More About Awards

Since there is no horse too dead, nor any cat too flat, let me suggest the following modifications to our Armed Forces awards chart:

Awards edits

Let’s have a look at the ones I would can, and why:

Defense Distinguished Service Medal– The same as the Distinguished Service Medal, except GOFOs get a separate one for doing something “joint”.  Rescind it, and either replace with the DSM, or the star for additional awards of DSM.

Defense Superior Service Medal– The “joint” equivalent to the Legion of Merit.  Another 0-6/GOFO bauble.  Get rid of it.  Award the Legion of Merit, or stars for additional awards.

Defense Meritorious Service Medal– You got it, the “joint” MSM.  Rescind.  Award MSM or stars for additional awards.

Joint Service Commendation Medal– Notice a trend here?  You have a service branch, presumably.  Make the Joint HQ convince your service branch that you rate your service branch’s Commendation Medal.  If they can’t, maybe you shouldn’t have one.   Certainly not some “joint” equivalent.  Rescind.

Joint Meritorious Unit Award– Precisely the same rationale as the JSCM above.  Except for the collective.  If your outfit was that good, your service branch should award as appropriate.

Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal– Never understood creating an expeditionary medal for wars in which campaign medals were sure to be minted.  I might be able to see it for guys in the Philippines and elsewhere, not in IRQ or AFG.  BUT, we have the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for that.  Rescind, and replace it with the AFEM.

Global War on Terror Service Medal– This formerly held the position of “Dumbest New Award”, but has been overtaken by the Drone Medal.  Get rid of it.  They already have the National Defense Service Medal for those who didn’t deploy.  (Formerly known as the CNN Medal.  As in “You saw Desert Storm on CNN?  Me too!”)  Rescind without replacement with a current equivalent.

Armed Forces Service Medal– “Significant activity”?  Are you kidding me?  Rescind without replacement.

Humanitarian Service Medal– Another non-warfighter feel-good award.  Get rid of it.  After Hugo ripped through South Carolina, Marines from MCB helped out cutting and clearing trees, and delivering water, etc.  The base CSTAFF spent a formation droning (!) on and on about how they worked twelve hour days for two weeks to help out.   Meanwhile, the Drill Instructors continued their 140-hour work weeks for the entire two year tour.  So the Sgt from base motors was awarded this thing while my Sgt Senior Drill Instructor got zilch, and had his NCM downgraded to a NAM.

Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal– Makes the Humanitarian Service Medal look like the Iron Cross.  Away with it.

Overseas Service Ribbon– Another “everybody gets one” trinket.  You were PCS overseas, with all the concomitant bennies that the UDP bubbas pumping to WESTPAC didn’t have.   Want a ribbon for being OCONUS?  Ride a gator freighter for 200 days.  Or do Camp Hansen unaccompanied.

Recruiting/Drill Instructor/Marine Security Guard Ribbons– Wrong, wrong, wrong.  No “special duty” ribbons on a Marine uniform.  Lousy idea from jump street, let’s get rid of them most rikki tik.

These are, of course, in addition to the Distinguished Warfare Medal, hereby unofficially known as the “Stays in Vegas” Medal.

Before you ask, yes, at least three of these are ones I am authorized.   By comparison, my Dad came home from the Pacific, after eleven landings and almost three years, with four ribbons.  One was a Navy Good Cookie, and another was the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with four battle stars.   Along with a PUC.  He got a WWII Victory Medal on his way out in ’46.  In 1991, we had people sit at Al Jubayl for two weeks and come home with five.


It would do us well to have senior Officers that look like warriors instead of Idi Amin, or BG McSoulpatch.   Just sayin’.  Any others I failed to mention that should go?

18 thoughts on “More About Awards”

  1. Honestly, I’d say the NDS could go as well. It’s really just a feel-good ribbon, just to let everyone have something on their uniform.

  2. The Army Service Ribbon is awarded for 90 days of successful service. If you make it through basic training, you get it. It’s like the service ribbon starter kit.

  3. My battalion deployed to Gitmo back in the mid 90s to process boat people from Haiti and Cuba.

    I never went (I was attending school).

    And yet, I still “earned” some Joint Meritorious award, probably the JMUA.

  4. Awww… I’d miss my JSAM. End of service award, but I always justified the JSAM over the AAM for the fact that I never gave in to temptation to strangle a zoomie over their constant whining that their (already superior) living conditions were so below standards they were used to. That’s GOT to be worth something.

