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August 25, 2004

Kerry's Silver Star, Medal Inflation--Qando Military Experts' Observations

Qando has a very interesting discussion of the Silver Star action. Points to note:

1. Someone with military experience says that the Silver Star was undeserved because this was routine, not exceptional fighting.

2. Someone with military experience says that it has long been noted that Admiral Zumwalt was generous with medals, to keep up morale.

3. Someone with military experience says that the Silver Star was awarded for Kerry being in charge of the entire day's operation, with the killing of the Viet Cong soldier was a minor, or maybe even a negative, part (negative as being a stupid move, endangering his boat).

4. Why didn't Kerry's boat stay in the water and kill the Viet Cong with the rocket launcher using its heavy machine guns, instead of beaching (so the machine guns were out of action) and having one sailor chase him?

5. Having beached his boat and run out, Kerry left it pretty much defenseless against the Viet Cong. It couldn't move or use its machine guns. If there had been more Viet Cong in the bushes, he would have lost his boat and crew.

Here is one of the many good parts of the post:
Sometimes being in the right place at the right time has benefits.

What many commanders have done in many wars is use commendation as "impact awards". That is, he wants the award to make an impact on the unit, to stress this is the sort of results he wants, to reward those who were successful. Obviously there's the possibility that the desire to give those "impact awards" may see some, upon review, believe they just didn't rise to the level of that award. I think that's the case for many who view this now.

But then, it had a purpose, which is why it was pushed through so hurridly and awarded by Zumwaldt himself.

Look, it seems rather silly to dispute whether its deserved or not when his chain of command obviously thought it was at the time. Whether it rises to the level we expect for a Silver Star is debatable, but the bottom line is, it was awarded, not by John Kerry, but by his chain of command. And all indications are the reason was to "impact" the command, get them riled up, get them on board with the program of taking the rivers away from the VC.

(See my Kerry in Vietnam archives for more posts)

Posted by erasmuse at August 25, 2004 01:54 PM

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