Friday, November 07, 2008

Paper Trail

For various (and sundry) reasons I've been busily going through old files the last couple of weeks. This includes an entire set with enticing labels like: "Army, orders," "Army, Pay," "Army, Awards," and - apparently when I was more than sick of the job - "Army Forms, STUPID." There's another set for the Air Force as well although I don't seem to have made editorial comments on those. Mixed in there was a DD Form 214 (DD for Department of Defense - all the army and air force stuff is DD something-er-other) which is Kirk's CERTIFICATE OF RELEASE OR DISCHARGE FROM ACTIVE DUTY.

Kirk spent about nine or ten years in the active military - four years plus some spare change in the army and five years in the air force. As a lowly Lt (and later Capt) in the air force he used to get funny looks from other officers when he wore his ribbons [for non-military types awards usually come with three pieces (at least those that have a medal attached): a large medal, a small medal for wearing with the dress mess uniform, and a little ribbon swatch wrapped around a piece of brass that is then slid onto a rack that can be pinned to the shirt or jacket]. He quickly stopped bothering with most of them and only wore the few he felt were worthwhile.

Along with a lot of other varied information the DD 214 includes section 13: Decorations, Medals, Badges, Citations and Campaign Ribbons Awarded or Authorized. Kirk's spills into section 18: Remarks. In his time in service he was awarded:

Air Force Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with 1 device, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award with 1 device, Air Force Training Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award with 1 Device, NATO, AFEM, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Meritorious Service Medal.

He thought many of these were funny - like the Hey! You Didn't Get Kicked Out Yet! Awards and what he referred to as the Thanks For Playing Medal (Army Good Conduct). He was genuinely proud of his Air Force Achievement Medal and his Joint Service Commendation Medals. He had mixed feelings about the Army Achievement Medal and the Kosovo Campaign Medal.

We still have most of the certificates that came with the important ones. They come in blue padded plastic folders with a gold-sealed certificate on one side and a blurry, badly printed letter on the other. They aren't terribly detailed, the important ones, just talking about valuable service and sort of general comments about really good work.

I only know bits and pieces of the stories behind them - the parts Kirk felt he could tell me or the funny things that happened around them.

Everything else is just this simple list.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny how a piece of paper or a piece of metal can tell a story