Via CDR Salamander comes word that the DoD has forwarded a recommendation to the White House for an award of the Medal of Honor. For the first time since the Vietnam war, the recommendation is not posthumous.*
The soldier, whose nomination must be reviewed by the White House, ran through a wall of enemy fire in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley in fall 2007 in an attempt to push back Taliban fighters who were close to overrunning his squad. U.S. military officials said his actions saved the lives of about half a dozen men.
It is possible that the White House could honor the soldier’s heroism with a decoration other than the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor. Nominations for the Medal of Honor typically include detailed accounts from witnesses and can run hundreds, if not thousands, of pages. The review has been conducted so discreetly that the soldier’s family does not know that it has reached the White House, according to U.S. officials who discussed the nomination on the condition of anonymity because a final decision is pending.
I haven’t read every citation from Vietnam or previous wars, but I’ve read a great many. And comparing the citations to various awards of the Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross in the War on Terror to MoH awards in previous wars, it certainly seems that DoD and the services have set the bar at an unattainable level.
I’m pleased to see this may be changing. I’m not at all arguing for debasing the award and giving it out for frivolous reasons. But I am convinced that there are Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines out there that have performed their duties in a manner so beyond reproach that they deserve the highest recognition that our nation can bestow.
I suspect one reason that there have been no awards to living recipients is a fear that the recipient might become a PR or political liability. But that is a poor excuse. First, many recipients have stated that whatever type of man they may have been before, wearing the Medal was a daily reminder that they had an obligation to their brothers in arms to live to the highest standards.
Further, the award is recognition of the actions of a member at a specific time and place. Even should a member be a less than perfect human, for one instant, he rose above himself and achieved the acme of what we in the services hopefully strived for in terms of dedication to our duties. And if you want to encourage that dedication, you have to recognize that dedication.
Presuming the servicmember’s actions are worthy of the award, I certainly hope the White House will not be distracted by outside factors, and will fulfill its duty to recognize and honor those who have served above and beyond the call of duty.