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Speaking of awards...

 What with the Stolen Valor eruption from yesterday, and the new ad on the blog for a website that allows you to make "ribbon rack" mugs and such, that generated a discussion amongst us oldsters about awards.

My oddest award (though I didn't think of it as such until yesterday) was what I got for being the Honor Grad from the USAF Air-Ground Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Fl. This institution is a joint venture with multi-service staff that trains, among other things Joint Targeteers and ALOs.

As an Honor Grad, you get one of these... (well, you did in the late 80's/early 90's)

Not a certificate, nossir.  The Air Force lives large, compared to the other services.

AGOS Honor Grad poster.

A poster.  Suitable for framing.

This is in addition to the standard diploma-style certificate.

And from our discussion of awards, that poster would apparently have qualified me for a ribbon, too, had I been in the USAF.


Good thing it's got that Official Seal affixed.  Otherwise, some web guru would be selling them to nefarious characters to hang on their I Love Me walls. Now we know why the Air Force created the AF Recognition Ribbon, to keep down the clutter on the uniform. Can you imagine having to wear that poster around your neck?
Oh, I dunno...when I was active, the Army passed out medals like candy compared to the Air Force. MSM? Pulse required. LOM? Strong pulse required. Bronze Star? Strong pulse and no priors.

Then there's the uniforms. Oi.

As for certificates? Whatever. You can always give it back/throw it away. Me? I usually lost them in moves. 

Can't defend the Army, although they have cleaned up their act a little.  The Air Force is still trying to live down the dust up when folks who never set foot off of Whiteman AFB, MO received Bronze Stars during the Kosovo Air War. It's all gotten out of hand, even in the USMC.
And, Mr. Panther, we were bemused to discover that the Air Force has a ribbon that covers things like that HG cert. 

We've been making the point that our Generals look embarassing, and the trend of handing out a bit of ribbon for everything (in all services) has taken us to the point where "If everybody is special, nobody is special." 

And we know that's not true.

For everybody. 

The AF makes themselves an easy target with the sheer breadth of offerings.  The Army makes themselves a target by their excessive generosity/low threshold standards (and severe internal inconsistancy) for awards.  And the Sea Services are catching up.

The solution isn't "more command emphasis" and micromanaging.  The solution is devolution.  And a simple forcing function in one case would be - limit the number of rows you can display.  Let the troop decide what he or she wants to put up there - but limit it to three rows and you'll quickly see what people find important.

QM is special. I don't need no ribbon or poster to tell me that.
Well, your ego is invincible, that's for sure!
It is with pieces of colored ribbon that men are led.  -- paraphrase of Napoleon I Emperor of the French.
During my brief stint in the inter-war years ('90s), it seemed that if you PCSed (or in my case, ETSed), you were apt to get an Army Achievement Medal if you had done a good job. If you worked in the same unit for a longer period of time, then you might not get an award. Some of that was turnover in the operations section; likewise, the commanders turned over in two years, the XOs about the same. Nobody really noticed someone who had been there day in and out and had kept their nose clean.

That's what I remember one junior NCO in the motor pool complaining one day; but I almost recall the XO taking care of him and getting him an Army Commendation medal.

I remember looking at picture's of prior commanders of my company (captains), and they would have one ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon. I had two right after I arrived since everyone had the National Defence Serice Medal (by direction of the Secretary of Defense, natch). Since that time, a lot of people have been overseas so there's expeditionary medals. Then there's the NCO devopment ribbons that you get upon graduation from, I think, Primary Leadership Development Course.

In other words, there are a lot of medals to win; but there's medals and there's medals, which I think most people understand. An Army Achievement Medal isn't exactly a Bronze Star; I'm glad to have mine, and I think a little bit proud of it, but it hardly holds a candle to my uncle's Silver Star that he won in the Phiippines. 


Whatever happened to, "It's an honor just to serve."??

Militaries have (or, rather used to have) one purpose: fighting. I'd be tempted to eliminate all madals (Russian pronunciation) that don't reflect battlefield experience.

Which is why I never made General. Yeah, that's it.
Actually, John, QM is right. QM is special as one of the three "Senior" rates in the Navy, the other two being Boatswains Mate and Gunners Mate. Up until the 50's these three rates wore their rank insignia (crows) on the right arm instead of the left arm, and right up to the 70's we got a number of shipboard  priviledges the others didn't, such as head of most lines, and first off in a liberty port. Sadly that's all gone now, along with the rest of "my Navy".
TwoFiveZulu  - I've met QM.  I stand by my statement.  ;^)

 Armorer recognizes my innate specialness. I've met the Armorer and I will state for the record his innate specialness as well. Don't need no poster for him neither.

25Z, that's because we were one the three traditional Naval Ratings. The rest are just Johnny come latelys.
I remember in IOAC, when there was a such a thing, asking a Pakastani officer why he, a Major, had only one ribbon?.  Most of us (captains) had two or three.  The Pakastani said they obnly get ribbons for combat.
 I own an Army Commendation Medal that was pinned on me by my battalion commander, when others were getting MSM's for less.  Awarded in a battalion formation.  A loud and thunderous chorus of "BOO's" echoed across Speicher.  I teared up because the boo's were not for me.  Best ARCOM ever.
 I gave that ARCOM to a Soldier that was awarded an AAM and deserved more.  Wasnt official but the point was made
Refreshing comments as always...
  You have all "been there and done that", therefore you have the credibility to make the observations you are making.  I, as one who has not served and has no credibility to comment (but will), have noticed how plain the Class A uniforms of many WWII Generals and Admirals (who also served in WWI) appear in photos after the war as opposed to the utter silliness I see decorating our 3 and 4 star officers when they appear in public.  These World War officers also received numerous awards from many allied nations...BUT: 

   All medals are indeed not equal, and some are downright silly.  Even George S Patton (who loved regalia more than most) was thoughtful and respectful of the profession in his choices of ribbons appropriate to the occasion (see The Patton Papers, Blumenson).  There is something untoward about an individual anxious to adorn himself with non-combat awards and a service that encourages this.

ALL:  A Sincere Thank You for Service (and an enjoyable blog).

Best, Mark (lurker)