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

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  1. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Do all of you think the Army uses the ARCOM to much in awarding its soldiers and not enough awarding of the Bronze Star for justified reasons that would warrant it reguardless of rank??

  2. SSG Michael Cox says:

    The CIB is a one time badge and does not cover a soldiers full tour of duty in a combat zone regardless of how many combat actions the soldier may be in. Any E-1 threw E-4 in the INFANTRY in an actual engagement with the enemy is risking his life directly to be a pop up target. The evaluation of his performance rest entirely on his leaders evaluation an not some {pimp in a wimps outfit in the rear}!!If he is recommended for a Bronze Star for MERITORIOUS SERVICE its because he has put his life on the line !!! THIS ACT OUT WAYS ANY E-1 to E-9 in the rear keeping his paperwork straight or doing an outstanding job!! You can always go home standing up. COULD THAT BE THE REASON WHY WE HAVE NO LONG LINES TO JOIN THE INFANTRY????? [ COULD BE ]!!! STOP TRYING TO EVALUATE$ A GRUNTS PERFORMANCE TO A SECURED AREA ! THEY ARE NOT ONE IN THE SAME IN A COMBAT ZONE !!

  3. SSG Michael Cox says:

    NEW PLAN!!! Let’s let the E-5 and above go out and engage the enemy and give them a Army Commendation for their efforts maybe they may not think that risking their lives to receive a non-combat award was showing value to their LIVES !!! IT WOULD SEEM VERY STRANGE IF THEY WANTED AT LEASE TO RECEIVE A COMBAT AWARD LIKE A BRONZE STAR!!! WHY??? DUH !!!

  4. SSG Michael Cox says:

    THE PROBLEM WITH THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL IS SIMPLE—- 1.. The Army gives a [non-combat award] for [combat] The Army Commendation medal! 2.. The army gives a [combat award] for [non-combat The Bronze Star for 2 different reasons meritorious service and Achievement. This is the problem with awarding this medal!!!!THE ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL HAS NO PLACE IN AWARDING IT TO SOLDIERS FOR COMBAT ACTIONS !!! IT WAS MADE TO AWARD SOLDIERS FOR DOING A GOOD JOB IN A COMBAT ZONE {{{ NOT COMBAT ACTIONS }}}!!!!!!!!!

  5. SSG Michael Cox says:

    IF THERE ARE {2} REASONS TO AWARD THE BRONZE STAR FOR NON-COMBAT THEN THERE SHOULD BE {2} REASONS TO AWARD IT FOR {{ COMBAT }}!!!!

  6. SSG Michael Cox says:

    HOW MANY IRAQ WAR VETS THAT WERE {INFANTRY } CAME BACK WITH ARMY COMMENDATIONS AND NOT BRONZE STARS??? HOW MANY WERE ENGAGED IN DIRECT COMBAT AND RECEIVED ARMY COMMENDATIONS MEDALS FOR THOSE ACTIONS ?????

  7. SSG Michael Cox says:

    A COMBAT DECORATION FOR COMBAT IS FOR ENGAGING THE ENEMY UNLESS ITS STATED THAT ITS FOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE OR ACHIEVEMENT! TO MANY INFANTRYMEN HAVE ENGAGED THE ENEMY IN DIRECT COMBAT AN ARE NOT GIVEN A COMBAT AWARD FOR THAT ENGAGEMENT UNLESS HE RECEIVES IT FOR VALOR REASONS!THERE IS NO COMBAT DECORATION GIVEN TO INFANTRYMEN WHEN THEY ARE ALL RISKING THEIR LIVES IN AN ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ENEMY ACCEPT A NON-COMBAT DECORATION LIKE A ARMY COMMENDATION!!!!

  8. SSG Michael Cox says:

    A BRONZE STAR RECOMMENDATION FOR ANY E-1 TO E-4 IN THE INFANTRY IS ALWAYS KICKED DOWN TO A NON-COMBAT AWARD LIKE THE ARMY COMMENDATION. [ ONLY ] IF HE IS A KIA OR IF THE AWARD IS FOR VALOR DOES HE RECEIVE A BRONZE STAR MEDAL OR ARMY COMMENDATION WITH A V-DEVICE. E-1 TO E-4 MADE UP MOST OF THE 58,000 KIA IN VIETNAM AND THEY WERE INFANTRY !!

  9. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Those of you of other MOS’s should get Bronze Stars if you actively engage the enemy at the risk of your lives as well in different actions that would warrant this decoration but the army seems bent on putting other guide lines for this award such as rank and positions of authority to justify it to higher ranking soldiers.THIS IS NOT THE REQUIREMENT FOR THIS DECORATION UNDER ANY REGULATIONS!!!!!!

