(Youtube link to this dog'n'pony show at Fort Drum is here - since it seems impossible to embed videos directly on OS any more.)
Similiar trenchant comments are on this milblog discussion thread from last week, with regard to Obama’s more-than-embarrassing confusion while visiting the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum; between a living recipient of the Medal of Honor and one who was awarded it posthumously . . . You know that the MOH is not handed out like tricker-treat candy, and to be the one presenting it to a soldier/sailor/airman/Marine who has survived . . . one would have thought a few details, like the name of the first living recipient since the Vietnam War would have stuck in the presidential mind. (Note to the president: the living MOH recipient is SSgt Salvatore Giunta, and he was and is a 173rd Airborne troop.)
Really, one would have expected better of the mind of one so frequently lauded by a lickspittle press as being so intellectually superior. Back in the day, Sam Houston was absolutely legendary for his recollect of the name, service and exploits of just about every man who had ever enlisted and fought under his command in Texas; he, of course, had at best only a thousand or so to keep in mind. Still – one would like to think that the names of those awarded the MOH during his administration could be kept in mind, if not by the commander in chief himself, at least one of his flunkies.
Although the President did personally call and apologize to the family of SFC Monti a day after the gaffe at Fort Drum - one begins to wonders why no one on-scene when it was committed managed to pass him a note, or whisper something like, "Mmmm, Boss? There's a little problem 'bout what you said..." Most certainly the commanders, officers and personnel recognized at once that there was a 'little problem.' Stuff like the names of heroes – is one of those things that military members are expected to know. It’s kind of a core-knowledge thing. We used to have a special category of spots to air on military TV and radio about heroic deeds, and the names and faces of those who went above and beyond, and that’s the kind of history included in our basic training, promotion testing, and professional development courses.
So – here we have a CinC who either can’t be bothered to get it straight – or doesn’t care, and goofs it horrendously in front of a lot of people who did and do care, very much . . . and possibly could have served with the late SFC Monti. It says a lot for the self-discipline of the 10th Mountain Division troops that there seemed to have been no overt reaction, other than a lot of poker-faces going rather more poker-faced. Very likely this would be seen by ordinary civilians as . . . well, really, one of those silly and quite understandable goofs. But to military members, this kind of mistake is not seen in that light at all. At best – inexcusably careless, and at worst contemptuous of those who serve in the US armed forces. An apology was called for, tendered and accepted graciously - but that it had been neccessary to begin with - does not bode well.