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Drone Medal


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I guess the powers that be DO occassionally listen to the outrage created by their dumb decisions. It seems Chuck Hagel has decided to scrap plans for the "Drone Medal". It just didn't pass the smell test and he had to back down after hearing all the displeasure expressed by all of us. (:

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Cheers all around! I don't doubt that they might need some kind of recognition. But give me a break. They're doing a job just like the crew chiefs, munitions people, etc. All contributing to the war effort. Why not an Achievement Medal or Commendation Medal? Maybe that wouldn't look as good on the Officer Mess Dress as a "drone metal."

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Cheers all around! I don't doubt that they might need some kind of recognition. But give me a break. They're doing a job just like the crew chiefs, munitions people, etc. All contributing to the war effort. Why not an Achievement Medal or Commendation Medal? Maybe that wouldn't look as good on the Officer Mess Dress as a "drone metal."

SEFEGeorge,

I don't know what the Crew Chiefs of today do but I flew with my plane all over VN and flew the the Blind Bat missions out of Thailand in '67-'68. I believe that is a little different than the way you describe it, "They're doing a job just like the crew chiefs, munitions people, etc. All contributing to the war effort".

I too agree they need some kind of recognition but it is where it ranks in relation to other awards and decorations.

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I guess the next thing the drone operators will apply for is VA benifits and disability for carpel tunnel on their joystick hand.

As a crew chief, we flew many of the missions in SW and Central Asia until about 2004. After that, unless the plane was gone several days we did not go with it much.

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SEFEGeorge,

I don't know what the Crew Chiefs of today do but I flew with my plane all over VN and flew the the Blind Bat missions out of Thailand in '67-'68. I believe that is a little different than the way you describe it, "They're doing a job just like the crew chiefs, munitions people, etc. All contributing to the war effort".

I too agree they need some kind of recognition but it is where it ranks in relation to other awards and decorations.

I think you misunderstood. They're just doing the job they're in. Just like mechanics fixing the birds, K-loader drivers, inflight kitchen people, crew bus drivers, etc. Actually flying on a mission, in harms way, is a totally different story. Flying a drone is not much different than a teenager playing on his X-Box or a missile crew launching an ICBM.

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That these guys save lives day in and day out is not the argument. That their ability to significantly impact the battlefield is not the question. I think, for most, what rubbed raw the most, was that this proposed medal would be of superior ranking than traditional battlefield medals. The stresses these guys are under are not the same, but they are also not the same as the finance officer sitting in a cubicle in Offut. They see first-hand the effects of weapons either at their disposal, directed by them, or simply monitored by them after others do the dirty work. This is a real stress and one that is difficult to quantify. In the theater of operations, you have, at least, a couple of days to decompress after a challenging situation. These guys go straight home to mom and little Johnny. That has got to present some unique psychological challenges.

All that said, if the ISR world didn't think they received enough recognition, or the current medals didn't do justice to their job, I don't have a huge beef with creating a new medal, but I think it far more reasonable to simply expound on the criteria for the various current medals to give them appropriate recognition. If a new medal was indeed warranted, its placement in the hierarchy would always be contentious...

...just like giving missleers flight jackets or Cheyenne Mountain folks flight suits.

The culture change is never done without waves or hurt feelings, but it needs to make sense. I'm glad Hagel has put this on hold for now.

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These guys go straight home to mom and little Johnny. That has got to present some unique psychological challenges.

Yeah, they get to leave their air-conditioned trailers, drive home in their air-conditioned vehicles, take a hot shower, veg out in front of the TV in their air-conditioned homes with some beers, with their wife and kids, and then get to sleep next to their wives at night. Yeah, some pretty harsh psychological challenges.

...just like giving missleers flight jackets or Cheyenne Mountain folks flight suits.

or flight jackets to SPs.

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Now George you know those SP's really look spiffy in those flt jackets ha ha .