  5. The Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal is not a goof off medal. It demonstrates that you didn’t just sit around in bars drinking yourself silly but instead contributed additional effort to help your community. Unfortunately in the Air Force you have to apply for it yourself. rather than your boss putting you in for it. If your boss is paying attention to what his men are doing he would know about those who spend their time and money in the local joints and those who were helping in their communities. of course, I am sure that the Marines consider tearing up bars as good community effort.

    1. You get a medal for not sitting around bars? For additional effort to help your community? Sorry, not the stuff of medals. Admirable, certainly, but not the stuff of medals.

      Give me a Marine Sgt that shows skill and courage in the face of the enemy, who leads other Marines into the fight, even if he tears up a bar in Jacksonville or Oceanside from time to time. Because that is what we are in the business of doing. All the services are, whether they think so or not. I want the volunteer to be first into a fortified building, or the volunteer to carry the extra belt of ammunition, or lead the security patrol.

      Medals? For community volunteer work? Good God, no. Get them a handshake and a gift card from Home Depot. Medals and ribbons are for warriors, not Kiwanis.

    2. URR, just don’t go saying bad stuff like about Rotary around the Armorer. He would get very upset and you don’t want a guy as heavily armed as he is annoyed with you.

  6. QM,

    Even JTA would agree that getting a military medal for being in Rotary is dumb as they make ’em.

  7. Let us be conservative on the medals and the ribbons. i remember the austerity of the past when everything counted to reserve our resources. Army cast away equipment passed down to Marines for refurbishment. Savings on ammo Rifle range once a year. No field jacket issue. No problem. Find a way make due. People complain about the chow. Glad to have chow. Napoleon who managed to bomb out on his expeditions escape back to Paris as a victor before the bad news arrived would say;” A Give a Soldier a medal and he’ll march another 20 miles.” When your team does the work takes the risk and the critical for their maxed effort and they have to attend a ceremony whereby people who did almost nothing receive the credit receive the bonus check receive the meritorious award medal service ribbon etc… it is a stark reality to the backbone of hands on worker bees who made everything possible. i’m not impressed with ribbons rank and titles as you find assumptions can lead you the wrong way and it can be costly. A young Doctor ; Michael was his name when i praised him; He was only about 19 years old and on his way to being a Doctor at the university of West Australia Royal Perth Hospital…When i praised him with admiration…he reported back with a naked but truthful answer… ” i’m not successful; Successful people got there because they trampled on the fingers of the people who did the work.” Single handed;The Lone Sailor knows what to do stands his watch looks after his mates feels responsibly as responsible as The Captain. The U.S. Marine mans his post and wherever he is in garrison or in the field;He realizes it is his battlefield his mission and when on watch and the leadership is present or unseen; He is as responsible as the COmmandant of The Marine Corps.” Pride is your ribbon. Pride is your badge of courage. Pride in being professional in what you do as the ultimate as be a heroic warrior… A Marine Private looks almost no different from a second Lieutenant. The Corps saved cash on not having to plant a gold bar on my shoulders. Dollars that can be used for war. The Marine Corps will not waste money. Traditionally; The Marine Corps Commandant would like to return unused saved defense dollars to Congress once a year. Dangerous work; Career risks and sacrifices of the military families; the people at the front who have to slog it out;They are all heroes all good people. A shower of Silver Stars on your men and women who have fought well exhibiting selfless courage is good. A spread of merit badges for people who punched their ticket all the way to the Pentagon? It may not be a good idea to cast medals in replacement of merit work you made an oath to do in the first place. Duty Honor Country. Stand up for what is right and know when to stand down. i couldn’t take a Cold War Medal. We did our duty and that was expected of us…. Even if you were alone lost buddies and were bunker-ed down in some computer center or running between 3 operating rooms at once helping with the surgeries. “Many are called. Few are chosen.” Senator John Kerry threw his medals back in protest of The Vietnam War. If we make medals;Let’s sell U.S. Commemorative stamps and Victory Bonds to finance the making and the distribution of these awards, ribbons and medals.

  8. Well, if you’re going to go cutting a swath through the awards & decorations, I would say you could add two more to the stack:

    The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal: the Navy & Marine Corps already have service-specific expeditionary medals, so the AFEM is really the “joint” version. Get rid of that and let the services award their own for non-campaign medal actions.

    The Armed Forces Reserve Medal: Yeah, I’ve got one with a silver hourglass, a bronze “M” for being mobilized, and a letter 2 for two mobilizations. Still, it needs to go. It used to be awarded for each 10-yr period of Reserve service – which is also denoted by service specific awards (namely, the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal and the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal). We don’t need another medal to tell everyone we deployed – that’s what campaign medals are for.

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