Military Traditions

November 14, 2017 By Bill Green

This Old Uniform

I got my old service greens out of the closet recently. The idea was to get rid of them to make room for other clothes but I can’t throw them away. They say too much about me.

The black stripe down the leg and the narrower stripe around the cuff on the jacket say I was an officer. I’m kind of proud to have served 22 years as an officer in the U.S. Army. The patch on the left shoulder represents the last unit in which I served. The patch on the right shoulder says I was in a combat zone with the First Aviation Brigade. There are lots of memories that go with that patch. The silver oak leafs on the jacket signify that I was a lieutenant colonel. The U.S. and castles on my lapels place me in the Corps of Engineers.

There are 10 ribbons pinned on the blouse immediately above the left breast pocket. To another soldier, they tell a lot about where and how I served.

The bottom row says that I was an Army Reserve Officer. The second row shows I served in Vietnam. The third row tells how I served. The one on the left is an Air Medal. There is a small silver oak leaf cluster in the middle of the ribbon indicating five additional awards. The Army awarded an air medal for 25 hours flying combat assaults or 50 hours flying combat support.

The center ribbon in the third row represents an Army Commendation Award. I got that while I was Engineer Officer with the 32nd Infantry Brigade in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

The purple ribbon on the right represents the award of the Purple Heart for a wound caused by enemy action. I have mixed feelings about that one. On one hand, I earned it. On the other hand, most of those named on the “Wall” in Washington earned it, too, and they died for it. The truth is, most Purple Hearts are awarded to people who either happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or because they did something dumb.

The ribbon in the center on top represents award of the Bronze Star. There is no “V” in the middle so it was not awarded for valor. I got it for the many long days I spent performing logistics services for the battalion. The medal came in the mail after I was back in civilian life. My family thought it was a big deal. I was actually a little embarrassed, but I wore the ribbon. It is part of the story of my military service.

I am most proud of the Army Aviator wings pinned above the ribbons. The star centered above the wings surrounded by a wreath shows that I was a Master Aviator. That award requires 15 years and 2,000 hours flying. There are lots of memories in those wings.

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