Area veterans and one senator say they don't want drone operators given a medal that ranks higher than those earned in direct combat.

 

Combat veterans traveled to a VFW post in Delaware County Monday to talk about their objections to the Distinguished Warfare Medal for drone pilots and cyberwarriors.

It's simply unfair, said Ed Buffman, who served on the USS Missouri during World War II.

"You've got somebody Las Vegas or in some hotel room and they are flying a drone from the safety of the United States out in Nevada -- to put that ahead of the Bronze Star or the Purple Heart is absolutely ridiculous," Buffman said.

Veterans Gene Taylor of Ridley Park, who was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, said he's upset that the medal for drone operators ranks higher than the Purple Heart, which is awarded for being wounded in combat.

"It's like why not round up all the bakers who were in the service and give them the Betty Crocker award and it's higher than the Medal of Honor?" Taylor said.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania says he is working with others on a bill to rank actual combat ahead of virtual combat to merit a medal.

"They deserve to get a medal if they've earned that medal," Toomey said. "The question and the concern is ranking this medal higher in precedent than long established medals for valor, medals for those in
harm's way in combat zones."

Congressman Pat Meehan of Delaware County has co-sponsored a similar bill in the House.