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Army's warriors of Y2K rewarded

Medals to be given for computer work


USA Today

As battles go, it wasn't exactly D-Day. But that won't stop some in the Army from pinning medals on the soldiers who helped defeat the Y2K bug.

In a recent memo to his unit leaders, the deputy commander of Atlanta-based Army Forces Command issued a ``Y2K Awards Matrix.''

The memo of Lt. Gen. Lawson Magruder urged ``an appropriate, equitable and consistent approach'' regarding the awarding of medals to those who shepherded the command's computers through the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000 without a hitch.

Time of service

Soldiers who worked more than two months on Y2K and made a ``major contribution'' are eligible for the Army Achievement Medal. Those with at least one year of ``significant planning or operational impact'' can receive the higher Army Commendation Medal. And two to three years as a Y2K project manager entitles a soldier to the Meritorious Service Medal.

Those making lesser contributions will be eligible for certificates or souvenir coins.

``There was a lot of hard work done, and it all supports the war fighter,'' said Forces Command spokesman Col. Bob Thomson.

Retired Army officer Ralf Zimmerman, president of Soldiers for the Truth, a conservative, pro-military advocacy group, complains that medals no longer ``distinguish between front-line service and administrative accomplishments.''

Though he lauds Magruder for establishing clear criteria, Zimmerman notes that the Meritorious Service Medal given for a few years of Y2K work is the same award that he received after 20 years of service that included combat in the Persian Gulf War.

``Kevlar fabric seems the only fabric with the adequate tensile strength to hold the weight of all the awards we'll be hanging on our techno-warriors,'' Zimmerman said.

42 medals so far

So far, Forces Command, which oversees 200,000 U.S.-based active-duty soldiers as well as reserve and guard units, has awarded 42 Y2K medals, but potentially thousands more throughout the Army could receive medals for Y2K service. Military commanders enjoy wide discretion when it comes to medals. It is unclear whether Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps commands will follow suit.

The Army is the most generous service when it comes to medals. In 1998, it recognized for distinguished achievement or service one in every 2.2 soldiers, giving them a Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal or Army Achievement Medal. That doesn't include other awards such as good-conduct ribbons.

By comparison, the Marine Corps gave one award for every 16 Marines in 1998

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 21, 2000


While I admire anyone that does good work on the job, this is a bit much. We have become so bloated and arrogant in promoting "How Grand We Are," at every level of government, education, sports, religions, and hero-hood, ad infinitum, that it has become a huge joke.

Sports stars are considered our heroes; politicians are those with the most charisma and TV appeal; religious leaders are the electronic preachers with the most TV and radio appeal. Yet this ilk, sports heroes who are violent, do drugs and break various laws; politicians who often lie, cheat, and commit white collar crimes with impunity, and electronic preachers spouting "love the sinner but hate the sin," while preaching bigotry, and censorship, are all given honorary titles, gushing praise, numerous awards, and big money.

-- gilda (, March 21, 2000.

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