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GOP House members aim bill at new medal for drone pilots

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Three Republican congressmen introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit the Pentagon from ranking a new heroism medal for drone pilots and cyberwarriors equal to or higher than the Purple Heart.

Reps. Duncan Hunter of California, Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania — all combat veterans — introduced the bill.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal two weeks ago. It is to bestowed on drone pilots and cyberwarriors for extraordinary acts of valor outside of a combat zone.

Since then, the medal has been mocked and criticized for its ranking above the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

"Combat valor awards have a deep and significant meaning to those who serve in America's military," said Mr. Hunter, a Marine veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Mr. Murphy said: "I know personally from my Navy service with combat-wounded veterans at Walter Reed that their Purple Heart should and must rank above the Distinguished Warfare Medal. If the Pentagon will not reconsider the decision to rank this medal above the Purple Heart, the House will take action."

In a related matter, nearly 15,000 people have signed an online petition urging the White House to lower the new medal's ranking. The petition was started Feb. 16.

Any petition receiving more than 100,000 signatories in 30 days elicits a White House response.

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