Posted by Lex, on August 8, 2006
We don’t award medals to reward heroes for their actions – we award them so that they might be recognized by the rest of us. We award them that we might be aware of the fact that we are in the presence of heroic virtue, that such qualities abide, that we might by their example be encouraged.
With all that said, Joseph Kinney, of the New York Times of all places, asks a pretty good question in his Op-Ed today:
Captain Brian Chontosh is the kind of soldier who, in years past, would have received a ticker-tape parade down Fifth Avenue.
As a young lieutenant in 2003, he and his platoon were ambushed near Baghdad. Machine gun fire, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades spewed from every direction. Lieutenant Chontosh ordered his Humvee directly into an enemy machine-gun position, where his gunner destroyed the nest. He then advanced on a trench, where he exited his vehicle and scattered enemy fighters. After his ammunition was depleted, he twice picked up an enemy’s rifle and continued.
By the time the smoke cleared, Lieutenant Chontosh had killed more than 20 insurgents and saved the lives of dozens in his platoon. For his incredible courage, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest award given to Marines.
The story of Brian Chontosh is a familiar one to milblog readers – and although it is probably vulgar of me to point it out, it’s interesting that, using the Time’s own search engine, the very first mention of his name in that paper occurs in this op-ed, written by a non-staff writer and used to score points against the Department of Defense.
But nevermind, it’s still a good question: Where are the missing medals?