Paracord Paul kudos go out to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who canceled the creation of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal. Hagel’s predecessor, Leon Panetta, previously approved the award, which would have ranked above both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, military awards that are won on the battlefield. The about-face followed protests by Veterans groups and lawmakers.
There was even a threat of legislation by a group of U.S. Senators and Representatives, who would have forced the Defense Department to downgrade the precedence. One Vietnam combat veteran Dom Domingos, a recipient of both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, put it this way:
I was gonna take my medals that I’ve worn and displayed proudly for 40+ years and my certificate if the decision had gone the other way … [and] put them in the bottom drawer of my dresser because I’ve been diminished.
The Distinguished Warfare Medal would have recognized outstanding service of military drone operators, many of whom have already inflicted remote-control destruction on enemies of the United States in the ongoing high-tech war on terror. Ironically, those who objected to the award never advocated its abolishment; rather, it was the really dumb decision to rank it ahead of the following awards:
- The Bronze Star. This award dates back to the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and is awarded to any service member for distinguished conduct showing bravery, not including participating in aerial flight. The act that justifies the medal has to be performed while fighting an enemy of the United States. The act must be praiseworthy and meritorious. The medal can be awarded for a single act or continuous meritorious service in time of war.
- The Purple Heart. Awarded in the name of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart dates back to 1917, World War I. Any military or civilian national of the United States serving with one of our armed forces, who has been wounded or killed, or later dies as a result of the wound, rates the Purple Heart. Like the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart is a combat award. After March 28, 1973, eligibility for the award was extended to anyone wounded as a result of a terrorist attack against the United States. Award is automatic, and the person receiving it does not have to be recommended but only has to meet the criteria.
What’s next for cyber warriors?
After canceling the medal, Hagel ordered the military leaders to come up with a special pin or device that would be attached to already existing military decorations, somewhat along the lines of the Combat V device. The Pentagon has 90 days from the April 16th announcement to make its recommendations.
I’m pleased with this turn of events — how about you?
At *your* service,