Proposed drone medal scrapped by Defense Department

By: Victoria Maranan Email
By: Victoria Maranan Email

SHERMAN, TX-After much protest from lawmakers and veterans across the United States, the new proposed military medal to honor drone operators was scrapped.

The U.S. Defense Department shot down the production of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which was approved by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in February to honor drone operators and cyber-warriors.

Vietnam Veteran Dom Domingos was thrilled to hear that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cancelled the production of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, honoring drone operators and those involved in cyber warfare.

"I'm very happy the decision was made as it was," he said.

Former Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, approved the now-cancelled medal that would have outranked both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, causing an uproar among veterans and active duty military members. Domingos received both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star in combat.

"I was gonna take my medals that I've worn and displayed proudly for 40+years and my certificate if the decision has gone the other way. I was gonna put them in the bottom drawer of my dresser because I've been diminished," he said.

"It should've never been brought up in the first place. All they do is sit somewhere in a cozy little room and operate off of a pictures or a computer."

Another Vietnam Veteran, Larry Harding, said medals should be reserved for those in the line of fire.

"The medals are for guys on the ground in combat or some where in a situation where they are in harms way. The drone operators, I'm not downgrading what they do, but they're not there doing hand to hand fisticuffs," he said.

Secretary Hagel said servicemen and women who operate drones and take part in cyber warfare are critical to safeguarding the nation. However, instead of a medal, Hagel suggests honoring drone operators with a special pin or device that would be attached to an existing medal or ribbon.

"I think it's a good idea they downplayed it, I don't go along with it, I have strong emotions about it," said Harding.

"I've been for that all along, let's recognize them. But don't give them a medal that's above mine or people who have been in combat," said Domingos."They mean something, and those Medal Of Honor wearers and my fellow comrades who wear the same medals I do are happy today."

The design for the ribbon or device has not been released yet. Secretary Hagel has ordered the criteria for the award be presented to him within 90 days.


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