previous post next post  

This is why...

 ...especially in this war, I pretty much don't get too excited about Bronze Stars on officers - unless there's a V on it, or it comes with a Purple Heart, CIB or CAB (assuming that CAB isn't for "mortar rounds that fell a half-mile away a couple of times while I was in the bunker.")

For most officers, the Bronze Star is a combat zone Meritorious Service Medal.  I would actually like to see them bump the BSM up by providing a "combat identifying device" for the MSM, and leave the BSM as a valor-only award.

Combat Zone MSM...


When the Bronze Star was established in WWII, it could be awarded for Valor, Meritorious Service, or Meritorious Achievement. In practice, awards for Enlisted Men were predominately for Valor, with awards for Officers being of all three varieties. Very few Enlisted Men received Bronze Stars for Meritorious Service or Achievement during the war. Some time after the war ended, all soldiers who had received a Combat Infantryman's Badge also received a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. This practice was repeated in Korea.

During Vietnam, a practice and perhaps even by policy, was that a soldier could receive two meritorious/service awards during a one year tour. For most, that meant an Army Commendation Medal after six months service and then a Bronze Star at the completion of a full year's tour. While intended to be primarily for combat troops, reality was that troops in the rear living a comparitively cosy existance with few dangerous moments received these awards in about the same proportions as those humping rucksacks. Because officers typically served six months in a line company, and then six months on the battalion/brigade staff; they more commonly received a Bronze Star for their first six months (which was in the field) and a second at tour's end for miraculous service on the staff. I saw to it that soliders and officers who left my rifle company either for the States or for duty elsewhere were recommended for a Bronze Star unless their performance had been below standard. Someone else took care of their end of tour recommendation, so that probably meant another Bronze Star for the officers. Since I spent all 12 months of my tour in the field, 7 months as a Recon Platoon Leader, and 5 as a Rifle Company Commander, I received an Army Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star.

So, your chances of getting a Bronze Star and especially of getting multiple awards actually improved with your distance from actual combat. Since the Bronze Star, together with the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge were the most visible badges reflecting that someone had actually "Seen the Elephant", they were highly prized, but the Bronze Star not as much because of the many paper pushers wearing them.  Not what was intended when the award was established.

John is right, the Bronze Star should be a valor award only with a combat device for other awards earned during combat service.
Until about 20 years ago I was under the impression the Broze Star was a valor only award. I agree with both the Armorer and Centurion on this issue. The ARCOM and others were established for meritorious service and the BS should be reserved for valor.

I seem to have a recollection that the Army Commendation Medal suffered from the same confusion. The ARCOM could also be awarded with or without the "V" (for valor) device.

And, as is that way of large organizations, the higher the rank, the less the medal really meant.

Lastly, what bugged me more than the medal awards was the "combat" pay. That the clerks and jerks were getting the same $65 a month as President Nixon's bush rats kind of galled me. But then I was only in it for the money. 

I was in it for the wild women and great parties. But, then as Humphrey Bogart said, "I was misinformed."
Well, that and you adulterated your whiskey until the Duke called you on it.
I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.
It does not matter what medal you have, its how you earned it.
When the Admiral Boorda thing went down, I was living in the same trailer with Ol' Major Unger.  We discussed that. He had a Bronze Star, which he was careful to point out to me was not for valor; he got it for the action for which he also got a letter of reprimand, and ordered to be in arrest in his quarters, which at the time were under a poncho on the ground, he being an advisor in Vietnam. He must have thought about shooting the radio, from time to time.

I saw his DD214.  He had an honest Combat Infantry Badge. He tried to explain the circumstances of that to me one time, drawing a map on a wet bar napkin, but I'm afraid I don't remember much of that, as every time I would ask a clarifying question, he would tip the beer pitcher over my glass and tell me to shut up and listen.
 This is an interesting post for me as I have a small personal stake in it.  I was one of the lucky officers to do the doubles trick in Nam.  My second tour as far as awards go was quite similar to all the comments above, BS, MSM, JSMS,  the usual stuff when you're working joint staff (read Saigon).  Looks good on the "rack" and your "66". My issue was  with my first tour  and the way officers in general are treated when it comes to "V" awards.  (I was enlisted for a few years too and put my boots on the same way) I was Provence/District advisor in southern I Corps and got involved  in a skirmish where I was recomended for a SS.  Ended up being severely downgraded to  an ARCOM with V.  In some follow-up I was informed by a clerk where the awards were processed that since I was an officer, still alive nor wounded I didn't deserve the  higher honor.  I don't feel so bad for myself as I do my brothers that might have had the same crap pulled  when  they  really deserved it.  I go along with what the Enforcer said above about the award not mattering, but how you did it.  And more importantly to me anyway is my CIB.