Barracks - The Importance of Medals
Stormbird - Dec 13, 2007 - 11:03 AM
Post subject: The Importance of Medals
This is an old article, but a valid one nonetheless. If you read this, just reflect a moment on Raptor-Pack. We award medals and badges to our members on a regular basis. Thus far, since starting Raptor-Pack, we have awarded over 1200 awards and ribbons, to say nothing of the badges, patches and other insignia. Those that bear their awards should be proud of their accomplisments, as we are proud of you for your efforts.
May 20, 1996
Suicide Over a Medal? An Ex-General's View
By BERNARD E. TRAINOR
His sin was venial, but the consequences were mortal. By his own hand last Thursday, the Navy's most senior officer put a .38-caliber bullet into his chest, ending his life. Adm. Jeremy M. Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations, killed himself when faced with disclosure by a magazine article that he had claimed two Vietnam War decorations to which he was not entitled.
The admiral had not masqueraded as a Medal of Honor and Silver Star winner. He had embellished a pair of minor achievement ribbons he had been awarded in the Vietnam conflict with small V's that signified that the awards were for combat action. As it turned out, Admiral Boorda was never authorized to wear the combat V's.
The admiral knew that the degree of his offense was minor. But it was not the degree that drove him to suicide. Mistakenly or not, he had violated one of the most sacred trusts of the armed forces: the integrity of military awards. The shame and dishonor were too much for him. Perhaps as exculpation he put a bullet through the very place where he wore the counterfeit awards.
Civilians may find it ludicrous that a mature and accomplished man would allow such a minor impropriety to drive him to suicide. Even military professionals were shocked at his action. There is nothing in the unwritten code of American military honor that condones or justifies suicide. Resignation is the usual path for those who perceive that they have violated a trust.
The demons that drove the admiral to kill himself will never be known. But he was aware that he claimed combat awards when he had never seen action in his long and exemplary career, one in which he rose from lowly seaman to the pinnacle of the Navy's hierarchy.
Civilian professionals look to their names on corporate letterheads, the key to the executive lavatory or an office with a window view as visible manifestations of status. For a soldier, sailor, airman or marine a decoration is the symbol of status within the military fraternity. It has ever been so in the military. Virgil in "Aeneid," in the first century B.C., extols the soldier with "Let all be present and expect the palm, the price of victory".
Within the armed forces the distinction between a combat veteran and one who has not seen combat is significant. It is a gulf that exists until one bridges it in a test by fire. Once across, those on the near side tend to discount its importance. For those on the far side, there is a vague feeling of unfulfillment. As he reached senior rank, Admiral Boorda may have brooded over the realization that he never crossed the bridge.
Military decorations testify to which side of that gulf the wearer stands. They are displayed over the heart as pieces of colored ribbon adorned with a variety of devices signifying bravery, battles, and multiple awards in peacetime or war. They are a visual testament to the wearer's military history, where he or she has been and what he or she has done. Awards have a strict hierarchy, the highest personal award worn at the top with others in descending order. One look at a row of ribbons will tell if a military man has been through the crucible of war.
Often irreverently referred to as "fruit salad" within the brotherhood of arms, the panoply of ribbons on a service person's chest have a mystique. They are the sacramentals of the military profession. Viewed as a manifestation of bravery and performance in a profession of violence, they establish the bona fides of the wearer.
When civilians first meet, they assess each other by dress, grooming, voice and other characteristics. When service people meet for the first time they immediately look at the ribbons each wears. In a way, it establishes a hierarchy of respect unrelated to rank. A colonel with minor ribbons will show informal deference to an officer of lesser rank cited for valor or with multiple battle ribbons.
A junior enlisted man wearing the light blue starred ribbon designating the Medal of Honor, awarded for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty, is held in awe by even generals and admirals. They conjure up images of what it must have taken to win that coveted award and in the process wish they had one. Even between nations the awards ritual is observed because military bravery transcends boundaries and enmities as the coin of the military professional's realm.
Napoleon Bonaparte knew the value of a military decoration and remarked, "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon." Mike Boorda knew also the value of decorations and cherished them. But in the end he assigned all too much value to them.
Jarhead - Dec 14, 2007 - 06:34 PM
I agree with your philosophy! I think it promotes a positive message and a way to say thank you for work being done. Too many times in our society people get taken advantage of with not a peep. Its sends a bad vibe. Its nice to see the command in raptor pack keeping a positive direction and saying a simple thank you. I also think its sets a good example and promotes commradary. So, keep up the good work and thank you for being supportive!
p.s. can i put you in for a spirit de corps medal?? lol
Stormbird - Dec 14, 2007 - 07:05 PM
Thank you for the compliment. As to the "esprit de corp" ribbon, I've got enough "fruit salad" now, lol! I've done my little bits here and there in RP and I'm grateful for the recognition bestowed upon me. I have always felt that others should be recognized for their contributions and try to insure this is accomplished in Raptor-Pack.
RoadRage - Dec 14, 2007 - 09:45 PM
Badges, we don't need no stinkin badges. lol
A little recognition goes a long way for a members morale.
It's good that command recognizes this.
A job well done.
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