Air Force recommends 12 airmen receive upgraded medals

A photo illustration superimposes a screen grab showing Air Force awards and decorations on top of an image depicting the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team performing in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22, 2016. The Air Force announced Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, that officials are recommending 12 medals awarded to airmen be upgraded for their actions taken since 2001 in the war on terror.


By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Air Force is recommending 12 medals awarded to airmen be upgraded for their actions taken since 2001 in the war on terror, the service said Friday.

The upgrade of medals is part of a review by all of the services to determine whether airmen, sailors, Marines and soldiers who have fought in the war on terror were properly recognized for the efforts. The review was sparked by concerns that few Medals of Honor were awarded for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which millions of Americans have served.

In early 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the review was targeting more than 1,100 Silver Stars and service crosses awarded for actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Of those medals, the Army reviewed 785 Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross awards. The Navy, including the Marines, reviewed 425 Navy Cross and Silver Star medals. The Air Force reviewed 147 medals, including 135 Silver Stars and 12 Air Force Crosses.

Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis said the service could not specify what the 12 upgrade recommendations were – whether all are upgrades from Silver Stars to the Air Force Cross or the review concluded that some of those awards deserved upgrade to a Medal of Honor. Lewis said the recommendations are with Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James for action. James' term as Air Force Secretary ends next week.

An upgrade to a service cross is approved by a service secretary, whereas a Medal of Honor recommendation requires review by the White House.

The Navy announced in December that two of its Navy Cross recipients would be recommended to receive a Medal of Honor. Four Marines and a sailor will also be awarded medals upgrades Friday at a ceremony in North Carolina.



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