  10. SSG Michael Cox says:

    THE BRONZE STAR IS AWARDED TO ANY PERSON IN ANY CAPACITY !!!!

  11. EdUSMCleg says:

    Good Lord..

  12. Hondo says:

    EdUSMCleg: he is a bit single-minded, isn’t he?

  13. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Just trying to get some reaction! Does it make sense to you people to award a bronze star only to a soldier who is killed in action in an engagement but then say he only qualifies for a Army Commendation in the same engagement if he survives because he lacks the rank ????

  14. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: given the fact that the guy KIA has paid a substantial additional price compared to the guy who lived through the engagement – yeah, I can live with that. And, frankly, I’d guess both the guy who was KIA and his family would trade that BSM and PH for an ARCOM and his survival – if they were given the choice.

    It might not be perfectly fair, but as JFK once said: “Life is not fair.” And IMO, the survivor with the ARCOM got the far better deal.

  15. SSG Michael Cox says:

    While clearing my Brigade in Vietnam in our rear area, the 173rd had an awards shack. This was one of the stations we had to clear to muster out of our unit to go home at the end of our tour in Vietnam. All we had to do is show the clerk our 201 file and he would then give us our awards if we had orders for them. The line of soldiers grew outside the shack to about 50 so I had a chance to see what was being awarded to each soldier. These men were all Grunts and I knew that a lot of them had been in actions during their tour in Vietnam. All E-5′s received Bronze stars and E-4′s received Army Commendations. A lot of E-4 were very pissed off for not being recognized for risking their lives in actions they had been in. 50 years later our 173rd Association are still trying to get membership. Screw a man that risk his life in the service of his country in combat gets { O } respect in return. They are all Proud of their unit but not those that led them!

  16. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Hondo I agree with you 100% about the difference between a mans life and his family wanting to trade any medal. The point in this is why awarding soldiers that do survive a non-combat award in the same engagement!They all risk their lives equally in the engagement so why not award a combat award?? Why de-value their effort to a non-combat award ??

  17. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: since 1964, the ARCOM has been an authorized combat decoration. If an individual received an ARCOM in Vietnam (or in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, or Afghanistan), they in fact received a combat decoration. It might be informally called the “green weenie”, but it’s a authorized combat decoration informally called the green weenie.

    Since the individuals were (presumably) infantry, the risk they faced in combat was recognized appropriately via their receipt of a CIB. If they were infantry and participated in at least one firefight as you describe, they rated one – and presumably received it.

    “Equal risk” is not the basis for award of military decorations. Decorations are based on performance/contribution/impact of the individual’s actions – not on merely being at risk. If the latter were the case, by your logic the guy who stayed in his foxhole during every attack to stay safe would be entitled to the same decoration as one who moved about the battlefield checking on his troops and directing their actions every time. That’s nonsensical.

    You really would IMO be best advised to simply let this one go. Your arguments here aren’t convincing anyone, and are frankly somewhat lacking in substance.

    Life is not always fair.

  18. SSG Michael Cox says:

    HONDO-Then according to you the PVT. and PFC. in WWII would never have been entitled to a blanket award of The Bronze Star because they already were awarded the CIB. There was nothing unique in justifying their entitlement under todays regulations.

  19. Hondo says:

    DA decided long ago that the World War II BSM should be so awarded to all Infantrymen with a CIB. They didn’t ask my opinion before doing it. Bluntly: I’d have said no.

    I’ve never been a fan of that decision. Blanket awards cheapen the meaning of an award. In particular, that action grossly cheapened the smaller number of BSMs that actually were awarded during World War II. When everybody gets something just for being there, it’s simply not worth as much.

    Yeah, that made a number of World War II veterans happy. But IMO that was a case of DA “screwing the pooch”. By doing that, DA screwed over the smaller number of World War II veterans who had done something exceptional or meritorious and been recognized for same with a BSM sans-”V” device.

    Decorations are designed to recognize outstanding performance, not participation or qualifications. We have campaign/expeditionary/service medals and badges to do the latter.

    In any case, the CIB/BSM conversion was a one-time exception to policy. For over 60 years (e.g., since Korea), the BSM has been awarded independently from the CIB; the two are no longer connected. The CIB is a qualification badge showing service as an infantryman in an infantry unit during actual ground combat. The BSM is a personal decoration awarded for either heroism less than that required for the Silver Star, or for MSM-level performance of duties in a combat zone. They are thus two different items, designed to recognize two distinct and separate kinds of laudable effort.

    For what it’s worth: an uncle of mine was awarded the Silver Star as an infantryman in Italy with the 82nd. He’d have rated the CIB, too. I don’t believe he ever applied for his BSM. Best I can recall, the only letters for decorations on his tombstone at Arlington are “SS” and “PH”.

