'Drone' honor angers combat veterans
In its current form, the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which is designed to recognize service members such as drone pilots and cyber warriors for achievements that do not involve direct combat, would be ranked above the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
"To say that somebody sitting behind a desk at a computer controlling drones deserves an award above (combat decorations) is really demeaning and demoralizing to people who received a Purple Heart or Bronze Star," said Paul F. Roy Jr., the cofounder of Veterans Awareness Coalition, which is based in New Hampshire. "It's an insult to the men and women who put themselves in harm's way."
Roy, a combat veteran of the Afghanistan War, said he received a barrage of angry emails from veterans over the new medal's proposed ranking.
New Hampshire U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen were part of a bipartisan group of senators who sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and recipient of two Purple Hearts, asking him to reconsider the new medal's placement above combat decorations.
"With your direct combat experience, you know too well that generations of Americans have risked their lives in combat, and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The precedence of combat awards recognizes these acts of heroism and should maintain as our military's highest honors," the letter said.
Responding to the criticism, Hagel on Tuesday ordered the military service chiefs to review the new Distinguished Warfare Medal and the Pentagon stopped its production, according to the U.S. Defense Department. The medal was introduced last month by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
"I'm encouraged that Secretary Hagel has ordered a review of the Distinguished Warfare Medal and its precedence in relation to combat medals," Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. "While extraordinary achievements in non-combat situations should be appropriately recognized, medals earned in combat for acts of heroism, bravery, and sacrifice should remain the nation's highest and most sacred military honors."
"Combat awards ought to be unique and the generations of Americans that have risked their lives on behalf of our country rightfully deserve special recognition," Shaheen said in a statement. "While cyber specialists and unmanned aerial vehicle pilots are obviously vital to our national defense, when recognizing their efforts we need to make sure we're not inadvertently diminishing the service of those directly in harm's way."
READER COMMENTS: 2
- Siege Day launched at Pinkerton; students gain hands-on experience with homemade catapults - 0
- Middle school student's mom says principal used chokehold - 19
- School board suspends driver's ed program in Manchester, will probe source of $180k deficit - 2
- Manchester middle school principal placed on leave - 2
- Lebanon begins search for new school superindendent - 0
- Inventor excites Manchester fourth-graders with math, science possibilities - 0
- Nashua officals tour technical education center - 0
- City fourth-graders to meet entrepreneur Dean Kamen - 0
- No 3-day weekend for kids in Manchester school system - 5
READER COMMENTS: 1
- Three indicted in beating, robbery of pizza delivery man in Somersworth - 0
- Man arrested as Manchester West High School intruder indicted on felony charge - 0
- Keene police say one charged with riot on Saturday, another arrested could face riot charge - 0
- Manchester man indicted on charge he ordered murder of city man - 0
- Husband found guilty, wife awaiting trial in murder of St. Johnsbury, Vt. teacher - 0
- No murder charge in stabbing of Manchester man in 'Black Acres;' self-defense claimed - 0
- Ottawa police say male suspect in attack and soldier are dead - 1
- Keene police release riot images, seek help with identification - 0
- Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon to care for any potential NH Ebola patients, state announces - 0
Locked in a dead heat, Shaheen, Brown spar
NH's back-road rest areas fading away
Fall hikers throughout NH put on notice
Locked in a dead heat, Shaheen, Brown spar
Team Obama: Faking right, voting left
Preventing riots: What should Keene do?