Petition asks for change to new drone medal
BY ANDREW TILGHMAN Military Times
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
2/19/13 at 2:46 AM
WASHINGTON - More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition urging the White House to demote a new medal that will honor drone pilots and other service members who participate in combat operations without physically being in a war zone.
The new Distinguished Warfare Medal, announced last week, will rank just below the Distinguished Flying Cross in the military's official "order of precedence." That means it technically will rank higher and be worn on a uniform above the Bronze Star with V device, which honors heroic conduct on the battlefield, as well as the Purple Heart, which is awarded to troops injured in battle.
"Under no circumstance should a medal that is designed to honor a pilot (who) is controlling a drone via remote control, thousands of miles away from the theater of operation, rank above a medal that involves a soldier being in the line of fire on the ground. This is an injustice to those who have served and risked their lives and this should not be allowed to move forward as planned," reads the petition that is active now on the White House's official website.
For the Air Force, the rise of drone warfare has meant a dramatic cultural shift.
Many pilots initially dismissed drones as nothing more than video games.
But today, the Air Force trains more drone pilots than fighter or bomber pilots, and drone strikes have killed scores of terrorists, according to the Obama administration.
USA Today contributed to this report.