Thursday, January 3, 2008

Awards Rant, Part I

Once upon a time in the Green Zone (IZ), there was stationed a Lieutenant who worked at a desk. This LTs sole purpose in life (at least, his life for the 6 months he was in the IZ) was to determine the equipment needs of the Iraqi Army and procure the necessary supplies. This was a vitally important function to the establishment of a new Iraqi Army, but it rarely required him to leave his desk, in his cubby hole, in the heavily fortified Green Zone. When LT did have to leave his desk, it was usually to do the normal things people must do - eat, sleep, go to meetings, and smoke cigars. It is upon the latter thing that our story takes place today.

One day the LT was outside his office, smoking a cigar with a few other people. They were having their normal discussion, minding their own business, when some pesky insurgents lobbed a 60mm mortar from an unknown location far, far away. Unfortunately, this mortar happened to land close to the LT and his cigar buddies. Not close enough to hurt any of them, but close enough so that their table shook and they heard a big portion of the loud explosions that mortars make. As anyone who lives in the IZ knows, mortars are an unfortunate part of life. So they scrambled for cover, waited for the "All Clear" signal, and went about life.

Nothing came of this, but a week or so later, the LT decided he was having some hearing problems. He also decided that it was a result of the mortar attack that he narrowly escaped. Now, I've been pretty damn close to many a mortar and rocket, and when they land, they tend to shake you up, and they are loud. However, like most Soldiers, I shake them off and go back to business as usual. Occasionally I hear air being hissed from a truck and get goosebumps, but nothing major. Not our LT, though. He was permanently damaged (actually, the doctor diagnosed temporary hearing loss).

With medical diagnoses in hand, our brave LT went about the cumbersome task of writing himself up for not one, but two combat awards - the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge. On the first pass up his chain of command, poor LTs awards were denied. However, he seized opportunity when it became available int he form of a change in his command structure; he presented his packet to the new commander and up his award went.

A few weeks went by and LT re-deployed to the US, his insufferably long 6 month deployment finally over. Nothing was said of this award until a close informant confirmed the impossible - LT received not one, but both highly honored combat awards. And he deserved them - after all, the long patrols he went on, and the nights he spent trying to stay awake guarding his remote combat outpost .. . oh, wait, he didn't do any of those things. No, but he is a decorated combat warrior, a recipient of two awards that represent our bravest and finest warriors, people who sacrificed themselves physically for our country.

Yep, wear them with pride LT, because all that face time you had with the general who signed off on that garbage finally paid off. When people see your decorations, and ask you what happened, make sure you tell them something horrific. We don't want anyone getting the wrong impression that you might not have actually earned them. After all, the criteria for the newly formed Combat Action Badge clearly state that "the Combat Action Badge provides special recognition to Soldiers who personally engage the enemy, or are engaged by the enemy during combat operations." And you clearly did that, right LT?


Anonymous said...

Those of us who know know you or soldiers like you also know who the real "heroes" are in this mess. The medals don't "make the man (or woman), but I am sorry that some will receive them who don't deserve them, thus lessening their meaning to those who truly earned them with their lives or limbs. Stay safe and know that we are praying for your safe return home to your family.
Marissa's Mom

ex-officer gambling w/ irr said...

If they only knew brotha, oh the stories you could tell.

Can you imagine being a Patriot Missile crewmember sitting in Qatar (don't they serve beer there?) and getting a Bronze Star for the protection you provided our brave 2005....when there are no operable scuds in Iraq.....maybe they shot down some 107mm rockets.

Anyhow, it's your blog so I'll shut up...were we seperated at birth?

Bag Blog said...

You might have to give out the Lt's name so that we don't vote for him when he runs for President.

david santos said...

Hi Jason!
Have a lovely, happy, healthy and successful 2008!

Anonymous said...

This story would only be made better if we knew the LT was a West Pointer.

Jason said...

Marissa's Mom - Thanks!

ex-o - sadly, there are too many stories just like this one, as I'm sure you know. Feel free to share anytime!

bag - if the time ever came where that was needed, you can count on me.

david - thanks - you too!

anon - he may have been!

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks, Jason. This sadly diminishes the importance of the two Purple Hearts my brother was awarded in WWII. Keep Bag Blogs post in mind for sure.

Stay safe, we enjoy reading your words.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that really sucks.

Mark said...

ahhhh yes..... the awards situation my favorite, I wont even go into mine. So angry!!!!

unhappycamper said...

I'm still trying to figure out what my two Bronze Stars are for. As near as I can tell, they're for successful breathing after my Vietnam tours.

Peace Brother, and Happy New Year.

HUGGINS said...

Oh the infamous I've got to get as many awards to prove my manhood type of thing still doubt...I remember serving in
Somalia in 1992-93 prior to the horrible tragedy with the U.S. Army Rangers, I recall only wanting to come back to Fort Drum with all of the soldiers in or detatched to our unit alive...oh well for integrity...some have it then again some do not

libby said...

i love those one liner quips like the one you've got of flattery - absolutely hilarious!

LT Nixon said...

I got a booboo on my shin running to a duck and cover several months back. Where can I get a copy of this paperwork?

Brandon Friedman said...

You should out this guy for being a shitbag. Seriously.