Sunday, September 23, 2007

Petraeus and Chest Gedunk

Gedunk is a Navy term for junk food. Candy, chips, and pretty ribbons bought at the ship's store is called gedunk.

That's what Petraeus wears on his chest -- Gedunk.

He does have a Bronze Star. He got it when he was a 2-star general. Trust me on this one, if a senior officer engages in an act of individual heroism he gets a silver star at a minimum. Bronze stars are for enlisted men who charge machine guns, for junior officers who engage in man-to-man combat without running, and senior officers who serve in a combat zone and don't have a hero medal yet.

That's just the way it works.

I don't know if it's true or not, but I was told that the ship I served in VN was the most decorated destroyer in VN at the time. I doubt that's true however.

What is true is that decorations where given out in almost perfect rank order. The ships captian got a bronze star. E3's and E4's got letters of commendation (I was not what you'd call a good sailor, I didn't get one). In between the jr. officers and sr. enlisted singled out for awards got Navy Acheivement medals. That's the way it goes.

Our captian did nothing personally heroic, nobody did, but the ship did a good job and he was in command and it was his turn so he got a Bronze Star. It had a V attached because the command did see active combat, he was in a shooting war.

The point is, when a two-star general gets a bronze star it doesn't mean much at all. In fact it means less than not much, it means he didn't really do anything heroic at all. When a Navy Lt. gets a bronze star it means he actually stuck his neck out and put himself personally in harms way. If you run across someone who got a Bronze Star as an E4 then he's probably an Audie Murphy reincarnation.

Petraeus has a chest covered with gedunk, not actual combat awards for heroism. That's the truth.

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2 Comments:

Blogger D. L. Bailey said...

Gary,

I thank you for your service to the nation in the Navy.

What you may not know is that the Navy, because it fights at "long standoff" and nobody dares to shoot at our ships any more, has a different standard for awarding the Bronze Star for Valor. But it is always awarded for participation in combat.

The Army expects that participation to be very direct indeed, always, always under risk of life and serious injury from enemy fire.

As you know, Admiral Boorda killed himself when his wearing of a valor medal was brought into question. It is a serious thing.

It is particularly serious when a person who makes a claim of valor uses that claim for propaganda. And when the claim is untrue, this is an outrage.

The medal in question is not the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, but the "Valor Device" which indicates combat heroism.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

thanks for the explanation

Yes, I know the Navy has different standards.

My point was mostly that the Army has different standards for two star generals. In that case just being near active combat is enough.

7:57 AM  

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