Let Them Keep Their Participation Trophies!

in Leadership/Rants

This post first appeared on the USNI Blog here.

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to request that you let the JAG Corps officers who prosecuted Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher keep the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals (NAM) that you so uncharitably stripped from them last week.

True, they didn’t technically “earn” those awards but that doesn’t mean you should take them away! Sir, I don’t know if you know this, but that’s not how we do things in the Navy. Sure, the prosecution team illegally wiretapped Navy Times and violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. Yes, they leaked documents and manipulated witnesses. Fine, even one of their own witnesses confessed under oath to committing the murder (after being granted immunity). Ok, ok, and they also tried to cover it all up. Look, the bottom line is those officers did a thing, in conjunction with wearing a uniform, and that merits an award.

What’s next? Are you going to take away our End of Tour Awards? Are we supposed to just NOT get awarded for completing a tour of duty without getting fired? Ha ha . . . you can see how ridiculous that sounds . . . right? I once didn’t get an End of Tour award. I “fleeted up” from my first division officer tour to my second on the same ship. Instead of getting a NAM at the end of my first tour, I got one at the end of second tour while all of my peers were getting Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals. It was traumatizing. I cried myself to sleep that night on my locally handmade, responsibly-sourced, organic, avocado-based pillow.

BTW, I’m not sure what generation those JAG Corps officers are, but did you know you can kill a millennial by taking away their participation trophy? We have extremely fragile psyches.

People love to blame millennials for their addiction to participation trophies, but the military has mastered the art and taken it to a whole new level. First of all, what generation decided to start giving National Defense Service Medals to every service member just for walking in the door after 9/11? Literally the only criterion is serving during the Global War on Terror—a war that has no indication, or even concept, of victory after almost 20 years! This is the ultimate participation trophy! Was it the millennials who ALL joined after 9/11? Hmmm . . . well, whoever it was, I’m sure it was the millennials’ fault.

Sir, this is the United States Navy! Everyone gets an award. So what if some of our first class petty officers look like Middle Eastern dictators in their dress uniforms? Besides, its gonna get, like, really hard if we have to start earning our accolades. The next thing you know we’re going to be asked to prove our worth as officers before we get promoted! Let’s not be rash, sir. You seem to be very fair. For example, when the Secretary of the Navy challenged you to fire him if the Ford class CVN elevators weren’t fixed by Summer 2019, and they were still brokenin July . . . you promoted him to Secretary of Defense! That’s the spirit! So, in honor of fairness and tradition, let those officers keep their participation trophies!

Very, very, very, very, very, very, very respectfully,

Salty

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