Ok, story I've told before but. Stationed at Wright-Patterson, 2750th Logistics Sqd, SSgt at time, CC on VC-118As, then began flying as a FM, A43171A, VC-118As then they moved me to flying VT-29B/C/D. Flying passenger runs we wore our blue slacks and light blue shirts, and flight jackets. Kitty Hawk run every morning at 6:30am to Andrews and back. Stopped by BX on way home. A young A1C SP wearing a flight jacket came up to me and asked why I was wearing a SP jacket. Being amused I chuckled a little and asked his to check the tag inside the pocket - Jacket, flying, light weight. I opened my jacket and showed him my wings. Then I asked him where were his wings. Got the "deer in the headlights" look as I walked away shaking my head.

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Yeah, they get to leave their air-conditioned trailers, drive home in their air-conditioned vehicles, take a hot shower, veg out in front of the TV in their air-conditioned homes with some beers, with their wife and kids, and then get to sleep next to their wives at night. Yeah, some pretty harsh psychological challenges.

.

After following some dude & his family for days, then getting the authorization to blow him up in his car with his family, doing it and seeing the body parts fly, knowing the carnage you just inflicted, then driving straight home to mom and little Johnny in his air conditioned car -- Yeah, real easy. You'd have to be borderline sociopathathic to not have some psychological issues here.

The difference on the front, where the blood and gore is in your fact and not on a TV screen is that there is some time to decompress. There is some time to separate yourself from the situation. There is time to talk with your buddies about it. Then you go home. Rarely immediately, often months later. Time heals all wounds. "Decompress" is the current buzzword, but it's really about time and compartmentalizing things.

I'm not saying either one is the same as the other, or that one is more difficult than the other, simply stating that taking another life is a traumatic event for most people. Seeing human carnage is a traumatic event for most people. Being responsible for taking the life and causing the carnage is a traumatic event. It absolutely does change things as to your location (face-to-face vs 5,000 miles away in a trailer), but it doesn't make it go away and it doesn't make it any less real. This is what makes the drone driver different from the finance officer in his cubicle stateside.

Here's something most of us can relate to; aircraft crashes. Most, if not nearly all, of us know folks who died in crashes. I promise you it's different if you saw them that afternoon vs you hadn't seen them in years. One is an immediate sense of grief and loss, the other is a somber remembrance of a friend. Proximity and time have a lot to do with the psychology of traumatic events. It's a similar construct with drone guys vs battlefield warriors.

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US Herk, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this. But taking this a little further. How about the crew that loaded the first A-bomb on the Enola Gay? Of the people of the Manhattan Project? Comparisons could go on and on. Higher ranking medals like the Purple Heart, etc., should be solely awarded to those who actions were in direct, life-in-danger, situations. Give these quasi-pilots a Commendation Medal, but only for specific events, not just because they "flew" drones.

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The medal was dumb, glad they flushed it before it hit the street. Almost as dumb as those stupid "space wings" you see some folks wearing. They looks sorta like something Buzz Lightyear might wear. Have you seen those things? Ridiculous. Here's a pic in case anyone's interested (but I don't know why you would):[ATTACH=CONFIG]3393[/ATTACH]

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The Air Force already has the Acheivement Medal given for specific acts of "acheivement". Maybe, like the ACES (5 air to air kills = ACE) of old, the drone operator could get an Acheivement Medal for individual acts with 5 (or some number) of acheivement medals equaling a Commendation Medal (or Drone medal or whatever). Just sayin

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Hmmmm. anyone remember that fighter sorties counted as "missions" for such things as air medals, but trash hauling was counted differently,,,,,,,,,, you could do four or five sorties a day, but they were under one mission ID, so it only counted as one mission, sometimes even more than one day................. I was permanently awarded my wings in light of having flown ten combat missions, but was told air medals were determined differently................ The UAV wings look like they came out of a cereal box.

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The medal was dumb, glad they flushed it before it hit the street. Almost as dumb as those stupid "space wings" you see some folks wearing. They looks sorta like something Buzz Lightyear might wear. Have you seen those things? Ridiculous. Here's a pic in case anyone's interested (but I don't know why you would):[ATTACH=CONFIG]3393[/ATTACH]

Those things are just butt-ugly. Looks like some kid bent a piece of trailer park aluminum siding.

