OMSA President’s Message

May-June 2017

Borch, Mr. Fred

Mr. Fred Borch

Dear Fellow OMSA members:

New “C” and “R” Devices on United States awards. For those of you who collect American medals, the Defense Department has announced that new “C” and “R” devices will join the existing “V” device as an appurtenance on as many as 12 military awards.


These two new devices emerged from a comprehensive Defense Department study of military awards and decorations that was triggered by the creation, and then quick death, of a new Distinguished Warfare Medal in early 2013. Then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had approved the new decoration, which was intended to recognize the extraordinary achievements of military personnel involved in the piloting of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and engaged in offensive and defensive information technology (cyber) operations. Within weeks of Panetta’s departure, however, Secretary Chuck Hagel, who followed Panetta, rescinded the new medal as unnecessary. But Hagel did acknowledge that some sort of a “distinguishing device” was probably appropriate to recognize the achievements of men and women “who directly affect combat operations without being present.” With this as background, the newly created Defense Department “C” and “R” devices make sense.


“C” stands for “combat.” The “C” device may be placed on an individual award to denote meritorious achievement or service “under combat conditions.” Consequently, the “C” could be worn on the ribbon of the Army Commendation Medal so that a person seeing the ribbon with “C” would know that the medal had been awarded during a combat operation rather than peacetime. But the “C” would not be permitted on the Bronze Star Medal, as that decoration is exclusively for combat; the “C” would be redundant. The Army has already announced that the “C” would be permitted on the (Army) Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal, but only for awards made after January 7, 2016. Awards approved prior to that date are ineligible for the “C.”


“R” stands for “remote.” The “R” device on an individual award denotes contributions to a combat operation from a remote location. This can be “hands-on employment of a weapons system or other war fighting activities… but from a location where the individual was not personally exposed to hostile action.” Obviously, an unnamed aerial system operator would qualify. The “R” device will be permitted on the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal.


The bottom line on the “C” and “R” is that while the decoration or medal is the individual award, the intent of the device is to distinguish the conditions under which the soldier, sailor, airmen, marine received the award.


Boxer Rebellion monograph. The new edition is out. We published 100 copies. As only 6 remain, this hardcover book is going to sell-out. Contact Steve Watts at Email Link  to purchase your copy. A book review appeared in the January-February JOMSA.


Donations to OMSA. While your Board of Directors and other members of OMSA positions are not paid, and the fact volunteer their time and energy to our Society, it is expensive to publish our world-class JOMSA and put on our annual convention. Please consider a donation to OMSA to help defray our ever increasing expenses. We are a 501c(3) organization, so your donation is tax deductible. Please send your check to Tim Bartholow, our Treasurer.


2017 OMSA Convention in Grand Rapids. It is not too late to register for our upcoming convention. Hope to see some first time attendees. Contact Tom Kullgren at Email Link.



Best wishes to all, Fred


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