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Medal Of Goner

by Chris Bodenner

David Silbey reads a heroic account of Marine Pfc. Richard Weinmaster in Afghanistan and writes:

Now that reads to me like a Medal of Honor citation. Weinmaster didn’t quite jump directly onto a grenade, but he did put himself between the grenade and his fellow marines, shielding them from the explosion and absorbing the blast. More, after Navy-cross surviving that, he got back up, grievously wounded (including having a bit of shrapnel lodged in his brain, where it remains to this day), and continued to fire on the ambushers until literally collapsing from his wounds. Rating acts of valor is a bit of a mug’s game, but having read a fair number of Medal of Honor citations, that account would not, it seems to me, be out of place. The citation, however, is not for a Medal of Honor: Weinmaster was awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest award for sailors and marines. The most substantial difference that I can see from his situation and other recent Medals of Honor is that Weinmaster survived the action.

In fact, during the last eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan, only six Medals of Honor have been awarded - all posthumously. In Vietnam, only 92 of the 246 recipients lived to see their award (one of them - Robert Patterson - happened to be in my dad's platoon). Congressman Duncan Hunter is pushing a bill to have the selection process reviewed.

Finally, to add a bit more perspective on the Gitmo transfer debate: Leavenworth is home to more Medal of Honor recipients than any other place besides Arlington.