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.