Vietnam Vet Says More Medals of Honor Must Be Awarded

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

President Obama will award the Medal of Honor today to the parents of Staff Sergeant Robbie Miller, who was killed in Afghanistan. This will be only the third time the Medal of Honor has been awarded, in what has become the U.S.'s longest war. Yesterday we talked about why so few Medals of Honor have been awarded during recent wars. Takeaway listener and Vietnam War veteran George J. Robinson explains why he believes many more servicemembers deserve this recognition.

Guests:

George J. Robinson

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [4]

George J. Robinson from New York, New

In Reply to Charles's critizue of my comments. I agree with his observation that I did not specifically address THE Medal of Honor. I intended to, and was about to in the conclusion of my remarks, however what listeners cannot know is that - due to the understandable and often unpredictable on-air time constraints plaguing the program's producers, interviewees often are denied the time they were told they would be given. This was the case with my interview. I was told I would receive a 20 second warning, so I could wrap up my point, but I did not receive that warning. I was cut off unexpectedly, and listeners didn't even hear my saying "Thank you." when I was thanked for participating..

I have strong feelings and much to say about the criteria for and process of awarding THE Medal of Honor and hope I may have another opportunity to express these.

Finally, Charles, to your point about John Kerry's post Vietnam behavior. I do not criticize him for having changed his position and opposing continuation of that "war" (a moniker Congress has since WWII refused to assign to the blood shed per their actions). "If I knew then (at 18) what I know now (at 63)," I, too, would have publicly opposed continuation of that "police action."

I agree, Charles, that throwing his medals away was, perhaps, first, unnecessary to make his point, and two, uncouth and somewhat demeaning to the spirit the medals signify and thus,. by extension, demeaning to their recipients. However I understand his and others' extreme frustration, knowing, firsthand as Kerry (and I) did, that each minute the "conflict" continued innocents (soldiers and civilians) on both sides were needlessly being maimed and killed.

Thank you, Charles, for taking the time to listen to my remarks, both on air, and herein.

(PS - I'm curious to know whether you served in the US Armed Forces, and if so, which branch, what MOS, and when? Thanks!)

Oct. 08 2010 07:24 AM
Fred Diener from New York City, NY

Vietnam Veteran George Robinson may not have been as direct in his response as other viewers expected. However, his eloquent and factual answer goes the heart of the matter by framing the awarding of our country’s highest honor for valor and selfless sacrifice in its true political and social context that when closely examined calls into question the larger issue of what the awarding of such medals represents given the prevailing attitudes of the decision-makers, policy makers, presenters of the medals and the general population whose values and conduct can be characterized as hypocritical. Having said this, another important two-part question is: (1) Are there any flaws in the process of deciding who deserves to receive such honors?; and (2) If so, what solutions can be applied that remedy the situation in addressing as well the matter if the decision makers and presenters are worthy enough to be a part of the process? What George Robinson was pointing to is the need for a higher set of standards that only allows worthy people of authority to be apart of the process. When this happens then perhaps more medals will be awarded and in a timely manner no matter how politically embarrassing. In the early years of America’s presence in Vietnam President Kennedy denied pilots deserved Purple Hearts because it would have disclosed that our country’s role had shifted from advisory to actively engaged and far earlier than his Administration was prepared ever reveal without jeopardizing his chances for re-election. Likewise President Johnson played a part in denying the awarding of medals to deserving military personnel involved in covert operations and to this day many of their military records remain falsified and/or incomplete that otherwise would help verify and validate their filing for disability claims. I stand shoulder to shoulder with George in that in my own words can be expressed as “The honor to be bestowed on the honorable can only come from honorable men”. We have four Presidents of America two mentioned by George and two by me who according to our standards should not have been apart of the process as they put themselves first and their political agendas first. Signed Fred Diener, combat Vietnam Vet awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Medal

Oct. 07 2010 07:24 PM
Willie Reyna from Viet Nam

I know George Robinson and I served with him in Viet Nam. To Me he is a real Hero and should be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. Nobody knows better than him what he had to go throught on that day of June 1966. If somebody had been there with him and had survived then maybe they would have put him in for that award. But not only him but many others that have not only fought and survived but died under extra ordinary events. Yes I think many others should have receive the highest award not only for Viet Nam war but for other wars as well. I can not sit here and blame any person or persons for any wars as I am now living in Viet Nam and am still trying to find out many things about the war and its people that were effected. I can write for many hours but now I close. Still looking for answers. Willie Reyna

Oct. 07 2010 09:02 AM
Charles

Well this one didn't go very well, did it?

I presume, only because The Takeaway's website tells me so, that the interview with Vietnam veteran George J. Robinson was intended to illuminate some issue with resepct to awarding the Medal of Honor in recent military conflicts.

But I didn't hear more than a single fleeting mention of the Medal of Honor. Instead, we got a bizarre, anti-Bush, anti-Clinton (!? Wait, that's not on-message for NPR!) rant about the injustice, apparently, that Vietnam veterans Al Gore and John Kerry didn't get elected president.

I don't know much about these two guys, "Gore" and "Kerry." Last I recall from the Vietnam era, there was a guy named Kerry who was throwing his medals (not quite sure what Kerry got any medals for) over the fence at the White House and testifying before Congress that his fellow U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were behaving like modern "Gengis Khans" and were regularly butchering the population.

Is that the kind of Medal of Honor winner that George J. Robinson is thinking about?

Oct. 06 2010 12:38 PM

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