Saturday, February 07, 2004

John Kerry's Silver Star

I haven't paid much attention to the circumstances surrounding the action that earned John Kerry his Silver Star for gallantry, since the salient fact to my mind is that, after serving with honor, he came home and stabbed his buddies in the back. But this post over at PowerLine piqued my curiosity:
In Mar '68, a lone VC fired an RPG at that Prick's boat, resulting in another miss. One of the crewmen answered this with about 50 rounds from a twin-mount 50 cal MG, wounding the VC, who jumped out of sight. That Prick beached the boat (dumb dumb dumb) where the VC had been, jumped ashore, found the wounded VC, killed him, and returned to the boat with the offending RPG launcher. For this "action," an infantry PFC wouldn't have gotten so much as a pat on the back, but that Prick ended up with a Silver Star!
Aside from some surprise that none of the usual suspects has started whining about the shooting of the wounded man, it does sound a little light on the "marked distinction" required. But it is the 3rd highest award so I wasn't expecting an Audie Murphy story. And like most things in life, the awarding of medals isn't always "fair," and sometimes the folks from prominent Boston families make out better than the rest of us.

But I was sufficiently curious to do a little Googling of other Silver Star recipients (there doesn't seem to be an archive of all of the citations). Here's one awarded posthumously for WWII to Paul Henry Carr, Gunner's Mate Third Class, United States Naval Reserve:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Gun Captain of a 5"/38 Mount on the USS Samuel B. ROBERTS, in action against enemy Japanese forces off Samar Island during the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, October 25, 1944. With the power of the rammer lost and mechanical failures in the ammunition hoist, CARR manned his station steadfastly in the face of continuous close-range fire of enemy guns during an attack by a numerically superior Japanese surface force on the Samuel B. Roberts. By his outstanding technical skill and courageous initiative, CARR was instrumental in causing rapid and heavy fire from the gun to inflict damage upon an enemy heavy cruiser. Although mortally wounded by the premature detonation of a powder charge, fired by hand, CARR tried unassisted to load and ram the only projectile available to that mount after order to abandon ship had been given. His aggressive determination of duty reflected the highest credit upon CARR and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."
And here's some for Vietnam (scroll down). I'll quote the one to Staff Sergeant Billy J. Brickey, United States Marine Corps:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Squad Leader with Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 22 July 1966, Staff Sergeant BRICKEY's squad was serving as point for a company column, moving down a wide streambed, when the point fire team was ambushed at close range from enemy positions along the steep banks of the streambed.

The fire team immediately sustained several casualties and was pinned down by heavy and accurate enemy automatic rifle fire. Maneuvering his remaining teams into positions to neutralize the enemy fire, Staff Sergeant BRICKEY left his place of relative safety to render aid to the wounded Marines. Continually and with complete disregard for his own safety, he crossed the exposed area under withering enemy fire to carry the wounded to safety.

During one of his rescue attempts, Staff Sergeant BRICKEY was wounded by enemy fire and suffered wounds in his right arm and hand. Selflessly, he continued to direct fire on the enemy and to care for the wounded until they had all been moved to a safe position. After routing the enemy, Staff Sergeant BRICKEY directed the remainder of his squad in clearing a zone for the medical evacuation helicopter.

His outstanding leadership and compassion for his fellow Marines inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in saving the lives of several of his companions. By his extraordinary courage, bold initiative, and selfless devotion to duty, Staff Sergeant BRICKEY upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
They do seem to be of a different caliber. But lest you think that Kerry's is exceptional, take a gander at this one awarded to Lyndon Baines Johnson:
"For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Port Moresby and Salamaua, New Guinea on June 9, 1942. While on a mission of obtaining information in the Southwest Pacific area, Lieutenant Commander Johnson, in order to obtain personal knowledge of combat conditions, volunteered as an observer on a hazardous aerial combat mission over hostile positions in New Guinea. As our planes neared the target area they were intercepted by eight hostile fighters. When, at this time, the plane in which Lieutenant Commander Johnson was an observer, developed mechanical trouble and was forced to turn back alone, presenting a favorable target to the enemy fighters, he evidenced marked coolness in spite of the hazards involved. His gallant action enabled him to obtain and return with valuable information."
I believe this translates as "he was an observer in a plane in a combat zone." Hmmm, maybe being well connected does help.