Re-Post: Is it Time for a Cold War Victory Medal?


The good folks over at B5 link to a Wall Street Journal article that makes some damned good points.  So I have re-posted something I wrote from April of 2010:

A Cold War Victory Medal.

The idea is not a new one, in fact, and has been debated often in both the House and the Senate.   There are pros and cons to the issue.  Some, myself included, think we have too many ribbons and medals.  Such items as the GWOTSM and various specific duty ribbons don’t seem quite right to me, especially on a Marine uniform.  Other awards have far more meaning.  Gravitas, if you will.   So my natural tendency would lean away from yet another medal/ribbon/award.  (Lord knows the teasing that National Guard folks get about the “Good Posture Medal” and “Perfect Attendance Ribbon”.)

Yet, as the end of the Cold War nears two decades distant, like a person stepping away from a massive structure whose grandeur is lost in the visible details, the immense and dangerous efforts and exertions of our service men and women during the Cold War comes more clearly into proper perspective. Those efforts, nearly incomprehensible today,  seem appropriate for some form of special recognition.  The Cold War involved all of the aspects of a hot one, with the overarching understanding that failure of the efforts of both deterrence and readiness would lead to annihilation on a scale unknown in man’s history.

Beginning in the Summer of 1945, and lasting until the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Cold War was a constant and exhaustive effort, requiring large amounts of forces, materiel, and deployments, even during times of open war in other places.  USAF F-86 Sabre jets were not initially deployed to the Korean peninsula as it was feared that a weakening of US continental air defenses would provide the Soviets with opportunities for a nuclear strike.   Despite the demands for US Navy presence off the coast of Vietnam, the US 6th Fleet maintained an extremely powerful presence in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

The crews of strategic bombers, missile silos, Navy ships and at sea, Marine Corps and Army forces forward deployed or rapid deployment echelons, lived lives of constant vigilance, uncertainty, and seemingly endless drills and preparations to maintain razor-sharp skills.

Those whose jobs were active surveillance of Soviet and Soviet Bloc hostile nations played a very dangerous game with an unremitting enemy.  The shooting down of Deep Sea 129 (highlighted by SteelJaw’s excellent post), loss of USS Scorpion (SSN-589), capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2), and many other hostile incidents, resulted in 382 US casualties formally recognized (according to the VFW).  When one counts lives lost during the Berlin Airlift and many other occurrences that remain behind a shroud of secrecy, the number is far higher.

As I said in the opening paragraph, my instinct is almost always to shy away from yet another award for the slightly-better-than-ordinary.  We have far too many already.

But for those who served this nation during the prolonged era of tension, readiness, deterrence, loss, sacrifice, courage, and ultimately, victory that encompassed the 46 years of the Cold War, it may be time that recognition is due.    Their efforts, whether they fired in anger or not, that secured our freedom during those years, was truly extraordinary.  What does the MILBLOG crowd have to say?

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Re-Post: Is it Time for a Cold War Victory Medal?

  1. Pingback: The cost of Defense « Chockblock's blog

  2. I hate to say this Brad, but many in academia and in Congress view the USSR as being on the right side of the Cold War. Hell, George Lucas and James Cameron openly worship the Viet Cong. It would take a Congress with gumption to push this through. Expect the MSM and the loony left to pitch a fit.

  3. OldTexan

    I would say no. I spent four years in the Army from 1966 – 1970 and three in Europe doing the intercept stuff. At no time was I in danger and I am proud of the job we did however, I think medals are for folks who go in harms way and get shot at.

    I look at the uniforms of Generals in WWI and then I see Generals today and I think the uniforms now are kind of gaudy and trashed up with all the stuff plastered on. We don’t serve for medals and while it is nice to be recognized for service I don’t think we need another medal.

    Anyway that is just one old guy’s thoughts.

    • Maybe we could say being a free citizen in the United States is recognition enough?
      That is, before Barry can turn us into a bunch of serfs. The next four years could get ugly, depending on what stunts he pulls.

  4. Esli

    I would have thought it okay when they first floated the idea a long time ago. Wound up with my Cold War service certificate that they issued to anybody who wrote in and asked for it, because issuing a medal was deemed too expensive. Now my opinion is that my service from 86 until now is recognized by my little old Army Service Ribbon. Going to read the linked article; maybe it will change my mind.

  5. Yes. Even though I will never wear it. I couldn’t get back into any of my former uniforms anyway.

  6. NaCly Dog

    No award for the Cold War.

    We as a united nation leading stout allies (less France etc.) were victorious. However, the longer war against the Left and the end of American ideals and values is not in doubt anymore. Pain ahead.

  7. apache

    Take a good look around. Media is mouthpiece of democrat administration, democrats commit voter fraud, government ready to tax up to 55% to 75% of income.
    Bubba, the United States did NOT win the cold war.
    The US lost that war at home amongst the civilian population who thought more of the Soviet Union than it ever did the Constitution which the current crop of socialist democrats are about to shred to confetti.

    No win, no medal.

  8. No, no Cold War-specific medal. I served from 1975 to 1999, says so on my DD Form 214. That’s all I need or want. If it was up to me, we’d award medals for combat and combat related actions only. No more NCO PME ribbons, Good Conduct Medals etc etc. But that’s just me.

    And Apache has a point. Who said we won?

  9. ultimaratioregis

    “No win, no medal.”

    Tough crowd! Wish I could disagree with the sentiment!

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