is technically a badge and I don’t think it’s included in the award stats. As I recall, they’re broken out by grade and reason (ret, svc, achievement). I think there’s a separate set of stats for OIF/OEF awards. But I don’t think the published stats are broken down by MOS.

    Let me see if I can find the stats again. Been a couple of years since I last looked at them. They’re available somewhere on the HRC (formerly PERSCOM) website, but I’m not sure exactly where any more.

  21. SSG Michael Cox says:

    I had argued with my own Platoon Leader over the Bronze Star the last day I left Vietnam from the 173rd Airborne Brigade because I knew he put himself in for a Bronze Star for the same action I was in on June 4th 1970.My platoon leader became our company XO. In 11 Months in Vietnam I went from PFC to SGT the day I left, was awarded the CIB, Air Medal, 2 Army Commendations and a Good Conduct Medal HA HA! Years latter I checked our Battalion Daily Staff records and found that only E-1 thru E-4 were awarded Bronze Stars if they had been KIA in my company but no problem awarding All E-5 and above this same decoration.In my company we had no problem with a loose of 10 to 20 a month KIA or WIA. The Air Medal was awarded because we were on Jump Status in Vietnam. WE could get a Bronze with v-device if we lived but very few received them. Of the 35,000 that served in that Brigade during a 6 year period of the Vietnam WAR we had 10,113 Purple Hearts awarded over 1,500 KIA.Remember we were only a Brigade not a Division with 15 CMH awarded 3 awarded for taking one hill 875 near Dak To.On JUNE 22 1967 Co.A 2nd of the 503rd with about 100 men went out on a mission and never came back only 2-3 survived but wounded in the ambush. Every war is different. Some of them you may be lucky to come out alive.In the infantry its your job to make contact so its a promise you will have far less chances of coming back because the fate of sure death and the risk of life is greater. Over the years I know that the majority of soldiers were not exposed to risking their lives on the same scale. Thats why I’m arguing at 63 about the Bronze Star even now when it doesn’t mean anything. I place value on those that risk their lives in war and rank has no place in the value over any soldiers life !!!

  22. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Hondo find an infantry man that didn’t receive a CIB that had a tour over in a combat zone. Its like wining the lottery.By the book doesn’t count. Its not a combat decoration and if its awarded like you say then where is the decoration for being in direct combat??? I bet someone got it for doing a good job in the rear like you said!!!!

  23. Twist says:

    Let….This…..Topic….Die….Please

  24. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: Turns out the Army HRC does track CIB/CMB/CABs as well as personal decorations.

    https://www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/Awards%20and%20Decorations%20Statistics%20by%20Conflict

    This page might require AKO login to view.

    Per HRC’s stats, less than 34,000 CIBs have been awarded to soldiers serving in Afghanistan since 2001, and less than 42,000 were awarded for service in Iraq between 2003 and 2010 (when OIF technically ended).

    I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that the total number of 11-series soldiers who served in Infantry units in Iraq and Afghanistan to date is higher than that.

    The CIB information may or may not be available for Vietnam. There’s a table which has Vietnam award stats – but for the CIB it has a placeholder entry of all asterisks. If that table was created from a spreadsheet (HRC used to do exactly that and provide a link to the spreadsheets) and the number wouldn’t fit in the space allotted that’s how most spreadsheets display that fact. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find links to the appropriate spreadsheets – yet.

    Bottom line: yes, the CIB is indeed a combat decoration (technically a combat badge). It’s not a unit award, even if many units in Vietnam (and perhaps some even today) cut “blanket orders” awarding it to all assigned in violation of the regulatory requirements. Award of the CIB requires individual participation in direct ground combat as an infantryman assigned to an infantry unit. That is precisely what the CIB is designed to recognize – that the guy wearing it was infantry and has personally “been there, done that” with respect to infantry ground combat.

    I owed you this last reply since I’d said earlier that I’d see if I could find the stats. Unless I find the Vietnam stats, I’m now done with this issue.

