With all the flack on the awards position of Sill Bunch
I've had cause for
reflection on what our "salad bars" were and are.
Civilians see someone in military dress uniform and
somehow expect anyone
who is senior in rank to have a lot of pretty "things" on his chest. As a
youngster, I did, but it took the comment of an ROTC instruction to give me
an inkling of what they really meant. He stood in awe of another who wore
the badge of a Master Parachutist.
Those "things" we so carefully place, adjust, and readjust
on our dress
uniforms is the equivalent of a field 201 file for a knowledgeable
serviceman. There are badges to denote special qualifications, ribbons
denoting overseas service and combat campaigns. There are ribbons denoting
awards to units who engaged in exceptional combat service. There are the
ribbons, representing medals denoting distinguished or exceptional service
by the individual serviceman and finally, the most prized of all, ribbons
(representing medals) denoting bravery and valor in combat. Each had its
carefully designated place and position when worn and seldom would one ever
consider wearing something that was not rightfully earned and justified.
The Viet Nam era (not just Nam) changed that. I think
it started with the
National Defense ribbon. The WW's and Korean times were gone and the new
soldiers didn't have all the pretty goodies to adorn their uniforms.
Therein started the idea of having something to wear.
I remember back at Bragg in the mid-seventies, those
of us who had time in
'Nam got tired of being inspected by Officers and even Team Sergeants who
didn't have all the nice stuff to wear (and didn't know how things were
worn)and started wearing only unit citations, CIB's and jump wings on our
class A's. We knew who we were and didn't need these non-combat turkeys
telling us (usually wrongly) how to wear our awards and decorations.
I CRS (maybe Kelly) but a new CG took over and mandated
that for the next
payday formation ALL awards and decorations would be worn. With all the
losses that "Group" had taken with the 5th leaving VN and the cat fights
for slots at Bragg, it was shocking to see how many of the experienced men
had gotten tired of the pinecone details and left for senior leadership
positions in conventional units. His comments which drifted down to the
teams afterwards amounted to "there's your experience; let's use it to
build Post-Vietnam Special Forces."
Since there were more men that didn't go to VN than
did, the Army had to
come up with something for the newbies to wear: didn't look like any new
wars in the near future. They gave us "finished basic training" ribbons,
NCO School level ribbons, served in peacetime ribbons; can't remember what
else. We already had marksmanship badges with shingles for every weapon
imaginable as well as hand grenades! What the whole thing did was degrade a
system whose real purpose was to recognize the combat and combat support
soldier: the guys that actually fought the battles, got dirty and stank,
got hurt and often died. I also think it created the mentality that pretty
doodads were more important than real accomplishments.
That kind of mentality shows up with the wannabes who
decorations but worse, shows up in people like that navy captain who really
doesn't seem bothered by a man misrepresenting himself as one who genuinely
fought for his country.
I personally believe that everyone on this list, and
off, who struggles to
publicly identify and put down those who dishonor our uniforms by either
wearing unearned accoutrements or ALLOWS the wearing of such, are doing a
tremendous service to all who really have risked their all for our country.
That navy captain is no better than Bunch.
Keep up the good work!
Lusterman - Maybe designing a ribbon for identifying
wanabes - with
campaign stars for each one