WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is poised to order the military services to review more than 1,000 medals issued since the 9/11 terror attacks for possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest award issued for valor in combat, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.If approved by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the sweeping review would represent one of the most significant steps in decades to honor troops who have displayed extraordinary courage in combat. The review stems from a study of military decorations and awards that was ordered in March 2014 by then Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “to ensure that after 13 years of combat the awards system appropriately recognizes the service, sacrifices and action of our service members.”Should even a fraction of the medals under review be upgraded, it’s possible that dozens more troops would receive the Medal of Honor for their bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I don’t think there’s “hundreds” of Medals of Honor out there that were wrongly denied. But I do think there are probably a couple cases where awards were wrongly downgraded. And the Navy/Marine Corps assertion that a review would undermine confidence is the system is silly. Trust me, no one has any confidence in the system as it exists today.
Yes, the Army and the Air Force tend to be more liberal with awards than the sea services. That’s primarily at the Achievement and Commendation medal level.
Like John Donovan, I was deeply concerned that the first years of the war saw a reluctance to award the Medal of Honor to anyone living. A review is well founded.