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New military medal for unmanned aircraft causes controversy

By Michael Hennessey
Published On: Feb 28 2013 05:00:38 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 02 2013 06:53:03 PM CST
MCAS CHERRY POINT, CRAVEN COUNTY- -

A new medal, called the Distinguished Warfare Medal, is stirring up some controversy.

The medal would recognize unmanned drone and unmanned aerial vehicle (or UAV) pilots, as well as others who “directly impact on combat operations, but that do not involve acts of valor or physical risk that combat entails,” said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. It was announced by the Pentagon on February 13th.

The medal would outrank the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Vanceboro resident Hailey Howell said, “That's not right at all, why would they get somethin’ above the Purple Heart if they're not even mainly running the operations it's an unmanned drone."

Captain Edgardo Cardona of Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 at Cherry Point said, "We don't have the capability like some of the other services to, to fly it via satellite far away in another country so we’re, we’re where the fight is."

Joe Bach, a retired Colonel who fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam said, “The pentagon’s just not gonna be able just automatically decide to have another medal, congress will have to do that."

Congressmen Duncan Hunter, Tom Rooney and Tim Murphy, all veterans, filed a bill Wednesday, H.R. 833, which would prohibit the medal from being of equal or greater rank than the Purple Heart. "If the Pentagon will not reconsider the decision to rank this medal above the Purple Heart, the House will take action,” said Murphy.