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This has been on some site but this is the first I've seen in a major paper.

Sometimes even the Washington Post prints something that's got it right, IMHO.

washingtonpost.com

Leave the Medal of Honor Alone

By Ed Hooper
Thursday, October 1, 2009

On Sept. 17 President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of Army Staff Sgt. Jared C. Monti for "conspicuous gallantry." Monti, 30, was serving with the 10th Mountain Division when he was killed June 21, 2006, in a battle at Gowardesh, Afghanistan.

This Story
Leave the Medal of Honor Alone
This was the sixth occasion since Sept. 11, 2001, that the nation's highest military award has been bestowed. Unfortunately, some are pushing for this decoration to be awarded more generously because they believe the number of recipients is too low.

More than a dozen groups and lawmakers are lobbying the Defense Department to award this honor more frequently -- in effect, to lower its standards -- and to upgrade to the Medal of Honor other decorations that soldiers have received. In debate over the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, the Pentagon was criticized for setting decoration standards too high. The "low numbers" led Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to insert a conference report in the authorization act "to review the current trends in awarding the Medal of Honor to identify whether there is an inadvertent subjective bias amongst commanders that has contributed to the low numbers of awards of the Medal of Honor." It directs Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to report back to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees next March.

The Defense Department's definition of "hero" has stood the test of time. And the standards for this nation's highest military award are appropriately strict.

The Medal of Honor is the least-understood U.S. military decoration. In 1916, a committee under the leadership of a medal recipient, Gen. Nelson Miles, reviewed each instance of award, set up investigative standards and rules, and strengthened the requirements (including specifying that recipients must be actively enrolled in U.S. armed forces at the time of their act of bravery). The "Purge of 1917" stripped 911 Medals of Honor from those not deemed worthy of having received them; the most well known of these are 864 awarded during the Civil War to the soldiers of the 27th Maine, who received the medal simply for reenlisting. Sadly, amid political pressure, some of the medals taken away were later returned.

The Medal of Honor is presented ceremoniously by the president of the United States in the name of Congress, but the Defense Department chooses the candidates. The department has historically based its decisions on soldiers' actions and merit. Most of those calling for the medal to be bestowed more frequently couldn't name any of the 95 recipients who are still living or the remarkable actions that led to their awards.

The Medal of Honor is a combat decoration not limited to a past battle or present circumstances; it is also about how succeeding generations will view the individuals on whom it was bestowed and why. Most Medals of Honor have been posthumously awarded, and the citations justifying its presentation are Homeric stories of bravery that centuries from now are likely to stand unrivaled beside the stories of great warriors and citizen-soldiers throughout history.

The uniformed men and women of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy will tell you that the Medal of Honor is a warrior's award and that it is their decoration to present only to those whom they regard as fit to wear it. Politicians, pundits and civilian organizations -- however well-meaning -- should have little say in who receives it.

Nor is our Defense Department unique in bestowing its highest combat decoration sparingly. More than 50,000 British troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 360 have been killed in combat. The British Secretary of State for Defence, however, has awarded only two of that nation's highest decoration, the Victoria Cross, for actions under fire. The United States has fielded three times as many troops and awarded three times the number of our highest decoration since Sept. 11, 2001.

Yet this honor is not about quotas or statistics; nor does the number of presentations reflect on the modern soldier's valiant service on the battlefield. The Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross are prestigious decorations of valor, not to be taken lightly or dismissed.

The strict standards for the Medal of Honor are meant to keep it credible. It is wrong to pressure the Defense Department to lower its standards of individual courage, nobility and self-sacrifice on a battlefield. The department should make its own decisions on this award so Americans will know that when it lauds someone as a "hero," we should all take notice.

Ed Hooper is an author and journalist from Knoxville, Tenn., who has reported on military affairs and assembled educational programs on the Medal of Honor. A version of this column was distributed by History News Service.
 

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Well, I'll be the first to disagree here. The criteria for the MoH has become so stringent anymore that a living MoH awardee is all but impossible. This wasn't the case in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
 

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I'm still trying to figure out what to say without using bad words...I'll have to come back to this...it confirms my opinion about people in DC who have a hard time understanding anything - and some were elected [by those who showed up to vote and presumably could read and/or perhaps think], and then those dufus's appointed like-minded people...and here we are. Anyone got a giant eraser so that we can start all over again?? On second thought...
 

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Very good article! Thanks for posting. I tend to agree with the sentiments of the author.
 

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I agree with the author: leave it alone. I remember reading about Roy Benavidez in a Readers Digest when I was in grade school . I was astounded. His story is like that of a viking. Not long ago I read an email forward originally written by the doctor who attended to him at his death a few years ago. When I was in college there was a signed photo of him in the restaurant I worked in from when he'd visited once. I wish I'd been there to meet him.

I felt like the Clinton administration politicized the award with a lot of the retroactive medals they gave to people who previously had not been awarded the medal.

Congress needs to butt out and recognize that the name on the medal is as close as most of them should get to having anything to do with our highest decoration.
 

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:yup: Brad Kasal. Enough said.
But he didn't receive it, he got the Navy Cross, which is nothing to sneeze at.

I have a theory as to why there there appears the be this stinginess in the awarding of the MoH in the last 15 years or so.

1. No more declared wars, only "Operations" and "Conflicts"
2. Political issues such as a long chain of command that a medal recommendations now goes through, which ends up at the desk of someone who isn't even in the same theater of war.
3. Political correctness; why should one person receive the Medal of Honor when "everyone is supposed to be the best"; a twisted version of the "everyone's a winner" mentality.
 

