Monday, July 18, 2005
Air Force Officers Should Not Be Above Showing Pride
There is an unwritten rule in the Air Force that states Officers do not wear their ribbons or awards on their uniform. You can only wear them on your service coat when you’re at an official awards function or the extremely rare formal event, but you leave them off for all other occasions. My question is… if Enlisted personnel wear their ribbons proudly with every uniform configuration, why can’t us Officers?
The Navy, Marines, and Army Officers all seem to wear their ribbons proudly, but most Air Force Officers seem to think that they’re above wearing their ribbons. Why is this?
I’ve been wearing a more ‘snazzy’ uniform configuration lately because I’m interviewing with various offices for a new job assignment on base, and I’ve made it a point to wear my ribbons on these days. There are a few folks in my office that seem to be sneering at the fact that I’m wearing them, and their faces don’t hide their feelings on the issue when I pass them by or chat with them.
It’s getting to the point where I want to wear them every day just to see how many folks I can piss off. I’m hoping someone finally breaks down and confronts me on the issue so I can shoot right back and ask them why I shouldn’t wear them.
My argument for wearing them is:
1) There’s no written rule against Officers wearing what they’ve earned.
2) Why is it that only Air Force Officers shun wearing them.
3) Why is that only Enlisted personnel can feel pride in what they’ve accomplished, whereas Officers are supposed to hide it.
Not sure where to go with all of this other than to say it’s a moronic ‘unwritten’ rule amongst us Officers. We should be proud about what we’ve accomplished, and we should wear that pride on our uniform.
posted by El Capitan at 5:05 PM
A mustang once confided to me that OCS taught him that ribbons were intended to keep the enlisted pukes happy.4:36 PM
I've heard similar, but I completely disagree with that notion.9:11 AM
Don't want to bash the AF, but maybe you guys have gone too far in trying to create a corporate vs military mentality....?
As far as wearing awards, hell I earned them, I'm going to wear them. The only unofficial rule that I've heard of in the Army is that officers don't wear marksmanship or driver badges. Your ribbon rack is your unofficial resume. It tells anyone who is in the know where you've been and what you've done. When I see campaign ribbons and valor awards, I know I'm dealing with a veteran and not some guy who's never deployed.
Pal-- I had a nice post ready on my site in response, but for some reason it got junked. Here's what I could salvage:
IMHO, the reason why Air Force officers don't wear ribbons and awards on their shirts is probably pretty simple: insecurity.
Unlike the other services, the Air Force is overwhelmingly staffed with desk jockeys-- they don't call it the "Chair Force" for nothing. For every officer pilot or aircrew you meet, you're liable to run into many more officers who only get close to planes while flying TDY.
Now, in the infinitely correct wisdom of Big Blue, each of these officers-- whether they fly satellites at a terminal, supervise an engine depot, or push paper in a budget shop-- they all deserve recognition. After all, the pilots may fly the planes, but the rest of the service makes the planes fly. It's a team, right?
Unfortunately, Captain Bob and Major Jane back in CONUS don't get campaign ribbons for flying shit-hots over the sandpit. Instead, they stock up on candy like commendations and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Now, most of these are well-deserved, and quite often, they don't come close to measuring the true worth of the recipient's accomplishments. Unfortunately, however, all too often awards like this are "perfect attendance" awards-- handed out at the end of a tour merely for showing up at your job. Hell, I've even seen people pick up oak leaf clusters for planning stuff like Christmas parties and General Officer retirement ceremonies.
So, back to the insecurity: if you're an Air Force officer who's never set foot inside a combat plane, let alone inside a combat zone, would you want to telegraph that fact by displaying a chestful of bogus salad, replete with ribbons for "Shorthand" and "Best Posture"? No, of course not.
Not wearing the ribbons and awards may be a way for the rest of the Air Force to keep the pilots and aircrews from showing off any more than their wings already do. If no one is allowed to show off, ergo, no one feels excluded from the team.
Then again, this is just a theory on my part-- I'm just an idiot civilian observer of Pentagon life. But I work with some pilots, and in whispers this morning, my theory sounds as good as any to them.
Dave, you got it. I was waiting to see if someone else would say it before I did, and you hit the nail on the head.
Most AF Officers only get the 'Good Attendance' ribbons or the 'Retirement Ceremony Planner/Office Boy' ribbons, which explains why most hide their ribbons.
Just makes me want to wear mine with pride more often. As Armynurseboy said, it's your unofficial resume. I happen to have a well written one.
I am enlisted and am one of the Chair Force/Lame High personnel. I don't know anything about Officers not wearing their ribbons, nor OCS saying ribbons make enlisted pukes happy! Quite the opposite, actually. Ribbons don't make us happy, but some recognition might be nice. At any rate, the old rule for wearing on service dress was "some, none, or all." It changed back and forth a few times, but when I would wear "some" it was always my personal medals. Given that they were for really rather pointless reasons by most peoples' standards; they were the ones I would wear. I like my short tour ribbon and my long overseas ribbon, my commendation medals and my joint commendation.
At any rate, I personally think that the ribbons need to be revamped. Maybe back in the day it was more difficult to earn these ribbons and through the years with the kinder, gentler militaries it just slipped into these fairly meaningless badges?
I do have to go online every so often and see what my rack is supposed to look like. It changes and I don't even know! That's pretty sad, if I do say so myself.
Why exactly does any of this have to come down to insecurity or an overt sense of pride because your ribbon says you've been deployed. Perhaps the lack of ribbons indicates that the officer(or enlisted) doesn't feel the need to show off for anyone else. Even in the civilian sector, keeping yourself on the same level as your subordinates can be a useful tool. Instead of being cocky with your ribbon rack and making yourself that "tool"6:07 PM