Litkicks Message Board Archive

I refused the undistinguished flying cross

Posted to Poetry and Politics

at the end of my year in Vietnam.
I had briefly worked in "awards and decorations" early on in my tour, that is, on days off I was pursued for extra duties and thought it would be good for my ratings, so I helped with the writing yup up of end of tour undistinguished flying crosses. It's actually a pretty medal, a four-bladed propellor. But the end of tour medal, which was given to almost all aircrew members, required 2 things: 1) a minimum number of missions flown and 2) some kind of exretory, here I am sitting in the back offce at squadron headquarters, monsoon season, fall, 1970, still buzzed from the marijuana I'd smoked the evening before at the "surf club" and being told that I have to fake missions for the outgoing squadron commander and his second in command, both of whom are Lt. Colonels, who flew about 1/4 the number of missions the rest of us flew (I logged over 700 hours) / so I was told to write in the required extra missions in the squadron log book for these lifers and then write a report based upon a form letter about a day in which they exhibited an extraordinary bravery.
So I did this for about two hours and then walked out.

When I was told to out process at the end of my tour, some clerk asked me about my end of tour undistinguished flying cross. I distinctly remember saying, "Forget about it!"

I suppose it could have been somewhat comforting in later down and out times, but the die was cast and my rebellion became manifest within a week after coming back I was in alma mater Ann Arbor staring at a ragtag bunch of pissed off Vietnam veterans, Vietnam Vets against the War. Three months later, I did an all night vigil with VVAW, the Black Panthers at thr Rose bOwl parade site, Jan 1, 1972. Then refused flying the next week and began my dissent, also my proud association with the company of John Kerry, my long awaited champion.

As is turns out, I did get an outstanding officer eval for my Vietnam tour as I'd upgraded to aircraft commander and squadron flight instructor. But it was only a way to survive the dread and boredom and gave me a belief in some ability to renew and acheive later on. Plus always some credibility, too. I've used it to compliment my dissent in various media and interpersonal situations.

Yes I am one P.O.'d M.F. And a smile takes courage, the true grit of revolution. Fuck John Wayne and fuck George W. Bush.