The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

28 March 2006

We don't need this stinkin' badge

When I was in the Army during the French and Indian War — okay, I'm not that old, but my first term of service began 34 years ago this week — we tended not to be too impressed by the Good Conduct Medal, and even less by the National Defense Service Medal, which we disparaged with terms like "fire guard badge."

I'm not sure I'd say that today. There was some sort of war going on, but I was rather a long way away from it, and I earned a total of three medals on active duty, two of which were the oft-derided GCM and NDSM. (The other was the Army Commendation Medal, which I'm going to have to tell you about someday, since the story, like rather a lot of mine, is slightly wacky.)

And apparently the Air Force is no longer awarding the GCM, which is no big deal, says Dave:

Military personnel are expected to engage in "good conduct" at all times, so rewarding them for doing so just seems to be a waste of energy and a pointless display of colored ribbon. I would prefer that the time spent processing such medals and paperwork, and purchasing them, and arranging them on uniforms, instead be spent doing something more tangible that truly helps the military fulfill The Mission.

And while I can't argue with Dave's premise, I'm goofy enough to think that pointless displays of colored ribbon are part and parcel of the military experience, and I'd hate to sacrifice them on the altar of the Great God Efficiency.

Posted at 7:16 AM to Dyssynergy


Part of the problem, I think, is the cheapening of medals. I know of cases where the members of an entire finance detachment were awarded Bronze Stars -- a detachment that arrived in Saudi Arabia 30 days after the shooting stopped in Desert Storm, and who never got out of Riyadh.

Of course there are the cases of the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor in the early days of the War Between the States to units whose enlistments were ending and the Federal government offered them as enticement to stay-on.

But you are certainly right about the effect that a little piece of ribbon has. There is nothing like being called "front and center" for the awarding of decorations on morale, when it is truly earned.

Posted by: John Owen Butler at 8:08 AM on 28 March 2006

Well, Bro,
I was denied my good conduct medal after my stint in the USN
because, according to BUMED "Petty Officer Hill does not adhere to the United States Navy's height and weight standards"..this was heartbreaking as I was a "4.0" sailor...never written up never any NJP...had commendations from numerous authority types, including Commodore of my destroyer squadron..I even had buddies who lost stripes for dope and they received theirs. I would have been a "lifer" had I been able stomach the injustice...maybe I should write my congressman

Posted by: paulsmos at 11:29 AM on 28 March 2006

They were denying people reenlistment for that sort of thing, as I recall. (Probably a good thing I got out when I did.)

Posted by: CGHill at 9:11 PM on 28 March 2006

They still do to a certain degree (discharge folks for being overweight) but only after some real wrangling with fitness testing, etc. BUT at the same time the Army now has a new recruit policy to take recruits with aobut double the body fat they used to.... I have to find that article ... it was interesting....

Posted by: Ron at 12:54 PM on 29 March 2006