  20. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Hondo In Vietnam on the morning of JUne 4th. my camp was hit . My camp had only 12 men in my platoon and we got hit by 35 to 40 NVA we had 4 NVA sappers that made it in the camp. I was shooting at the enemy at 35 meters. They threw grenades at my position and over threw my position. I ran to our small arms Bunker and had to get more ammo even knowing they were in our camp and then went from my bunker to my Platoon Sgt. bunker to give him ammo while under fire.I recommended Sgt. Larry Metheney for a Silver Star for killing three of the sappers at 10 Feet by shoting them threw the head at 2:30 in the morning with no lights in our camp period. The only lights we had were flash lights or BIC lighters. My rank was Sp/4 11/C an was part of a 81mm mortor crew as the company gunner. We all went out on ambush every third night just like the 11/B’s. By the way, tell me your MOS and your hair raiseing story or our you just a critic that stands by his own standards whith out being part of the fun in combat group !

  21. SSG Michael Cox says:

    By the way. when I was in Vietnam I was awarded the GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL by the 173rd. I had no idea that just because an award was given in a combat zone that it made it a combat decoration. NO!!! A ARMY COMMENDATION IS NOT A COMBAT DECORATION !!!

  22. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: you may not like it, but the truth is that the ARCOM has been a combat decoration since the Vietnam War – since 1964, if I recall correctly. Denying that truth as you just did above isn’t going to change it.

    Truth is truth – whether it’s what we want to hear or not.

  23. SSG Michael Cox says:

    If The Army Commendation Medal by itself is a Combat Decoration only. Then its not to be awarded in the States. Its only awarded in a combat Zone for non-combat reasons period. Only a Bronze Star can be awarded for Combat and Non-combat reasons only and only to be awarded in a combat zone! There for a Army Commendation Medal by itself without a v-device awarded in a combat zone is not a {COMBAT AWARD !!!!!}

  24. SSG Michael Cox says:

    JUST LIKE YOU SAY, A BRONZE STAR WITH V-DEVICE IS A COMBAT DECORATION ONLY FOR COMBAT ACTIONS !!!

  25. SSG Michael Cox says:

    THERE IS A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COMBAT ZONE AWARD AND AN AWARD FOR COMBAT THAT OCCURS IN THAT ZONE !!!!!

  26. SSG Michael Cox says:

    OTHER THAN THE C.M.H. OR PURPLE HEART A COMBAT DECORATION ONLY HAS OUR NATIONAL COLORS THAT MAKE UP THE MEDAL !!!

  27. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: you are absolutely incorrect. And there’s no need to be rude by shouting (e.g. using ALL CAPS), either.

    The only Army personal decorations that are “peacetime only” are the AAM and the MSM. And since 2004, even those can now be awarded in a combat zone for service that can legitimately be characterized as “noncombat service”. See the latest edition of AR 600-8-22 and MILPER Awards Message 181 dated 2 Dec 2007.

    Conversely, the only Army personal decorations that are combat-specific are the BSM, Silver Star, DFC, and MOH. (I’m omitting discussion of the PH as it is a rather special case, as one is entitled to a PH for meeting certain criteria vice a decoration awarded by one’s chain-of-command; however, the PH is also combat-specific.) And of those, only the BSM may be awarded for either service, achievement, or specific act of valor. The other three (Silver Star, DFC, MOH) are awarded only for specific acts of combat valor.

    The ARCOM, Air Medal, DFC, Soldier’s Medal, LOM, and DSM are all dual-purpose decorations (e.g., wartime/peacetime). Each can be awarded for either wartime or peacetime actions (award of the Air Medal and DFC in peacetime is rare, but it is authorized). The ARCOM, Air Medal, and DFC can be awarded for either meritorious performance of duty or for acts of valor in either wartime or peacetime. The Soldier’s Medal is awarded in either peacetime or wartime for significant acts of noncombat heroism. While theoretically the LOM can theoretically be awarded for valor, it is generally awarded for exceptional service over a period of time in duties of great responsibility – either in combat, or during peacetime – or as a retirement award. The latter is true for the DSM as well.

    No later than 1964, the ARCOM became a dual peacetime/wartime decoration. Since that time (if not earlier, when it was broadened to allow award to members of foreign military for valor), it has been authorized for award to personnel for combat-zone service, achievement, or heroism. It is thus today a combat decoration as well as a peacetime decoration, and has been since at least 1964. No amount of denial on your part will change that particular fact.

    Before spouting off on a subject, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Here, SSG Cox, you simply don’t – and you are publicly displaying that fact.

