According to the Associated Press, Josh Gaines is giving back his "Iraq War medals." This, says some "Students for a Democratic Society activist" in Madison, who helped organize some protest at which Gaines will formally "mail [his] Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld," "will be a very big deal" to "many Americans."
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."
Here's a minor detail for your consumption (and one which the AP writer, in his utter ignorance of all things military -- typical -- does not have the knowledge to point out): 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.
That's not all, though. According to Mr. Gibbons himself, he "was given an “other than honorable” discharge [from the Army] after failing a drug test." (this fact lit up the room here at the Patrol Base in Iraq with even more derisive laughter, as one of the NCOs sarcastically pointed out that Gaines "sure didn't have an axe to grind for that!")
Further, according to the Associated Press article's quote of a soldier "who served with Gaines in Iraq," he "was always challenging Army superiors."
“[T]hat’s the thing that makes him stand out,” said the source.
And now we arrive at what we might alternately call the "moment of truth," or the "confirmation of Beauchamping." Once again, the Left, in their quest to find soldiers whom they can use to both delegitimize the war and demonize the American soldier, has grabbed a total loser and is flaunting him not only as the rule among his peers, but as an example to be followed.
A pothead who was so poor at his job that he received no award for service in Iraq, and who was kicked out of the Army for drugs. At least John Kerry had awards -- Silver Star, Bronze Star -- to throw back. This publicity hound has nothing.
The Left really thinks that this is what the US military is made of.
The soldiers in the room with me here -- who, in addition to the automatic NDSM and GWOT Expeditionary Medal, will be taking home awards (three Bronze Stars with Valor, one Bronze Star, and one Army Commendation Medal with Valor among the five of them) -- take strong exception to that.
And so do I.
Jeff is currently embedded with the US military on the front lines in Iraq. Click here to view all of his dispatches, updates, and articles from the field.
- At 2:22 AM, said...
"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."
*cough* actually anyone who goes through basic, or AF field training *cough*, gets it.
Yes I am proud of the whole 4 weeks it took.
- At 10:12 AM, said...
Hell, I got the NDSM (the "thank you for coming ribbon" just for getting through Navy boot in '92.
- At 10:28 AM, said...
"Yes I am proud of the whole 4 weeks it took."
Four weeks and a promise. A promise, which if kept means everything to this issue. Thanks for your service.
- At 1:24 PM, said...
Actually, I didn't receive the NDSM until I had been on active duty for more than 13 years. The reason is that the NDSM is not awarded for peacetime service, only wartime service, and that only of so specified by the SecDef's office. (I and pretty much everyone else on active duty at the time got it during Desert Shield/Storm).
The peacetime "glad you came" medal (actually, ribbon only, no medal) for the Army, my service, as the Army Service Ribbon, awarded to every soldier, enlisted or commissioned, who completed, respectively, basic training or the officer basic course.
We also called it the "fireguard award," since it didn't denote accomplishing anything special. For us officers, it wasn't very important, but for brand new enlisted troops it was.
Donald Sensing, USA (ret.)
- At 9:24 PM, said...
In 1970, we got the NDSM for completing Navy bootcamp. We called it the "Gedunk Medal" because getting it was as easy as buying it at the Gedunk (Base Exchange). I received a second one during DS/DS, again, for basically "showing up."
So, while this is hardly the earth-shattering symbol that the AP makes it out to be, I enjoy seeing them, along with the MSM, make utter fools of themselves with these types of stories.
D.L. Sullivan, CAPT, USNR, Ret