On the Medal of Honor in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Joe ‘Ragman’ Tarnovsky

It has been a point of contention that no living military personnel have been awarded the Medal of Honor in Iraq and Afghanistan since our Nation has sent these brave men and women into battle in those two wars. It is hard for me to believe, being a Vietnam Combat Veteran, that in Afghanistan and Iraq there is not a living soldier, sailor, marine or airman deserving of the military’s top award for valor. Since America has been at war in these two countries only six Medals of Honor have been awarded to our troops which have all been bestowed upon the recipient posthumously. Of these six recipients, three of these men jumped on live hand grenades to save the lives of their buddies that were in the immediate area.

For whatever reason the Pentagon and others that have failed to honor a living recipient that deserves the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is now a living soldier that has been recommended for that award but his name is not being released until a final decision has been made in regards to him getting the medal or not. The Pentagon stated this man saved the lives of a half a dozen men by running through a hail of enemy fire to engage the Taliban that were attacking his squad. This military action took place in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan in the fall of 2007.

If this man did what the Pentagon claims then he certainly deserves our Nation’s highest award for bravery, the Medal of Honor, and I think our society should demand that military officials go back and take another look at those individuals that received our Nation’s second highest award for heroism, the Navy Cross, Air Force Cross or the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross to see if some of these people were shortchanged from receiving the Medal of Honor because of personal or petty politics. It happens all the time with awards for gallantry in the military, google General Chesty Puller and you’ll read about a United States Marine that was awarded five Navy Crosses and one Army Distinguished Service Cross for intrepidness; however, the Medal of Honor was never bestowed upon this military hero and icon because some allege top Army officials and even President Eisenhower were upset about the disparaging comments Chesty Puller made about some Army units he thought did not fight admirably during the escape from the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.
Let’s hope that the Medal of Honor will be awarded to this mystery man and the military will take a second look at those awarded the Nation’s second highest award to see if anyone of them deserves the top award for daring under enemy fire. Our volunteer military should be given every consideration available because if it were not for them, we would see a mass of protests if the draft was ever reinstated and a flashback to the war protesters of the Vietnam War. War protester is really a misnomer for many carrying signs and burning their draft cards who were haranguing us with their pious rants and raves about being anti-war, when if fact, they were really protesting the draft and the very idea that they would have to put their country ahead of their own self-interests. I have not seen those draft protesters around since the Vietnam War, have you?


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