  25. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Thank you Hondo I am impressed by your ability to find information on the CIB. The number of infantry that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan is probably higher based on the number of times the same soldier that was awarded his first an only CIB would re-enter combat would make it look like a lot of Infantry wasn’t awarded the badge Ha Ha !!! What I would really like to know is how many that held the CIB were awarded Bronze Stars for meritorious service or achievement E-4 and under. It would look funny if the infantry engaged in combat were awarded far less Bronze Stars than supporting units for meritorious service or achievement or maybe thats my point!!The army has taken this award out of the hands of those that are actively risking their very lives and awarding more non-combatants this decoration.I have a problem with that and demand that truth to come out!The Bronze Star with v-device should not be the only award available to grunts who may not be the main soldier involved in a combat action but were directly involved in the same fight.

  26. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Why claim the Bronze Star as a Combat Decoration???? Why not claim that the Bronze Star with V-device is the only combat decoration for actual combat!! Why not say the Bronze Star given for meritorious service or achievement is just an award given in a combat zone for non-combat??????? Magots seem to want it that why !!!!

  27. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Meanwhile I will sit back at my desk and tell all the Infantry 11 series Grunts that are risking their lives in direct combat too, { Try harder and maybe they too can earn a combat decoration if die first ] !!!

  28. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Believe me that the awarding of the Bronze Star to NON-Combatants in a COMBAT ZONE and awarding of the Army Commendation for Direct Combat for Infantry or any other MOS in Direct Combat {{{IS }}} the total problem in todays ARMY!!!! Soldiers now are finding out the same thing as soldiers in { OTHER WARS BEFORE YOU }. I would not think for one minute that just because you have incoming rounds from artillery or mortars that justified an award of a Bronze Star–{ SORRY ONLY A PURPLE HEART } !! THOSE ROUNDS ARE ONLY FOR {WHOM IT MAY CONCERN} -NOT- THIS BULLET HAS YOUR NAME ON IT !!

  29. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Say,just because an infantryman gets one CIB does that mean it covers 3 deployments ???

  30. SSG Michael Cox says:

    NO BECAUSE AFTER THAT, HE ONLY BUILDS UP MORE ARMY COMMENDATIONS AWARDS IF HE DOES A GOOD JOB {{{ SORRY NOT A BRONZE STAR, THAT’S ONLY GIVEN TO NON-COMBATANTS TO MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE THEY’VE BEEN IN COMBAT !!!!

  31. 11BScottie says:

    The bronze star medal is a joke today. Case in point. There was 80,000 bronze star medals awarded in Iraq alone.

    The Combat Action Badge, has just been awarded over 20,000 covering both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    So in effect, someone with the Combat Action Badge is far rarer then someone with the Bronze Star Medal.

    I heard that all squad leaders were awarded a BSM just for deploying froma buddy deployed to Iraq in 2010 in a gaurd transportion unit.

  32. A Proud Infidel says:

    Hell,everyone that was Platoon Sergeant and above in my unit got BSM’s for their tour in Asscanistan, and that was for REMFs as well as those who led outside the wire, I concur that it’s been reduced to just another piece of bling, and I’m very skeptical anymore whenever someone touts that they were awarded one, especially if it doesn’t have a “V” device!

  33. Hondo says:

    Folks: if you read the reg (AR 600-8-22 or sister-service equivalent), a BSM for service or achievement is essentially a MSM for service in a combat zone. The criteria for a BSM for service or achievement is nearly word-for-word identical with that for the MSM, except that it also requires “connection with military operations against an armed enemy” and cannot involve aerial flight. And prior to 2004, award of the MSM was not authorized in a combat zone.

    Add the “V”, and yes – the BSM is a very different animal, and means something very different.

    The situation is no different from that of the ARCOM. The ARCOM w/V is a very different animal than one without. And like the BSM, the ARCOM can be awarded for achievement, service, or heroism in a combat zone.

  34. johca says:

    “The criteria for a BSM for service or achievement is nearly word-for-word identical with that for the MSM, except that it also requires “connection with military operations against an armed enemy” and cannot involve aerial flight” is generally correct, the serving in any capacity proximity specifics is actually Title 10, United States Code, section 1133, (10 USC 1133) limits award of the Bronze Star Medal to service members receiving imminent danger pay. The serving capacity must also be in connection with military operations against an armed enemy; or while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

    Not involving participation in aerial flight is also a limiting stipulation already mentioned.

