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Can you at least let me know if an appeal of this type - appeal of denial of a military decoration - is acceptable to the court or if it would be considered frivolous (assuming I am not making it all up)? The court must have more important things to do, but I'm not sure how to appeal the decision otherwise.
Yes, I do. Their denial was based on the award (a BSM) would overlap an AFCM which I received. 1) They are for different actions; 2) The actions under the BSM took place within the timeframe of the AFCM, but covered a much briefer period; and 3) The Board stated that they could only make an exception (regarding overlap) if the BSM actions were for heroism or outstanding achievement (the AFCM is for meritorious service), and in fact the BSM was submitted for outstanding achievement. In addtion, since the AFCM basically covered my Vietnam tour, their argument would mean that no other medal could be awarded for any actions during my tour because any such award would overlap the time frame of the AFCM.
I requested and received a copy of my service records in 2009, and found upon reading a performance report that my commander had recommended me for the BSM as well as two other awards which I did receive. I then contacted the USAF to learn the disposition of the BSM, which lead to a filing with the AFBCMR, a denial based on the usual (no hard evidence it had been awarded), my submission of a reconstructed BSM recommendation written last year by the awards and decorations officer of my unit at the time (1967 - 1968), per the Board's instructions, etc. Specifically the AFCM covers normal duties of an aircraft crew chief over a period of a year, and the BSM focuses on ground combat actions during the Tet Offensive (defense of our MACV compound during a ground assault).
No, my contention is that have misunderstood, misapplied, or ignored USAF award and decoration regulations which do allow the award of two different medals during the same time frame if the achievements are different. They are basically saying because there is an overlap in the timeframe, the BSM cannot be awarded without referencing the fact that the achievements are different. They are also saying that the achievements under the BSM are already covered under the AFCM, which is not the case. They do note that I received another "achievement" award within the timeframe of the AFCM (an Airman's Medal) but make no comment on the contradiction to their argument. They did not ever consider the merits of the BSM recommendation (if I had been denied on that basis I would have no grounds for complaint).
I'm afraid I'm taking up too much of your time. I've only paid $30 for all of this, and I know your time must be worth more than that.
The Board determined in 2009 after investigation by the USAF awards and decorations branch, that there was no evidence either way (and I have far fewer resources than they do). For this reason, they denied my initial request in 2009, but stated they would reopen the case if I submitted a reconstructed recommendation. At that time such a task was impossible as I was out of touch with the former awards and decorations officer and my former commander had been killed in Vietnam right after I left in 1968. I renewed contact with the awards and decorations officer in 2010 or 2011 through a chance Internet contact. He volunteered to write a new recommendation in 2012 when I explained what had transpired.
You've been great, thanks. It isn't really bad news, and I've never felt I deserved the BSM - it was a case of you do what you have to do, as I'm sure you understand with your own military background. In fact, what I asked of the Board originally was merely to tell me the disposition of the recommendation, along with requests for corrections to my records (all of those requests were accomplished). I didn't request the medal. I only sent in the reconstructed recommendation at the Board's request, if I can put it that way, and only after my accidental reacquaintance with the awards and decorations officer, etc. I guess I'm mostly just frustrated with their apparent disregard of what I sent to them, and their making statements which are factually incorrect in reaching their decision. All of that aside, though, I do understand all that you are saying, and perhaps there was no point in ever pursuing the matter as far as I did. Please resend the rating request message so that I can give your responses a rating. Best regards. David Sciacchitano
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