Defense Secretary Hagel opts to rethink drone medal
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
This image released by the Department of Defense shows the obverse view with ribbon of the newly announced Distinguished Warefare Medal.
Share with others:
WASHINGTON -- A military medal that would have honored contributions of drone pilots is now on hold.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel halted production of the Distinguished Warfare Medal on Tuesday, saying it warranted another look after lawmakers, veterans organizations and others complained that the medal was ranked above the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, typically awarded for heroism on the front lines of battle.
The secretary, who received two Purple Hearts for injuries in the Vietnam War, heard the concerns and believes it is prudent to take them into account, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Tuesday.
"The secretary will work with the senior leadership to review the order of precedence and associated matters," he said.
Mr. Little said Mr. Hagel "is a decisive leader but also a listener" who wants more input on the medal.
The reconsideration is a reversal for the secretary, who just days ago told Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that he stood by the ranking of the medal.
"It recognizes a specific type of contribution that is vital to the defense of our nation. It in no way degrades or minimizes our nation's other important awards or the tremendous sacrifices of our men and women who earn these prestigious recognitions," Mr. Hagel had written to Mr. Toomey, who was among several lawmakers who had expressed concern over the ranking of the warfare medal.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, also has opposed the ranking. He is among the sponsors of a House bill to ensure the Purple Heart is ranked higher than the warfare medal.
Mr. Murphy said Tuesday that he is glad the secretary is reviewing the ranking.
"It's important to recognize those who are doing things like flying drone planes but it's just not at the same level as someone who is in combat," the congressman said.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-York, agreed.
"Being away from your family in proximity to danger is different than being 7,000 miles away" controlling a drone, said Mr. Perry, an Iraq War veteran.
First Published March 13, 2013 12:00 am