Cold War Victory Medal

Curt Dale

Each Veteran's Day, one of the things that hits me hardest is the lack of recognition for Cold War Veterans. Many did not go to Vietnam, or Korea, etc., where participants were given medals and ribbons for their service. But they stood in the freezing cold, some froze, flew and sailed n the worst and most hazardous of conditions, and died in hot fire in winning that war.

Sure, I got plenty of medals for Vietnam. But, we WON THE COLD WAR. I spent 17 years on Combat Crew Duty in B-47s, Atlas E and Minuteman III ICBM, RB-57F, WB-57Cs, WC-135B, ad EC-135s, and Space and Missile Warning, hanging it out over the North Pole, the Antarctic, and all over the Pacific and North Atlantic, So the 3 tours in Vietnam were actually relatively brief interludes in the often harder, dangerous work of the Cold War.

Hundreds, actually thousands, were killed and injured in Cold War efforts. The VFW lists 382 "hot fire deaths" of US Military people at the hands of Communist forces. But they were listed as "accidents" for political reasons. I've no idea how many were lost at sea or on special missions we don't even know about. There were warriors killed in the various missile fields during maintenance, installation, or even vehicle accidents as they drove to and from the launch complexes in vile weather. The 382 does not include the 99 people who died on our Scorpion sub, most likely also victims of a Communist strike. I have no idea how many aircrews were lost in crashes as they flew round the clock on airborne alert, transport aircraft delivered the supplies necessary to maintain the Cold War, while other crews were doing the many missions that were involved in Cold War reconnaissance. I lost three friends in two different crashes within a few miles of Albuquerque who were just doing their jobs in Cold War related recon missions.

WWII Veterans got a WWII Victory Medal--totally deserved. But did the Cold War Veterans get a Victory Medal? No! Donald Rumsfeld, Sec. Def., told Congress that Cold War people didn't need any more medals and killed the proposition. So, they got a national Defense Service medal which every person who enters the military gets the day they are officially active duty, having done nothing but put on a uniform to earn it. Rummy was an F-4 pilot but dodged service in Vietnam. (Some erroneously claim it was George Bush who "vetoed" the Cold War Medal, but it never got that far. It was Rummy who killed it for his own personal reasons.)

So, Congress decided to go cheap and cobbled up a Cold War Service Certificate that people could request if they wanted it. It was even given to draft dodgers who worked for the US Postal Service and others who had done squat in defense of the nation. Military people don't wear paper on their chests. I maintain that a Cold War Victory Medal should still be approved by Congress as an official United States military decoration and available to Cold War Veterans and the families of those long deceased. Believe it or not, the medals and ribbons actually exist, but our anti-military establishment figures they aren't deserved. They're so long overdue! Probably a losing effort, but I don't intend to stop beating the drum for it.

© Colonel Curtis D. Dale, PhD USAF (Ret), NOVEMBER 2013, Parker, Colorado

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