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Useing the above logic, PTSD would qualify the individual for the Purple Heart Award.

I see your logic. I'm ambivalent on that issue. That would be up to the Purple Heart review board.

US Herk, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this. But taking this a little further. How about the crew that loaded the first A-bomb on the Enola Gay? Of the people of the Manhattan Project? Comparisons could go on and on. Higher ranking medals like the Purple Heart, etc., should be solely awarded to those who actions were in direct, life-in-danger, situations. Give these quasi-pilots a Commendation Medal, but only for specific events, not just because they "flew" drones.

The Enola Gay ground crew and Manhattan projects are not valid comparisons. They are not watching it happen when it happens, they are not witnessing the carnage with their own eyes, they are not part of the "kill chain", they do not "push the button".

Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree as you can't seem to understand the distinction I'm making. I apologize, for I fear it is that I've simply failed to explain it well enough...

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I see your logic. I'm ambivalent on that issue. That would be up to the Purple Heart review board.

The Enola Gay ground crew and Manhattan projects are not valid comparisons. They are not watching it happen when it happens, they are not witnessing the carnage with their own eyes, they are not part of the "kill chain", they do not "push the button".

Perhaps we will have to agree to disagree as you can't seem to understand the distinction I'm making. I apologize, for I fear it is that I've simply failed to explain it well enough...

US Herk, I understand what you're saying I just don't agree with it. Didn't the B-2 crews fly long missions from the U.S. to the Middle east to do bombing runs during Gulf 1 and then flew back to the U.S? Or something like that. I just don't think that watching things evolve on a TV screen rise to the level of psychological levels you're saying. Don't the drone pilots have Reliability evaluations like regular pilots or whatever it was I seem to recall?

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US Herk, I understand what you're saying I just don't agree with it. Didn't the B-2 crews fly long missions from the U.S. to the Middle east to do bombing runs during Gulf 1 and then flew back to the U.S? Or something like that. I just don't think that watching things evolve on a TV screen rise to the level of psychological levels you're saying. Don't the drone pilots have Reliability evaluations like regular pilots or whatever it was I seem to recall?
But the B2 guys don't actually see body parts flying. They drop their bombs from the safety of altitude and never actually see the carnage they wreak. On the IR, you can actually see the heat leaving the body, especially with massive blood loss. That's death personified. The drone guy may have watched this guy for weeks or even months before "pulling the trigger".

Maybe watching it all happen live on a TV screen is no big deal. Can you say it doesn't affect them, because I sure can't.

The part you seem to be missing US HERK is that the drone operator has no chance of being killed wile working. Its not that you havent explaned it very well. We just have a different point of view.

I don't miss that point at all. That's why I said in my first post that he DOES go home to mama and the kids and why his medal does NOT, in my opinion, not necessarily deserve to be above battlefield medals. But I don't think his mission warrants the seeming ridicule that is heaped on it, like he's playing nintendo in a trailer somewhere - there's a lot more to it and very much a mental angle here that is far, far different than the finance officer in his cubicle. Something I don't know if most of us can appreciate very well.

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"But the B2 guys don't actually see body parts flying. They drop their bombs from the safety of altitude and never actually see the carnage they wreak. On the IR, you can actually see the heat leaving the body, especially with massive blood loss. That's death personified. The drone guy may have watched this guy for weeks or even months before "pulling the trigger".

"Maybe watching it all happen live on a TV screen is no big deal. Can you say it doesn't affect them, because I sure can't."

But the B 52 guys were low enough to be shot down by SAMS.

Some of them did and many were taken prisnor.

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Giz, I recall that it took 20 combat missions for one air medal, but 35 combat support missions for one air medal.

Yeah, Check-set, I think I recall that, too. It was the comparison of what is a sortie and what is a mission that my old awrds and decs offcier always bitched about.............He compared it for us going to Pope and droppin' troops for two or three days, makin' maybe three or four drops a day, under one mission number.... He flet that the fighter guys would go out drop their eggs, come back re-arm and go again and that would be two missions...........small point, I know.

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