Posted on Jun 10, 2015
GySgt Wayne A. Ekblad
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Screen shot 2015 06 10 at 1.08.38 pm
In the waning days of summer 2013, Taliban insurgents launched a spectacular attack on a coalition military base in Afghanistan. A 400-pound car bomb rocked the eastern side of the installation, and about 10 enemy attackers armed with suicide vests, rifles, hand grenades and grenade launchers poured through a shattered wall.

Among those to respond was Staff Sgt. Earl D. Plumlee, a former reconnaissance Marine and Green Beret with the Army’s 1st Special Forces Group. He and some of the other troops who fought to protect Forward Operating Base Ghazni engaged in a fierce firefight with insurgents. Enemy attackers were no more than 20 feet away during portions of the Aug. 28 fight, according to military documents describing the event.

The battle yielded numerous awards for those who fought off the attack. But it is the award that was denied to Plumlee — the Medal of Honor — that has drawn attention on Capitol Hill and from the Defense Department Inspector General’s office.

Plumlee was recommended for the Medal of Honor by the head of a Special Operations task force in Afghanistan, Army Col. Patrick B. Roberson, a decision that was backed by senior generals in the field. Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, then the top U.S. general in Afghanistan and since nominated to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described Plumlee’s actions as “truly extraordinary.”

But Plumlee ultimately received the Silver Star — considered two levels below the Medal of Honor — in a May 1 ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. As he was being considered for the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) launched an investigation into whether Plumlee illegally tried to sell a rifle scope online. The investigation yielded no charges, but the Army’s denial has prompted allegations that service leaders only want squeaky-clean soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/06/09/the-army-denied-a-medal-of-honor-to-this-green-beret-war-hero-what-happened/?hpid=z4
Edited 8 y ago
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MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
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The actions of that day should have quashed anything else. Investigated but not charged for selling a scope - seriously, that halted a MOH? Why the drop to a Silver Star and not a DSC? No one is perfect but this sounds like someone was on a mission.

If they applied the same logic to politicians and their paychecks, hmm...
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SSG Military Police
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I have worked in support of some of our "shadow warriors' some of these guys would not be able to pass a background check to purchase a shotgun .. but I would not want any one else by my side in a fire fight.. these guys are heroes.. they save lives.. they save, in some cases, Countries
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SGM Senior Adviser, National Communications
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Come now, soldiers--it's not a contest with prizes. On the one hand, when we are looking for heroes for propaganda value, we will find them. When we are not looking, our standards will be tighter. Certainly, from what we read he may well deserve a MOH. Yet we haven't read details of the very extensive investigation that goes on, including eyewitnesses and chain of command. And yes, perhaps standards of conduct and the idea of character kick in; or are misapplied.
Recall that Audie Murphy and many others did a lot of consistently heroic things that led up to a MOH, in fact, that is a pattern in many cases in WWII...not just a specific act; that pattern simply made the final act more credible in that context of war.
Yes, from our history we see different standards applied at different times--some of which are later reversed--awards granted retroactively, awards revoked. Often because of a new "attitude" about "other factors" (race/religion)= hence discretion.
I've sat on awards boards where some officials were so intent on denying awards you could not help but note that their negative vote tended to be mainly for awards they did not have. Yet I have never seen a board that was otherwise sloppy. And I have seen intense media pressure to grant awards that to other soldiers seemed completely inappropriate.
So awards boards and approving officials do have some discretion whether we like it or not--whether they like YOU or not.
I've been involved in investigations about why one soldier deployed to Desert Storm and actually exposed to SCUD was not awarded a bronze star when almost every other soldier in his unit was decorated; it boiled down the the CGs discretion despite recommendations. I have been recommended for awards that were similarly downgraded; it was nice to be recommended.
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1LT William Clardy
1LT William Clardy
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SGM (Join to see), I recall a recent ceremony retroactively awarding Medals of Honor to nominees who had apparently had their nomination downgraded based upon "other factors". Are you endorsing the notion that some other factors *should* be considered besides the act itself?

Should we revoke Audie Murphy's MoH based upon his post-war drug addiction and allegations that he threatened his wife with a gun?
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1LT William Clardy
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To those who think that awards for valor should be tempered by considerations of how well the recipient will present himself to the public, could somebody please point out any citations for bravery which included an annotation that the nominee has no pending criminal investigations and has always been a model of civic-minded probity?
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SGM Senior Adviser, National Communications
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1LT Clardy, just FYI, we do records checks to ensure soldiers are eligible for awards based on current investigations, convictions, and even casualty checks. Unproven derogatory information should never be used, however most humans are influenced by it, even in this forum where some people, without any facts, assume that is the case here.
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1LT William Clardy
1LT William Clardy
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I am not surprised, SGM (Join to see), but I still think that even proven derogatory information should not influence the decision regarding what medal a given act of valor will be rewarded with.

Also, I will grant that there could be other factors at play in this instance which might be relevant -- e.g., if SFC Plumlee's weapon failure was due to poor rifle maintenance, or if his conduct interfered with a counter-attack, those would be legitimate (in my opinion) reasons for the downgrade.

But overall, I'm sticking to my argument that the award decision should be based solely upon the valorous act itself, not on tangential issues.
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