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But he didn't receive it, he got the Navy Cross, which is nothing to sneeze at.

I have a theory as to why there there appears the be this stinginess in the awarding of the MoH in the last 15 years or so.

1. No more declared wars, only "Operations" and "Conflicts"
2. Political issues such as a long chain of command that a medal recommendations now goes through, which ends up at the desk of someone who isn't even in the same theater of war.
3. Political correctness; why should one person receive the Medal of Honor when "everyone is supposed to be the best"; a twisted version of the "everyone's a winner" mentality.
Agreed, but still...while the guy didn't jump on a grenade, he did shield his injured Marine and took the frag, that alone should have been worth it, not to mention the rest of the damage he took protecting his Marines. It's not that common for a 1st Sgt to go to that level....

I'm going to stop now, I'm in a hi-jacking mood today it seems.
 

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It is my understanding that Sgt. Major Brad Kasal is still being considered for the MoH award.

Sgt. Major Brad Kasal - An American Hero

On November 13, 2004, (then) 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal led his 3/1 Marines into a Fallujah firefight. Before it was over, he would receive 47 wounds and lose sixty percent of his blood supply. 40 of those wounds were from shrapnel - he shielded a wounded Marine, LCpl Nicoll from a grenade with his own body - and the other 7 were from enemy bullets. And he walked out of the fight, pistol in hand.



 

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I generally agree with no changes to the "standard" established, but I would also hope there are more "living" Medal of Honor awardees. It seems to becoming one where they have to die before they can receive one.
 

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They should leave it alone. These people wanting to change it are probably the same ones a while back that were wanting a purple heart equivalent for personnel not in actual combat. We had to see this coming.

For a long time I have been upset with how we have cheapened the term of hero. Many don't like my views but I have never believed that a job makes a person a hero. I'm sorry but all soldiers are not heroes. Neither are all teachers, police, firemen, etc. Very few people are actually heroes in real life. It is important that we don't make the term hero so common that it loses its value.

Michael
 

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I agree, leave it alone.
It seems to me standards for everything just keep getting lower and lower. And morals follow. Look where some people's personal values have fallen to.:frown:
 

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I agree, leave it alone.
It seems to me standards for everything just keep getting lower and lower. And morals follow. Look where some people's personal values have fallen to.:frown:
+1 Leave it alone.
 

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Leave it alone. If I remember right, the citation says "Above and Beyond The Call of Duty" Of all of the MOHs awarded throughout history, most all have been awarded posthumously.
 

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I'd have to say standardize, but don't lower, the criteria. If you read the citations for those who received it and those who received other medals, sometimes it's hard to distinquish btwn two nearly identical events. The one that comes to mind (unfortunately, can't remember his name) is a soldier or Marine who was shot repeatedly in a house to house search, but had the presense of mind to roll over onto a grenade saving the rest of his 7 man squad. The official story is that he didn't receive the MoH b/c he was already mortally wounded when he rolled over on the grenade, and thus couldn't have made the conscious decision to give his life for his buddies. Additional info is that he was born in Mexico and I'm not sure if he was already a U.S. citizen.
 

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Why do they always forget the USCG?:rant:

(Leave the standards alone.)
I agree to leave the standards alone.


The Coast guard is not a part of the DoD, not since 1947 and is now a part of the Homeland Security crowd. That being said any sailor that served or was attached to a naval unit in a time of war is eligible for any decorations so associated with that service.

The original bill in 1913 stated;

the Coast Guard, which shall constitute a part of the military forces of the United States [emphasis added] and which shall operate under the Treasury Department in time of peace and operate as a part of the Navy, subject to the orders of the Secretary of the Navy, in time of war or when the President shall so direct. When subject to the Secretary of the Navy in time of war the expense of the Coast Guard shall be paid as a part of the Navy Department.
Some good reading here.
http://www.uscg.mil/history/h_index.asp

http://www.uscg.mil/history/faqs/VietnamKIA.asp
http://www.uscg.mil/history/faqs/vip.asp
Lieutenant Samuel W. Allison, USCGR, was awarded the Silver Star during World War II for: "conspicuous gallantry in action as Commanding Officer of USS LCI(L)-326 during amphibious landings on the French coast June 6, 1944.
Ensign Richard A. Arrighi, USCGR, an officer on board the cutter Escanaba, was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on 18 August 1943, during rescue operations off Greenland on 3 February 1943.
Water Tender William H. Best, a crewman of the cutter Seneca on convoy duty during the First World War, was posthumously awarded a Navy Cross "for services in attempting to save the British merchant steamer Wellington after she had been torpedoed by a German submarine, and who lost his life when the Wellington foundered on September 17, 1918."

On April 25, 2004, Damage Controlman Third Class Nathan Bruckenthal, USCG, from Smithtown, New York, and two U. S. Navy sailors were killed in the line of duty while conducting maritime intercept operations in the North Arabian Gulf. He and six other coalition sailors attempted to board a small boat near the Iraqi Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal. As they boarded the boat it exploded. Petty Officer Bruckenthal died later from injuries sustained in the explosion. Petty Officer Bruckenthal was the first Coast Guardsman killed in action since the Vietnam War. He was assigned to Tactical Law Enforcement South in Miami, Florida and deployed with Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia aboard the USS Firebolt. This was his second deployment to the Arabian Gulf for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
 
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