Rangers recognized for combat actions

  • Thread starter Boondocksaint375
  • Start date


HUNTER ARMY AIR FIELD, Ga. (USASOC News Service, November 6, 2006) – They say they are simply doing their jobs, but many call them heroes -- heroes who are committed to each other but they are dedicated to a higher commitment and that is to the United States of America.

press release said:
“In its purest form that absolute commitment is what we are recognizing here today,” said Brig. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., deputy commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command and presenter of 68 combat awards including two Bronze Star medals for valor, 10 Joint Service Commendation medals for valor, seven Purple Heart medals, 44 Bronze Star medals for service and five Air Medals.

Outstanding work.
I think it's also cool as hell that the public affairs woman putting out the press release for the Rangers was named "Carol Darby."

One question though...
Five Air Medals?
I thought I'd post this from the editorial section of Sunday's paper. It's good that they get the recognition from their peers, because more than likely they won't get it from society at large, which has trended toward lionizing faux heroes in the form of hollywood dilletantes and other assorted media flotsam.

Why Iraq war seems almost devoid of heroes

By E.A. Torriero, a Tribune reporter who has covered conflicts in the Americas, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq
Published November 5, 2006

War breeds heroes. Etched in the history books are tales from the combat trenches of a special kind of valor--gritty and gutsy deeds that have inspired a nation since its earliest days and its first wars.

In our current war, such heroism seems elusive. That style of hero--one that Americans have long come to expect--seems to be missing.

The reasons are varied: The military is often slow to publicize valor and award medals. The national media rarely write about it. As the political debate over the war rages, the term hero has taken on assorted meanings.

The fighting in this war is different from that in any other American conflict. There is no traditional battlefield on which to make a hero's mark. The enemy is not a nation's army but insurgents who often do not show their faces and who strike with bombs and snipers' bullets.

"The enemy has a lot to do with how this war is being fought and the perception it has," said Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C. "That makes it difficult to produce a Custer's Last Stand style of hero."

Although the Pentagon says heroic acts occur almost daily, they are usually known only to the military and to families.

When a GI is killed in Iraq, the military bureaucracy usually says little about the circumstances, citing family privacy, classified intelligence or a need for operational secrecy. The military's medal process is methodical and often takes so many years that the heroism becomes a distant memory by the time it is publicly known.

The U.S. military is stringent in its definition of a hero, drawing sharp distinctions in awarding medals and bestowing the Medal of Honor -- its highest award--only to a GI who "distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty."

When such calm deliberation is abandoned, the result can backfire. Several highly publicized attempts to quickly advertise incidents worked out badly for the Pentagon.

The alleged heroism of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch at the start of the Iraq war proved hollow. The valor of former football star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan was undermined by military lies and the eventual disclosure that he was killed by friendly fire.

Guarded about recognition

Since then, the military has been guarded when it comes to hero stories.

"Heroes are being overlooked," said Roger Lee Crossland, a Navy reserve captain and attorney from Connecticut who served in Afghanistan.

In the U.S. Naval Institute's magazine Proceedings, Crossland wrote an article titled "Why Are Victims Our Only War Heroes?" that is widely circulated on the Internet. He argued that acts of American bravery are being masked by media coverage of troops under attack and military personnel being blown up by street bombs.

"There needs to be another story told, that of bravery in battle," Crossland said in an interview. "Those are heroes, the ones we need to hear about."

In the Iraq war, stories of heroic actions in battle get little exposure in the media. Even when they do, as in the case of the late Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, the stories have a remarkably short staying power.

Smith is the only Iraq war soldier to win the country's highest award for military valor, the Medal of Honor. His valor came in 2003, in the early days of the war, when the battles were fought in more traditional combat.

According to the military, Smith's unit was building a jail holding pen at the Baghdad airport when it came under attack from an Iraqi Republican Guard unit. After a mortar struck one of the American armored vehicles, leaving three of Smith's men injured, the unit was pinned down. Smith jumped to the gunnery and grabbed a machine gun from his injured comrades.

Before being killed by enemy fire, Smith shot 20 to 50 Iraqi soldiers and saved as many as 100 of his comrades, according to the Pentagon.

It took the Pentagon two years to honor Smith. In 2005, he became the first GI since the Somalia conflict in 1993 to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Honoring victims instead

Maybe the media fear glorifying violence, Crossland said.

"We have substituted being a victim for being a hero," he said. "That's far from the meaning of a war hero."

From early mythology, war has produced heroes, soldiers who sacrificed themselves in extraordinary ways to save others.

In recent years, though, the public definition of a hero has become much broader and, some argue, overused. On a wider cultural level, Americans refer to all sorts of people as heroes, no matter the depth of their valor.

"The whole hero phrase has been cheapened," said John Mueller, a political science professor at Ohio State University who has studied war and the military.

The Vietnam War signaled a major transformation in the nation's perception of heroism, according to several experts on American military history.

In an unpopular war, Hollywood painted the bleak picture of combat soldiers returning from Vietnam not as heroes but as outcasts. POWs, however, found a hero's welcome for sacrificing years of their lives as captives and surviving mental and physical torture.

"It's not for what they did on the battlefield," Mueller said of the POWs. "It's for what they endured."

In the Iraq war, families and those honoring American dead often cast them in a heroic light no matter how they died--even if it was sitting in a Humvee that was felled by a roadside bomb.

"Of course they are heroes," said Tony Cutrano, leader of a Chicago-area group of motorcyclists who have erected a memorial wall in central Illinois naming the U.S. dead in Iraq. "They went over there and gave their lives for our freedom. What can be more heroic?"

`This is a brave generation'

Hundreds of other personnel also have performed brave acts, according to the military. "There are a ton of heroes out there," said Marine spokesman Brig. Gen. Robert Milstead, who returned recently from a second tour of duty in Iraq. "They make my eyes water. This is a brave generation."

While military spokesmen offered contradictory views of how well the Pentagon is publicizing its heroes, they agreed that many Americans would rather ignore the war--even the hero stories.

"Americans don't believe we are at war," Milstead said. "Given that mind-set, it's difficult to give fidelity to heroes."

Among support-the-troops groups, a following has developed in cyberspace for American military exploits.

Chicagoan and former military intelligence officer Matthew Currier Burden started such a Web site and also has compiled stories from military personnel in a book titled "The Blog of War." In it, frontline dispatches provide unfiltered details of bravery, he said.

Burden also does a weekly talk show on a Boston radio station with a segment called "Someone You Should Know" that tells stories of war.

"I could tell a story a night and never run out of material," Burden said. "Unfortunately, many of these don't turn out with happy endings, and I think that can be a turnoff for the American public.

"It doesn't make them any less inspiring though."

Thanks for the articles guys, very informative. I'm actually writing a paper along these lines for a history/current affairs class I'm taking. These guys (and in some cases, gals) deserve every bit of recognition they get.