Murphy's Law: Decoration Decorum


September 10, 2007: Recently, the British media was all over a story about six military personnel involved in a daring Afghan operation last January. Two British WAH-64 helicopter gunships, with four riflemen strapped to the wings, went behind enemy lines to rescue a wounded marine. The wounded marine turned out to be dead, but his body was lashed to the WAH-64 and everyone flew out they way they flew in. As a result of this, the four WAH-64 crewmen and soldier involved were awarded medals for bravery, but the marines weren't. The three Royal Marines involved seemed unconcerned. And this put the spotlight on a marine tradition followed in both the United States and Britain. In short, the marines are much less likely to give out medals than the army. This was the case during World War II, and in all subsequent actions. However, while the U.S. Marine Corps handed out fewer medals, they got proportionately more of the highest award, the Medal of Honor. To put that in perspective, the U.S. Army awarded one Medal of Honor for every 800 infantrymen killed, while the marines awarded one per 369 dead. Neither the marines nor the army like to talk about the medal disparity. Marines did kid the soldiers for being rather quick with the chest candy, and the American army has cut back a lot, since Vietnam, in the number of medals given.


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