  35. 11BScottie says:

    SSG Cox, from one combat grunt to another, Welcome home from ‘Nam. I have a drink for you with your name on it if you’re ever around.

    As for ARCOM and BSM, you get them for being there. I got an ARCOM.

    I don’t pay attention to them unless they have a “V” Device. And I definatly pay attention to Silver Star and above.

  36. SSG Michael Cox says:

    To all of you—!!! What would you think if the Bronze Star was awarded for another reason ??? To soldiers for { Meritorious Combat }!! The V-device is awarded for a distinctive act by a soldier in combat an the citation describes the act he performs to receives this device.—– A bronze battle star in the center of a bronze star ribbon could denote that the award was given as a result of risking ones life in a direct action against the enemy but not sufficient enough to warrant a V-device. To all soldiers who qualify regardless of rank! This way the army can award it like they have for non-combat reasons and show respect for those who risk their lives directly involved in actions in war!!!

  37. Hondo says:

    johca: true. But prior to the 2001 DAA, the requirement for combat-zone service to receive the BSM did not exist. That allowed the USAF and USN to award quite a number of BSMs to folks who served in CONUS or Germany/Italy for support of operations in Kosovo in 1999. The language requiring receipt of hostile fire/imminent danger pay was inserted into the 2001 DAA in reaction to precisely that abuse of the BSM.

  38. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Hondo, I was around when the army changed the Army Commendation to include the v-device in 1864 The Army Commendation was never meant to be awarded as a combat decoration or be one !!It was only used in a combat zone to award soldiers for non combative reasons!!! Now we in the Infantry call it -{ THE GREEN WE-NEE }because its used quite allot to give Infantrymen a combat award so they don’t have to award them a Bronze Star FOR SERVICE OR ACHIEVEMENT {MAINLY E-1 To E-4} COMPLETELY GIVING CREDIT FOR ALL ACTUAL COMBAT DONE BY INFANTRYMEN AN AWARD OF THE ARMY COMMENDATION !!!

  39. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Hondo, SORRY it was 1964 They changed the Army Commendation to include a V-device Ha Ha !!! That really makes me [OLD]

  40. johca says:

    What the heck is meritorious combat? Is this nothing more than serving a period or duration of service in a combat zone? The BSM awarded for mertiourious achievement or service is nothing more than the MSM, except exemplary conduct in ground combat against an armed enemy or in close proximity (receiving imminent danger pay requirement) of ground combat distinguishes it as being a combat medal.

    The Bronze Star Medal with (V)alor device indicates Heroism. Awards may be made for acts of heroism which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the Silver Star.

    The Bronze Star Medal (without V device) indicates Meritorious achievement or service. Awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit and meritorious service. The lesser degree than that required for the award of the LM, must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction.

  41. SSG Michael Cox says:

    There were over 549,000 Bronze Stars given out in the Vietnam war. Out of 58,000 KIA,Over 70% KIA were Infantry or 0300 Marines. There were 10 support personnel to 1 combat arms soldier in the field. It doesn’t take to much to figure out that the Bronze Stars did not go to those fighting the war !! The Army Commendation replaced the Bronze Star with with far more battles than any in Iraq or Afganistan

  42. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Meritorious Combat is a combat action or contact with enemy forces where the soldier is directly involved in risking his own life. In Vietnam they called them fire fights. Not all engage in these actions. It is not serving a duration or period of service in a combat zone. {{{ Now I need to know where you were to have an ongoing battle from the time you got there to the time you left and it never stopped }}} OR ARE YOU PISSING DOWN MY BACK AND TELLING ME ITS RAINING???

