You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Local vets happy with ‘drone medal’ decision

Springfield Air National Guard’s Predator drone pilots would have been eligible.


It was never about the medal, local veterans say.

It was where the Pentagon wanted to rank the ill-fated Distinguished Warfare Medal in the military’s hallowed order of precedence that outraged those veterans whose medals are a reminder that they were willing to sacrifice life or limb.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last week canceled the new medal that would have honored the drone pilots and cyber operators who have changed the way wars are fought, albeit from miles away.

“We all recognize that they need recognized,” acknowledged Doug Wood, a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran from Clark County. “What went through us like a sword was when they wanted to put it above the Bronze Star and above the Purple Heart. That’s when it got a bad taste in my mouth.”

When Hagel’s predecessor, Leon Panetta, announced in February the creation of the medal — instantly derided as the “Nintendo Medal” by some — it was to be ranked directly below the Distinguished Flying Cross in the order of precedence.

That would have ranked the proposed Distinguished Warfare Medal higher than the Bronze Star, which often is awarded for valor in combat, and the Purple Heart, which can only be awarded to someone wounded or killed by an enemy.

Hagel, himself a recipient of two Purple Hearts from his time in Vietnam, ordered a review of the medal, halted its production and, finally, nixed it outright, but not before lawmakers in the House introduced legislation to prevent it from being ranked above the Purple Heart.

Instead of a separate medal, nontraditional warriors in remote locations now will be recognized with a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals.

“Amen,” said Dave Bauer, commander of the Clark County Military Order of the Purple Heart.

It goes without saying that local combat veterans are pleased by Hagel’s decision.

When contacted by the Springfield News-Sun last month about the medal controversy, Bauer, a Vietnam veteran who was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in 1969, could barely contain his ire.

“I can’t believe the way people are thinking anymore,” Bauer said then. “That’s like the ‘Twilight Zone,’ isn’t it?”

Tom Storer, a Springfield resident who served in Vietnam as a Marine, said it’s hard to equate the experiences of drone pilots, many of whom are based in the U.S. and get to go home every night, to troops in the field.

“It still takes boots on the ground to win a war,” said Storer, who said when he was in Vietnam, he was promised one meal and one hour of sleep a day.

“You don’t get that hour all at once,” he added.

Among those who could have received the Distinguished Warfare Medal are guardsmen at the Springfield Air National Guard Base, who are now tasked with remotely piloting Predator drones around the clock on combat air patrols.

Local drone operators already have been awarded the Air Force’s Aerial Achievement Medal a number of times. Created in 1988, that medal honors sustained meritorious achievement in flight going above and beyond normal expectations.

The Pentagon’s only mistake then, veterans say, was the proposed ranking of the new medal.

Otherwise, “It would have flown,” said Wood, a recipient of the Purple Heart. “They’d already be issuing them.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Gloomy weather expected for inauguration in DC
Gloomy weather expected for inauguration in DC

By Eric Elwell, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist It will be gloomy and rainy in our nation’s capital Friday as hundreds of perhaps thousands attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. The wet weather in the Miami Valley Thursday night and early Friday will head to Washington, D.C. Rain there is expected to develop by mid to late...
Jury acquits Jackson Center police chief in sex case
Jury acquits Jackson Center police chief in sex case

A Shelby County Common Pleas Court jury found Jackson Center Police Chief Joseph Cotterman not guilty in one of two sex-related cases against him. The jury deliberated for four and a half hours before acquitting Cotterman of a gross sexual imposition charge stemming from a complaint filed by a 19-year-old woman in January 2016 with the Shelby County...
Springfield man charged in death also convicted in seperate murder
Springfield man charged in death also convicted in seperate murder

A Springfield man has been charged with the murder of a woman who’s bones were found in a wooded area in Greene County last May. Prentiss Hare, 35, has been indicted on charges of aggravated murder, murder, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse in connection with the death of Tiffany Chambers. RELATED: Man sentenced in Springfield...
Northeastern residents debate $100M school plan
Northeastern residents debate $100M school plan

Northeastern Local School District leaders say they want to make sure the community is educated on potential options for new schools that could cost more than $100 million before a scientific survey is launched in the coming months. Officials at Northeastern — the second largest school district in Clark County serving around 3,200 students &mdash...
Clark County school district warns on phone scam
Clark County school district warns on phone scam

Northwestern Local Schools officials are advising the Springfield community about what they believe is a phone scam involving school tax collections. District officials on Thursday evening sent a Facebook message to the community that "Northwestern does not collect any funds directly nor are we contacting community members regarding this."...
More Stories