What about Lt. Ehren Watada? Conscientious objector, or a disgrace in uniform?
Others, like Cloy Richards, leaves you wondering.
Kevin Tillman is a patriotic American who served; but who sounds as if he’s gone to the Kos cooler for one too many glasses of kool-aid.
Then there is Josh Gaines:
Josh Gaines, 27, plans to mail the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He said he will do so during a protest scheduled for Wednesday in Madison.
“I’m going to give those back because I truly feel that I did not defend my nation and I did not help with the Global War on Terrorism,” said Gaines, who lives in Madison. “If anything, this conflict has bred more terrorism in the Middle East.”
Gaines served a yearlong tour in Iraq between 2004 and 2005 with the U.S. Army Reserve. He spent his time guarding two military bases and issuing ammunition to soldiers but never fired a weapon, he said.
I will not disparage Josh Gaines’ character. He served his country and expressed his disatisfaction with the war.
Jonathan Dedering, a Students for a Democratic Society activist who is helping organize Wednesday’s protest, said it’s extremely rare for Iraq veterans to return their medals. The tactic was a more common form of protest among Vietnam veterans.
“To many Americans this will be a very big deal,” Dedering said in an e-mail message.
A member of Iraq Veterans Against the War agreed.
“I don’t know any soldiers who have served in Iraq and have returned their medals,” said Sholom Keller, who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq and has decided to hang on to his medals. “I personally am not into theatrical displays, but I would say that this individual’s actions are commendable.”
President Bush created the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal in 2003 to honor those who served after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Department of Defense reauthorized the National Defense Service Medal for the same purpose in 2002.
So how dramatic and significant is the act of giving back "attendance" medals? Jeff Emanuel serves up some perspective:
First of all, when I read this story to the group of people I’m sitting with right now — a Lieutenant, a Sergeant First Class, a Staff Sergeant, a Sergeant, and a Specialist in the active duty US Army — and in the place I’m sitting right now — in Samarra, Iraq, with a unit (which these gentlemen are members of) that has served 14 months of its 15-month tour here (and has lost twelve men during that time) — the result was not horror, but laughter. Genuine, serious laughter that somebody would be such a publicity-seeking idiot as to do something like this at an orchestrated protest. The laughter — and scoffing — grew as the soldiers here heard that the medals that Gaines (who was once an Army Reservist, and who — according to the AP — "served a yearlong tour in Iraq between 2004 and 2005" in which he "spent his time guarding two military bases and issuing ammunition to soldiers but never fired a weapon") was returning were, as mentioned above, the "Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal," of which, according to another supposed Army veteran, "most veterans of Iraq have earned at least one."
Emanuel goes on to tarnish and minimize the significance of Gaines’ bold, daring act of political defiance:
both of those medals are automatically given to every single person who goes to Iraq. In fact, the National Defense Service Medal is given to every single soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine who has served on active duty (including called-up Guard and Reserve), “…from 11 September 2001 to a termination date to be determined in the future.” The NDSM isn’t an Iraq medal: every active serviceman receives it.
The Global War on Terror (GWOT) Expeditionary Medal is automatically awarded to any individual who deploys not just to Iraq or Afghanistan, but to any one of thirty-three countries (or eleven different bodies of water), for thirty consecutive or sixty nonconsecutive days, in support of the GWOT. True, this award is related to – and a product of – Mr. Gaines’s Iraq deployment, but again, he would have received it for any of a number of different assignments and deployments throughout the world. It is not an Iraq-specific award.
The point here is that those are the automatic medals. Virtually every single serviceman who deploys to Iraq and conducts themselves with a modicum of professionalism while there (in other words, who is not such an utter dirtbag that they are simply awaiting the proper paperwork to be administratively removed from the Army) receives another award for their tour. Depending on what they did, that could range from an Army Commendation Medal to a Bronze Star Medal with Valor, or could be any one of several other things. Either Mr. Gibbons is holding out on his liberal friends (and holding back gifts from his good friend Rummy), or he was such a poor soldier in Iraq that he received no award for his entire tour — just the automatic medals, which recognize no award-deserving achievement whatsoever.
I certainly do not think of these commendation medals as worthless. Anyone who enlists, especially during wartime, deserves recognition and gratitude for their military service. These medals recognize that fact. It’s just too bad Gaines can’t disagree with the war and still be proud of his service to his country. Instead, his medals have become a political prop for the left and a personal source of shame.
Hey! At least we have to give him kudos for shipping his real medals to former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and not throwing "ribbons" over a fence in order to claim 20 years down the road, medals on chest, how proud he was to have served in the successful "pacification of Iraq". Nope. 50 years down the road, Gaines can proudly tell his grandchildren he has no medals to show them, because: “I truly feel that I did not defend my nation and I did not help with the Global War on Terrorism”
If only he had a Bronze Star or Silver Star Medal to return back to Rumsfeld. Then he’d really be the political
tool hero of the anti-war movement and Bush-haters and have something else not to show his grandkids.
Ray Robison- Phoniness In and Out of Uniform
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.