New and Improved | Main | The Aggressively Ugly

September 1, 2004


Posted by Mike on September 1, 2004 4:14 PM

There will eventually be people who can offer actual expert opinion about the strange case of President Bush's medals, but I'm here to offer one piece of relevant military experience: Unit awards are one of the least understood bits of gewgaw the average soldier pins on his class A uniform.

Most troopies understand what it takes to earn a gold star on your jump wings, or the right to wear a "combat patch" on your right shoulder, or what one must do to wear an expert marksman's badge, but the whole matter of unit awards/citations are a mystery, and they tend to be solved by the average leader with "the rest of us are wearing them... get down to the PX and buy one because you're a member of this unit, too."

If Bush was wearing a unit citation award of some kind on his uniform, the chances are very good he was told to do it by someone who only vaguely understood the rules behind those medals. I wore a few unit awards on my own uniforms despite having no idea where they came from because my platoon sergeants, as part of preparation for inspections, would note that I was missing them. Could they explain where the ribbons came from or how the unit earned them? No. I know they couldn't because I asked, and I was always told "we all wear 'em."

I understood they were for something the unit did because they had the word "unit" on the package when I bought them down at the PX, and because they went on the right breast of the uniform, which is where my little AR 670-1 cheat-sheet said unit citation ribbons go.

dd214.jpg I'm offering up this bit of insight because I know some people will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of having counterdirt to sling at the repugnant sacks of shit who have been mocking John Kerry's service and casting doubt on the worth of his Purple Hearts. This is a trivial matter. I hope no one I like and respect makes mention of something as stupid and commonly botched as this as if it proves something. Please move on. Spend your rhetorical gifts on something that matters.

There are, by the way, three mistakes on my own discharge records: They're missing a medal (an Army Commendation Medal), they botched my marksmanship badge (I didn't qualify as an expert the last time I fired a weapon), and they got the name of my occupational specialty wrong. Feel free to have a look by clicking on that thumbnail: It's a copy of my allegedly canonical DD214, which is one of the first places to look when investigating who's entitled to wear what on his/her uniform.

Preemptive note: I know that "they" have made an issue of service by either strutting around in uniforms they couldn't get out of quickly enough when "they" were "serving." I know that "they" are asking for this by taking issue with Kerry's own war record. It just doesn't matter. Go over to your Republican neighbor's with a homemade pie and spend the evening talking issues, why don't you? You'll get a lot further than screeching at them about George's potentially unearned ribbon.