Spend any time with combat troops who served in Iraq, and invariably the topic of no living Medal of Honor recipient from that conflict comes up.
Four service members received the Medal of Honor – the highest military award of the United States – for heroism in Iraq. All were presented posthumously.
A total of 13 Medals of Honor have been awarded for actions in Afghanistan, with three awarded posthumously. Ten living American service members have received the award for their actions in Afghanistan.
As part of a deliberate review of the awards and decorations policy announced last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter directed the departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force to review all recommendations for service cross awards and Silver Star Medal awards since Sept. 11, 2001.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking person in the military, said he is all in favor of the review. Dunford, who commanded troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said he thinks the policy needs to be reviewed to ensure it is applied consistently and that service members receive the award they earned. He spoke aboard an Air Force jet following a visit to Iraq.
The DoD review will look at about 100 service cross awards and recommendations – the service crosses are the second-highest award for heroism – and about 1,000 awards and recommendations for awards of the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest award.
“I don’t know if any will [be upgraded] or not, but if some are, it’ll be worth it,” Dunford said. “My sense [of] the awards that have been given [is] that there is a good process, but in some cases, a review may indicate that an award be upgraded.”
In other words, a Silver Star may be upgraded to a service cross award, and “when we look at the awards in the context of all the awards we have awarded in the war, we may find some that meet the very high criteria of the Medal of Honor,” Dunford said.
Dunford noted that one service member he recommended for the Medal of Honor did not receive the award. “I recommended [Marine Corps Sgt.] Rafael Peralta,” he said. “I was with the division when he was recommended, and I reviewed that case, and I sat on the board, and I thought that particular case was certainly in the same category as others who received the Medal of Honor.”
If the reaction in social is any indication, service members and veterans seem to be in favor of the review.
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