  43. SSG Michael Cox says:

    johca, What makes you think your {{{In Combat}}} just because you set yourself down in another country for a tour of duty??? Because they call it a combat zone??? ITS NOT COMBAT TILL SOMEONE TAKES A POP AT YOUR ASS. THEN FOR SOME REASON YOU THINK YOUR NOT LONG FOR THIS WORLD!BECAUSE SOMEONE YOU HAVE NEVER MET WANTS TO MAKE YOU A KIA!!!! When you feel that from time to time it might be that you are being shot at. Then your in COMBAT!!!!

  44. johca says:

    Certainly, Bronze Star Medals were awarded to service members who never directly participated in ground combat during the Vietnam War. Probably true of Korean War and WWII too. The total numbers of Bronze Star Medals lacks any breakdown for how many had V device authorized and how many lacked the V device. Even statistics after 2001 were not complied to show this.

    The Bronze Star Medal with V device still has significant integrity behind it. There are two arguments entwined in this discussion. The first being low enlisted rank prevents being recommended and considered for the Bronze Star Medal and the second being support never being in combat get recommended awarded the Bronze Star Medal for doing administrative or not in combat support while the combat infantry doing the fighting do not.

    Both have merits worthy of discussion and debate. However “acts of heroism which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the Silver Star” more so the heroism is not a function of duties and responsibilities of rank but are direct result of deliberate decision and action to do something requiring both courage and bravery. I believe if the Bronze Star with V device statistics to include age and rank could be compiled there will not be the rank disparity that is found for the Bronze Star without V device awarded for extraordinary achievement or service.

    In regards to rank “and” duty position having influence in recommendation and consideration for award and presentation of Bronze Star without V device for extraordinary achievement or service, I can see rank and duty position causing an extraordinary demarcation. Extraordinary is indicating far beyond ordinary contribution and being a remarkable contribution. Meaning something special or unusual was done beyond normal authority and responsibility or normally assigned day-to-day duties.

    IMO, considering NCO rank is lowest rank in the operational chain-of-command it is difficult to for an E-1 to E-3 (E-4 being lowest NCO rank in Army, Navy and Marines) and E-1 to E-4 (E-5 being the lowest NCO rank in the Air Force) to be in a duty position having authority and responsibility to do something having a war fighting impact unless they are a combatant fighting in direct combat on the battlefield. In this case the E-1 to E-3 (E-4-Air Force) would probably be recommended for the Bronze Star with V device due to their exemplary conduct in ground combat against an armed enemy that was above and beyond their rank, their level of duty responsibilities being involved.

    IMO was use to emphasize I’m quantifying a demarcation in a technical way that is difficult to do so in reality as each acts and deeds resulting in extraordinary have no rank attached to it and achievement and service are not cloned accomplishments as each person’s directly participating contribution has to be assessed and evaluated on its own merits.

  45. Hondo says:

    johca: Army stats for BSM w/V are now available for Vietnam and later conflicts, ditto those for ARCOM w/V:

    https://www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/Awards%20and%20Decorations%20Statistics%20by%20Conflict

  46. johca says:

    SSG Michael Cox, wow you are in a sour mood today. Meritorious combat is being defined by you and now that you have provided your definition we have a common base line of understanding. I regards to combat action or contact with enemy forces I agree with you. Unfortunately even the recent eligibility stipulation “limits award of the Bronze Star Medal to service members receiving imminent danger pay” has not made participating in direct ground combat the eligibility requirement for Bronze Star without V device awarded for service or extraordinary achievement.

    The Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in direct support of combat operations or for service in a combat zone has no must be a combatant participating in engaging the enemy in direct combat requirement. Both the Bronze Star Medal and Meritorious Service Medal have single acts of merit and meritorious service criteria of being lesser than that required for award of the Legion of Merit. The degrees of merit criteria for the Legion of Merit are certainly officer with command or in key duty positions oriented.
    Pertinent to this conversation:
    After 16 January 1969 but prior to 11 September 2001, the Meritorious Service Medal is authorized to be awarded only for meritorious service or achievement while serving in a non-combat area.
    And
    Title 10, United States Code, section 1133, (10 USC 1133) limits award of the Bronze Star Medal to service members receiving imminent danger pay.

