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MoH Recipient: New Unmanned Medal is ‘Ludicrous’

Jack Jacobs, retired U.S. Army colonel and Medal of Honor recipient, adresses forward deployed troops at a USO event in 2005. US Air Force Photo

Jack Jacobs, retired U.S. Army colonel and Medal of Honor recipient, adresses forward deployed troops at a USO event in 2005. US Air Force Photo

The creation of the new medal honoring unmanned vehicle pilots and cyber troops, “is a telling and sad commentary on the judgment of those who are responsible for the creation and approval of this award,” Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam veteran, told USNI News on Wednesday.

Jacobs, a retired U.S. Army colonel, joined veterans groups and members of Congress upset with the precedence of the Distinguished Warfare Medal created to recognize contribution away from the front lines.

“The very name of the decoration is ludicrous. ‘Distinguished’ implies a level of admiration that can’t possibly be reached in the prosaic act of piloting a drone,” Jacobs said.

Currently, the Distinguished Warfare Medal is higher in precedence than the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

The Distinguished Warfare Medal was announced in February by then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The award almost immediately came under fire from Congress and groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, would lead a 30-day review of the medal. Pending the review, the new medal has ceased production, Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Tuesday.

The medal designed to honor the contribution of unmanned vehicle operators and cyber troops is a work in progress, Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen told USNI News on Thursday.

“Nobody has been put in for the award and each of the services are establishing criteria and procedures for processing requests within their own respective departments,” he said.
“We have time to make sure we get this right.”

Jacobs not only questioned the ranking of the medal but also its existence.

The Department of Defense, “already has a plethora of medals for distinguished, meritorious and commendable service, and any of them could be awarded if a benighted chain-of-command believed that a drone was being flown in some exceptional fashion,” he said.

“Although these weapons are used in warfare, that in no way implies that the operators are warriors themselves. They are decidedly not.”

  • robert_k

    Ludicrous is an understatement!

    If Hagel doesn’t add a bit of sanity to this policy, I recommend the CNO and CMC establish service level policy to prohibit naval personnel from being nominated for the award. It will clearly show this is an air force led initiative. AF awardees will look like fools for wearing the medal and will suffer the scorn of true military professionals.

    • devil dog

      CNO should take away combat pay for 98% of sailors, most couldn’t keep up with the stewards on a cruise ship on Carnival

      • devil dog

        that submarine stuff is real tough and warrior like toooo…….torpedoing people —–no medals for that especially the cook and captain…..don’t do a thing……if you aint loadin the weapon in the tube you get nothin, not even your chicken ration

  • devil dog

    most navy squids shouldn’t get combat pay either, all they do is watch tv and eat ice cream and cry about being away from home with the bunk buddies

  • devil dog

    and those are the one’s at sea. the rest are sittin on shore duty watching jag and ncis — put on a green uniform and grab a rifle and stand the post —- whimpy sailor boys

  • devil dog

    what about john kerry’s fake medals all show like 99%of aquids

  • devil dog

    actually you guys are idiots, these warriors are tracking people in more detail than a sniper and have long conscious streams leading up to the moment of ending human life
    if the navyhad invented it they’d be having white house ceromonies with receptions in annapolis —— go watch ncis squid scum

  • And they say immersive role playing games don’t sink in. By the logic of awarding medals for drone pilots we should award weapons and tactics qualifications to gamers for achieving competence in their chosen games. The award should be like a badge, nothing more. Meritorious Service represented by a couch with a popcorn cluster.

  • Roger Parkhurst

    I couldn’t agree more. Use the existing medal’s to acknowledge “distinguished’ performance in the job. It will be the job of the chain of command to assess if the action warrant;s it. Also, would this medal ever be award posthumously? Could an effective use of a drone save a life, protect a squad, provide protective fire to allow time for injured troops to be recovered?…yes. I am sure there are many classified applications that have demonstrated the precision and initiative of the operators as well. If a medal is needed create a “badge” like the paratrooper’s or Infantry or Seal’s to acknowledge the skill and level of performance. I would like to think our military and political leaders are already acknowledging those “drone” operators that have “distinguished” themselves without the need of diverting resources to create a new medal.