An article published in USA Today May 16, 2015 discusses medals secretly awarded to Navy SEALs and a Marine. -Editor
Citations for two Navy Crosses and more than 100 Silver Star medals awarded secretly to Navy SEALs and a Marine for “extraordinary heroism”
in the last 15 years reflect the fierce battles that have been fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to records obtained by USA TODAY.
The Navy decorated the Marine for saving the lives of civilians in Benghazi in September 2012. Several SEALs earned theirs for intense
combat in Ramadi, others for rescuing hostages in Afghanistan. The Navy also honored the deadly efficiency of the “American Sniper,” the
late SEAL Chris Kyle.
Almost one in five of the military's most prestigious honors in all the services have been awarded privately since America went to war
in 2001 because the missions were classified. The Medal of Honor is the highest commendation, followed by service crosses and the Silver
Star. In February, the Pentagon announced plans to review more than 1,000 of the nation's top awards bestowed since 9/11 to determine if
they should be upgraded. The secret Navy Crosses and Silver Stars are among those under review, along with a similar number issued for the
Army's classified commando missions
"Awards and medals have a sacred role in military culture," said Brad Carson, the Pentagon's former civilian chief for
personnel who advocated for the review. "They are a small ribbon symbolizing enormous sacrifice. It is important that we recognize
service members for their heroism. And after 15 years of war, it is appropriate to review awards to make sure we applied the criteria
correctly and uniformly. That's especially true when so many missions were necessarily classified and awards given quietly. That's
why we pushed this review. It is about keeping faith with the troops."
The citations that accompanied the two Navy Cross and 112 Silver Star medals begin as form letters under letterhead from the Secretary
of the Navy.
Next, in less than a page, come astounding feats of bravery, selflessness and will.
Two Navy Crosses, second only to the Medal of Honor, are among the Navy documents. The first, on Aug. 9, 2009, a Navy SEAL, his name
blacked out like others in the report, was leading a small unit when their base came “under an intense coordinated attack” in Afghanistan.
A sniper wounded the unit's medic, and the SEAL braved direct gunfire to drag the man to safety.
At the same time, a rocket-propelled grenade smashed through the wall of the unit's arsenal, sparking a major fire. “With a catastrophic
explosion imminent,” the SEAL evacuated the base. He then ran repeatedly into the arsenal to haul out crates of explosives to uncover the
“smoldering and undetonated warhead, which he removed with his bare hands.” He left the compound, making several trips to dump explosives
in a nearby river, all the while being shot at.
Missing from the citations is any mention of SEAL Team 6 and its mission into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. President
Obama did provide the commandos with the Presidential Unit Citation, the highest honor for a military unit. The Navy did not rule out the
possibility that individual medals were awarded.
To read the complete article, see:
secret medals reveal heroism during past 15 years
Wayne Homren, Editor
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