|The Sarge's Medals and Badges* (Source)|
A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon. Attributed to the Emperor Napoléon.There is also this...
"Men can, of course, be stirred into life by being dressed up in uniforms and made to blare out chants of war. It must be confessed that this is one way for men to break bread with comrades and to find what they are seeking, which is a sense of something universal, of self-fulfillment. But of this bread men die." Antoine De Saint ExupéryA dress uniform should look good, it should be something the wearer is proud to don when going out in public. What better way to adorn that uniform (especially when it is drab and ordinary looking, like Air Force uniforms these days, don't get me started) with a bit of colored ribbon and a shiny badge (or three) above the pocket?
Your average patriotic civilian should take a certain amount of pride in seeing the proud warriors of our nation clad in their military finery. Those ribbons upon the chest serve two purposes out there in civvy street: one, to make the wearer feel good about him or herself, and two, to impress the civilian folk.
Of course, they serve another purpose. When two military people meet, and they are in service dress or even mess dress, they will immediately scan each other's awards, decorations, and badges. In the aviation services, pilot wings are noticed first and foremost. The ability to operate a flying machine is big medicine to some folks.
Other badges of note would be the SEAL trident (or Budweiser), the Fleet Marine Force Corpsman badge, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the ever popular jump wings. The latter being awarded to those who voluntarily jump out of perfectly good aircraft.
Now the point of this is to determine where the other fellow (or gal) has been and what they did when they were there. So to speak.
Combat decorations always garner respect. Those who know what to look for can easily distinguish real "been there, done that" decorations from the "look what I got for showing up" awards. When I enlisted, the "everybody gets a ribbon" mantra had not kicked in yet.
Eventually it did though and we started seeing things like the Air Force Training Ribbon. Which essentially means "Yay! You managed to graduate from Basic Training or Officer Training School and now get to wear the uniform." With that one measly ribbon. Unless you managed to join up when there was a war on, an approved sort of war (or conflict if you will) which then entitles one to the National Defense Medal. So there ya go, in for less than a year and you've already got two ribbons!
Of course, you could be an Honor Graduate of Basic Training (yup, another ribbon) maybe even a "marksman" (you were able to punch a certain number of holes in a paper target) which entitles you to another ribbon. Wow, less than a year in uniform and you've got four ribbons!
|General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower|
That picture of Ike was taken around 1945, after the end of World War II. The war in which he commanded the entire Allied army on the Western Front. In the picture Ike is wearing the five stars of a General of the Army and had been in the United States Army since 1915.
And he's wearing three, count them, three ribbons. Of course, he had far more than that he could wear. He just chose not to. Other generals back then liked their bling. Like this fellow...
|General George S. Patton, Jr.|
General Patton liked to wear his awards.
Some folks did (and do) some folks don't.
When I was in I didn't normally wear my badges and ribbons on my everyday uniform. Well, with one exception that is. I always wore this one...
|Senior Aircraft/Munitions Maintenance Badge|
That badge told my fellow office wienies, er co-workers, that I had, once upon a time, dragged a toolbox out of a Step Van and worked (in all sorts of weather) on aircraft. Things which flew and dropped ordnance on the enemies of freedom everywhere.
That was one badge I really enjoyed having. Didn't "need" it, but it was "nice to have." Made me feel that I used to be "somebody."
Here's my full "fruit salad" display...
From top to bottom, left to right, they are:
- Master Communications and Information Badge
- Senior Aircraft/Munitions Maintenance Badge
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- Air Force Commendation Medal, Two Awards
- Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Two Awards
- Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Six Awards
- National Defense Service Medal
- Korea Defense Service Medal
- Air Force Overseas Service Ribbon - Short Tour, Four Awards
- Air Force Overseas Service Ribbon - Long Tour, Three Awards
- Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon. Four Awards
- Air Force Professional Military Education Ribbon, Two Awards
- Air Force Training Ribbon aka "Battle of Lackland Award"
So yes, there probably are too many awards, but those who know can separate the wheat from the chaff. For instance, someone might be wearing one small ribbon, and nothing else with it, and command instant respect from those "who know." This one...
That's the ribbon for the Medal of Honor, our Nation's highest award for valor in combat. Most of those who have been awarded this medal, had it awarded posthumously. That is, the action which merited the award also cost them their life.
Someone wearing the Medal of Honor is entitled to a salute from all other military personnel, regardless of rank. And believe me, they earned it.
*Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!