Thursday, September 02, 2010

Connie Pillich's Ribbons

Connie Pillich with President Obama
If you've been around the internet checking up on Ohio Democrats, you may have seen a story floating around asking what is up with Connie Pillich's rack of military ribbons. I have been working on this story for a few days trying to pin down a few details and am now ready to report the story here on WMD.

I first saw this story on Free Republic, but you can find pieces of this story here too. I'm sure it is elsewhere, but these are the two sites that I have looked at the most in trying to figure it all out.

Connie Pillich in USAF uniform.
Connie Pillich has been going around on the campaign trail wearing a rack of military ribbons such as the one above taken from Pillich's own website.  To the right, you will see an image of Connie in her USAF uniform and will note that she is wearing far fewer ribbons.  That image comes from a Buckeye State Blog post.  There are other photos with differing numbers and combinations of ribbons and medals.

For those interested, the USAF chart of ribbons and the order they are supposed to appear on the rack can be found here.

What is this all about?  The question that has been asked is whether or not Connie Pillich has violated the Stolen Valor Act.  I do not believe that is the case.  We know for a fact that Pillich received eight commendations:  Air Force Commendation Medal with Two Oak Clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Two Oak Clusters, Occupation Medal, Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, national defense service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with One Oak Leaf Cluster, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, and the Air Force Training Ribbon.

So, what is all of this other stuff she is wearing?  Best guess is that she is also wearing a number of "commemorative" ribbons that are not official issue.  And that is why I don't believe she has violated Stolen Valor.

However, she might have a problem with the United States Air Force though because of this passage in the manual that covers dress and appearance of Air Force personnel (PDF) found in Chapter 4, section 4:

“4.4. Wear of Awards and Decorations by Retirees and Honorably Discharged Veterans. Honorably
discharged and retired Air Force members may wear full-size or miniature medals on civilian suits on
appropriate occasions such as Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day. Female members may wear
full-size or miniature medals on equivalent dress.”
I don't believe the United States Air Force would classify campaigning for political office as an "appropriate occasion" but that is really up to them.

From my perspective, this mystery is solved.  Your mileage may vary...

The remaining question that only voters can answer is this: Is it appropriate for her to be wearing the ribbons in apparent contravention to the regulations and what does that say about Connie Pillich?