Distinguished Warfare Medal


VetLikeMe is dedicated solely to service disabled veteran owned business. I am also passionate about disabled veterans, their challenges and rewards. Since the Distinguished Warfare Medal is under scrutiny by most every VSO and Purple Heart recipient, it seems natural that I put my two cents in. My opinion does not necessarily reflect those of our sponsors.

I was a ‘Cold Warrior.’ In other words, I served in the U.S. Army right after Vietnam but before the collapse of the Soviet Union. As an infantryman, I thought the Purple Heart was the most honorable decoration, one that meant valor, guts, courage under fire and the willingness to sacrifice everything for country and unit. And because most recipients expect nothing in return for their demonstrations of ultimate allegiance, I looked at the Purple Heart with jaw-dropping awe.

Sandwiched between Vietnam and the first Gulf War, I never experienced the true horror of the battlefield, the personal devastation, the loss of fellow soldiers. I was lucky I missed out, and though we train for battle and welcome it, to escape it is a blessing. Vietnam vets agree, as do veterans of all foreign wars. There is nothing quite like the sweat, the fear, the nerves, the tension and the guilt of battle I’m sure.

The official description of the controversial medal :

The Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) is a United States military decoration announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on February 13, 2013. It is the first American combat-related award to be created since the Bronze Star Medal in 1944. The new blue, red and white-ribboned medal will be awarded to individuals for “extraordinary achievement” related to a military operation occurring after September 11, 2001. It is intended to recognize military achievement in cyberwarfare or combat drone operations for actions that do not include valor in combat.

Digging further, the citation includes language of “remote activity” in warfare, a far cry from the screaming of incoming 500 pound shells or 50 caliber rounds whizzing by. Sitting at a computer monitor and fighting a battle via digital signals is the wave of the future of battles and forward combat operations. Getting soldiers away from hot metal and flesh-tearing explosions is what we all wish for, and one that should be recognized as heroic.

But it’s not nearly as heroic as the Purple Heart of the Bronze Star. DWM would take priority over these citations of valor and rest just beneath the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Veterans Groups and Purple Heart recipients are not happy. Eugene Ogozalek put it this way :

“DWM diminishes the ultimate sacrifices of those who did not survive to hold the sacred Purple Heart Medal in their hands. What valor, what sacrifice, what courage has one displayed in the Distinguished Warfare Medal?”

E.M. Ogozalek : India Co., 3rd Bn / 4th Marines / 3rd MARDIV , Vietnam 67’-68’ : MOS 0311, Combat Wounded, Purple Heart Recipient


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Hardy Stone is the editor/publisher of VetLikeMe, the nation's only publication devoted to service disabled veteran owned business.