    Until September 2001 combat area had a bit more clarity of the battlefield having behind enemy lines, battle Front lines and rear area support areas. The receiving imminent danger pay came about because in combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan there is no clear behind enemy lines, on the battle front, or being rear element support, but there was still clear demarcation of deployment locations being under high probability of indirect fire, suicide bombers, IEDs and such. Eligibility to be paid and receive imminent danger pay now defines being in the combat zone, whether the service member is in an active combat zone or not is certainly open to debate and differences of opinion.

    The Bronze Star with V has significant specific directly engaging enemy or being directly engaged by the enemy criteria the meritorious serious and extraordinary achievement eligibility criteria lacks.

    Hondo, thanks for that link. Being retired Air Force I tend to look for Air Force Stats and as of last year I was told the Air Force didn’t have those Stats.

  47. SSG Michael Cox says:

    I guess being an Infantry grunt E-1 to E-4 carries no weight to be recognized with a Bronze Star for service but {only} in death.I do not agree that a v-device, demanding a particular act of valor is the only way to honor soldiers who are risking their lives in direct actions against the enemy. This is why I only made a suggestion relative to this award. The Army Commendation may be the correct level of award based on rank and responsibility but it misses the total value of life while giving a bronze star {a combat zone award only}to those of rank that sit behind the desk! Speaking for myself,this is pure BS. GENERAL Marshal should have tried another way to recognize infantry men !!!

  48. 11BScottie says:

    SSG Cox,

    A General did come up with a way to honor Infantry men. It’s called the Combat Infantry Badge.

  49. fm2176 says:

    I’ll touch on a few points made by earlier comments:

    The CIB is indeed intended to recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by Infantrymen. Most 11Bs I know consider it the single decoration they are most proud of. Only two awards in the US Army are exclusive to the Infantry (and SF)–the CIB and the EIB.

    Blanket awards of the CIB were not uncommon earlier in the conflicts, unfortunately. My company even had a few late-2003 replacements show up and get CIBs despite seeing no combat. Those of us who had fought in Baghdad and elsewhere were not happy, but what could we do? We even had a platoon leader show up and get both a CIB and BSM despite only having three months in theater and never being under fire.

    I’ve had Soldiers get their ETS awards downgraded for “lacking rank”. My recruiting battle buddy, though, had his downgraded because he didn’t play the game.

    When he was close to PCS’ing and hadn’t even been put in for an award, he submitted his own. Our former Station Commander proceeded to take one of his bullets out (verbatim) for an ARCOM recommendation for another Recruiter, and then recommended a downgrade. I don’t know if it was because he was outspoken about some of the other Recruiters, or because our leadership’s pleas for him to convert fell on deaf ears, but four years and dozens of contracts meant nothing to the SC.

    Long story short, I left with an AAM I barely deserved (if at all) for three years in USAREC having never written more than one contract a month. My battle buddy left with an AAM when he deserved at least the ARCOM that was standard fare for most detailed Recruiters, despite spending four years out there and writing more contracts than 90% of the company.

    This was the same company, though, that gave an ARCOM to an E-7 who had spent ten years there and written well over a hundred contracts only a few months after giving a detailed Recruiter who made the MSG list an MSM.

    Unless an award is given for extraordinary achievement or heroism, I could care less about it. Everything else is just a pat on the back subject to different degrees of firmness based on how honest or corrupt your leadership is.

  50. 11BScottie says:

    True. The blanket awards are BS. However even the Army in their own words said that “Badges are tended to be veiwed as more prestigious then ribbons or medals” which is why the created the badges for us, instead of a CAR like the Navy/USMC or the new combat medal the AF has.

    It’s something everyone sees on your normal fatigues, where no one would know if you had a silver star or purple heart due to them being worn on dress uniforms only.

    As for the ARCOM, I was awarded one in country, but misplaced the orders on the way to turn everything in to get recorded by the clerk for our DD214, and tried to turn in the certificate later like they told me and said they needed orders, so it’s not on my DD214 even though I still have the awarding certificate with some numbers on it that may be used to locate the original orders one day, I just never cared to look into it as I was doing my job.

    Besides I was used to getting fucked y the Army, wether it be awards, money, rank etc.