  28. SSG Michael Cox says:

    THE ARMY COMMENDATION ONLY STATES— { FOR MILITARY MERIT } NOT HEROISM !!!!

  29. SSG Michael Cox says:

    I KNOW THE ARMY COMMENDATION IS FOR PEACE TIME OR WAR TIME BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT A COMBAT AWARD {IT CAN BE AWARDED IN A COMBAT ZONE BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT A COMBAT AWARD!!!

  30. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: And your point is . . . . ? The BSM reads “Heroic or Meritorious Achievement” – there’s nothing there that’s exclusive to wartime or combat, either. Does that mean the BSM is NOT a combat decoration either? And what part of “or” do you not understand?

  31. SSG Michael Cox says:

    WE ARE ON THE SAME PAGE BUT MILES APPART IN WHAT I CALL A COMBAT DECORATION!

  32. SSG Michael Cox says:

    HEROIC REFERS TO COMBAT IN A COMBAT AWARD LIKE THE B.S.M. NOT MILITARY MERIT!!!

  33. Hondo says:

    SSG Cox: bull. The Soldier’s Medal is also awarded for heroism – but only for noncombat heroism.

    It’s a free country, so you can consider whatever you like a “combat decoration”. You’ll be incorrect, but that’s your business.

    However, the Army sees things very differently than you do. And it’s the Army’s opinion that matters – not yours or mine, or whether we agree. Because barring an Act of Congress, the Army – and DoD – are the ones who have final say.

    I can only tell you what the Army regs and policy say on the matter; I can’t make you accept reality when you wish to remain in denial. So I’m done wasting my time here. Out.

  34. SSG Michael Cox says:

    In 1964 only a Army Commendation with V-device was made into a {combat decoration} PLUS !!! it cannot be awarded in the states!!!! Why do you say a medal that can be given in wartime makes it a combat decoration. Just because a medal can be awarded in a combat zone doesn’t make it a combat decoration!

  35. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Combat Decorations and wartime decorations are not the same !!!

  36. SSG Michael Cox says:

    A BRONZE STAR IS THE ONLY COMBAT DECORATION THAT CAN BE GIVEN FOR NON-COMBAT REASONS IN A COMBAT ZONE!!!!! NOW LIVE WITH THAT BECAUSE THAT’S THE TRUTH!!! JUST BECAUSE YOUR IN A COMBAT ZONE DOES NOT MAKE ALL AWARDS { COMBAT }!!!!

  37. SSG Michael Cox says:

    While I was in the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam we had { BRIGADE SOLDIER OF THE MONTH ]comp. If you WIN you received a promotion to the next rank and a ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL. [[[ DOES THAT MAKE IT A COMBAT DECORATION????]]]

  38. SSG Michael Cox says:

    YES, I AM PUBLICLY DISPLAYING THIS FACT !!! THANK YOU FOR YOU’RE UNDERSTANDING !!!

  39. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    SSG Cox … report to sick bay immediately for evaluation!

    Any questions?

  40. Twist says:

    The Caps Lock key is all the way on the left, 3rd from the bottom.

  41. SSG Michael Cox says:

    NOTICE OFF CHANGE– Thanks for noticing the cap lock people !! To all R.E.M.F.s and all loosers in BRIGADE SOLDIER OF THE YEAR comp. like HONDO now named BOZO [I thank you for your support.

  42. OWB says:

    The “Caps Lock” award (non combat) for this week goes to…….

  43. Hondo says:

    Twist, MCPO: your call, gents – but I recommend you (and others) simply ignore future comments here. When someone’s mind is closed and they’re not willing to listen to fact, continuing to engage them in discussion is rather pointless.

  44. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Its nice to know by public opinion!!! Who’s mind is really closed and who is reading regulations based on people that earn their rank in the rear and bi-sect regulations to fit their needs in the rear areas in a combat zone !!!

  45. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    SSG Cox … did you report to sickbay yet? If not, report to the galley for KP duty for 60 days.

    That is all!

  46. SSG Michael Cox says:

    MCPO NYC USN [Ret] Did you know that different awards have different meanings in different branches of the service !!

  47. SSG Michael Cox says:

    Any wartime award that can be awarded in peacetime too is not a [ combat decoration ]!! Its a wartime decoration! This difference separates [[[ Combat Decorations ]]]

  48. Green Thumb says:

    I respect this guys resolve. I really do. Hooah!

    But he is slowly slipping into “clown” status.

    Very sad, indeed.

  49. Ex-PH2 says:

    Keep up the good work, GT.

  50. Ex-PH2 says:

    There are few people who can come close to Hemingway’s mastery of the short sentence. You are approaching that.