P.O.W.S Essay, Research Paper
The military has lost its mind by awarding six medals to the three released P.O.W.s. I do not mean to rag on the three troops — although one did write a “Thank You” note to his prison guards for his swell Motel 6 treatment, but more to the point is the damage such giveaway policies do to our military awards programs. Remember what Napoleon said about awards: “Give me enough ribbon and I will conquer the world.” So that all of you have a complete list of the awards the three “heroes” got, I will list them for you:
Army Commendation Medal
Armed Forces Medal
United Nations Medal
The Purple Heart is awarded for wounds suffered while in armed combat with an opposing force, for wounds received while in combat “operations” in a combat zone or for wounds received from terrorist acts while in the military. It is also awarded to the next of kin when someone is KIA or dies as the result of wounds received. How can the Pentagon give out Purple Hearts for injuries received that are no worse than those received in a H.S. football game? Yes, they were soldiers; yes, they were on a mission and yes, they were “treated roughly” — broken noses, cracked ribs, chipped teeth, cuts and abrasions. Is the Army telling me that the same award for being killed, maimed or shot-up in a firefight is the same award for taking a fist to the chops — “treated roughly”?
I propose a new award — the “Black & Blue Device.” It would resemble the old W.W.II ruptured duck or just be a plain Red Cross on a white background the International Sign for First Aid. And by the way, it was the President himself who referred to them as detainees and stated that they “weren’t in a war zone.” Now they’re hailed as conquering heroes and given combat awards
for sterling performance in a war zone.
The Army Commendation Medal, also known as the “Green Weenie,” is awarded for “meritorious achievement” or for “valor in combat.” It’s meant to be a slap on the back for a job well done. What was meritorious or valorous about these three soldiers conduct? No weapons were fired except by the Serbs and the Pentagon’s three latest heroes — remember Capt. Scott O’Grady
(Bosnia) and Warrant Officer Michael Durant (Somalia) who received similar heroes’ welcomes when their actions were also on the “flakey-side” — didn’t successfully evade the “enemy.” All the latest poster-boys did was surrender. That kind of violation of the “Code of Conduct” gets rewarded? Article II of the Code states: “I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.” The purpose of awards is to inspire and recognize troops when they have stood tall in battle, fought the good fight and displayed valor “in the face of the enemy.” That could entail returning fire upon a superior force and shooting holes in some bad guys. Put simply, a fighting force needs to inspire and recognize FIGHTING, RESISTING, and COMBATING the enemy. What is referred to as FIGHTING SPIRIT! As Hack pointed out to me, “They give a
medal out now for just being a P.O.W.” Yes, I do believe that surviving as a P.O.W. is an accomplishment that requires, in most every case, heroic efforts just to survive, but giving an award for it seems trite, condescending and demeans all the past P.O.W. heroes such as Vice Admiral James Stockdale and Colonel George “Bud” Day. In nearly three and a half years in a combat theater, Audie Murphy received 13 decorations and a battlefield commission. During his hitch with the 3rd Infantry Division, he fought from North Africa to Sicily to Italy to France and right on through Germany and into Czechoslovakia. All his time was spent in rifle companies and the number of days he spent in the line was damn near 400.
Audie Murphy, America’s most decorated G.I. from WWII, gets 13 awards for 400 days of battling with Nazis, killing Nazis and seeing his friends killed day in and day out. These three Cavalry troops who didn’t return fire,were the victims of rough treatment, and who surrendered receive half as many awards as Audie Murphy? Audie actually punched holes in enemy troops. Against a superior force, Audie used a .50 cal while atop a burning tank destroyer for damn near an hour — he single-handedly could account for 50 enemy KIA’s. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and lost half his ass in the process. It seems to me that these three troops are, like Capt. O’Grady and W.O. Durant, being used, and are victims in all this. From where I sit the whole fiasco sounds like “meritorious underachievement” while being used as part of some “Clark Clinton Super Spin” campaign by the Army, NATO and the
Administration in particular. Soldiers who deserve a Purple Heart are troops such as Navy Lt. Jack Daly. Jack was lasered by a lasing device from a Russian ship, the Kapitan Mann, in 1997. His eyesight is deteriorating and he is in constant pain. He may eventually go blind. The U.S. Navy has not awarded him a Purple Heart, however. Why? Because you cannot see his wounds? Or is it that acknowledging his wounds may create another National Security crisis, further hurt our relations with the Russians and wouldn’t make good Clinton “spin”?
Don’t focus your anger and derision at the three troops involved in this mess. The Army failed in its primary mission to these troops — prepare them for combat. The current “Be All You Can Be” and “Consideration Of Others” training crowd of PR types is to blame. Troops in a combat area should be trained for combat and resistance. Weapons carried should be loaded, enough ammo made available and the will to use them instilled. These poor fellows were trained for failure, I’m afraid. Now, it seems, that “failure” must be hidden behind the smokescreen of creating heroes out of three very used and confused poster-boys. (Hack Note: The other day I saw a woman soldier at an airport who had five rows of ribbons. She looked like a cross between a Russian General and Douglas MacArthur. If this give away program — which has made the US military’s awards system a Barracks joke among our NATO Allies
continues, the Pentagon will soon be issuing awards with the MRE. Kind of like the toys that used to be in Cracker Jacks.)