Sunday: Opposition Mounts To So-Called 'Drone Medal'
The Pentagon's plans to award the pilots of drone aircraft with medals is drawing fire from veterans across the country.
By and large, the veterans don't oppose the medal - known officially as the "Distinguished Warfare Medal."
They strenuously oppose the medal being ranked higher than traditional combat medals like the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, given that those medals are earned by men and women in harm's way, and the drone medal will be awarded to pilots who are often thousands of miles from the actual combat.
Dan Francis of Watertown is one of the veterans shaking his head over the ranking of the new medal. Francis has three Purple Hearts from being wounded in combat three times in Vietnam.
"When I first read about it, my first reaction was this has got to be a silly idea. I thought I was reading a "Duffel Bag" or "Onion" article," Francis said.
(The "Duffel Bag" and "Onion" are satirical web sites.)
Like other veterans, Francis acknowledges the work of the drone pilots.
"They're doing a very important job, in many cases, as we know from following the news of what drone pilots do," he said.
"But it's not the same as the infantryman or woman, medic or a pilot or a gunship commander. It's just really not the same."
A petition to reduce the standing of the medal on the White House web site has gained about 16,000 signatures, and a group of veterans in the House of Representatives are proposing legislation to do the same thing.
(Read more on why veterans are upset by the 'Drone Medal' here.)
Wednesday, June 19, 2013, Watertown, NY