A bit more on Swamp Heathen 1


If you don’t mind indulging me.  His daughters had printed out my post and displayed it at the funeral service.  Also on display was this shadowbox Don had put together years ago (as well as one with his NASA pins for various missions).

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I had not recognized the award between Don’s Silver Star and Bronze Star. When I told XBrad it looked like a Legion of Merit, he said that was usually for generals and colonels as a farewell gesture, that it was unusual for an enlisted man to get one. See for yourself, and believe me, no Stolen Valor here. The part I messed up was thinking he was E-8 and not E-7, and that was entirely my presumption that anyone who made sergeant at 19 would have been promoted more than twice in 18 years.

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4 responses to “A bit more on Swamp Heathen 1

  1. Pingback: RIP, Swamp Heathen 1 | Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid

  2. Nate Hale

    Legion of Merit for sure and WELL deserved. There is no other retirement award worthy of a double awardee of the Silver Star. There is travesty and injustice though: why DIDN’T this man retire as a MSG?

    • One thing I look at is good conduct medal per length of service. If I read that right (bronze with one clasp), it seems that he has two awards (6 years) for his career. The implication is that he had a lot of service time, with extensive combat time, and had some behavior problems or other issues with his commanders. He was valued, but not promoted. Or could be he was not as good at office politics at an early age, as your story indicates he was a master of it at NASA.

      For example, one Master Chief I knew in the Navy was missing 12 years of Good Conduuct Medals per his hash marks. He said he was a Stormy Petrel in his early service days, and took a while to mature. Couldn’t happen in today’s Navy of course.

      Roamy, thank you for telling his story, and showing his shadow box. The major awards are most impressive. The Army is saying he was very effective in combat.

      I spent a fair amount of time on the internet (Wikipedia and other sites) to try and understand the US Army medal system.

      One of the interesting things is his Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with a 3. That indicates a high level of leadership training. The max is 4.

      Questions for the Army vets:

      1) Why is there an Army Service Ribbon?
      2) What does the Overseas Service Ribbon do that service stripes does not?
      2) Does the O.C.S. badge mean he was selected for OCS, participated in OCS, and did not get commisioned?
      3) Does the free-fall jump wings indicate H.A.L.O. capability, or just 5 non-static line jumps?
      4) Roamy, could you please show his NASA awards? I’m not familiar with their award system.

    • NaCly, yes, he did go to OCS, graduated, and then turned it down / changed his mind. He said it was one of the hardest decisions he ever made, and he still wondered for years if he made the right choice, but he felt that he would not have survived Vietnam as a 2LT.

      Also, yes, he made many HALO jumps.

      I don’t have a good photo of the NASA shadowbox, but they are the pins handed out for various missions. I have most of the same ones – Apollo anniversaries, Shuttle anniversaries, launches of telescopes, etc. His Silver Snoopy was in a separate frame, and that is a significant award. He also had a 3″ binder of all the NASA group achievement and superior performance awards.