Welcome to a new series here at JQP. One celebrating the glorious ineptitude of those of who so little is asked, and who still manage to under-deliver.

Take a look at the citation below and see if you can spot the major flaw. To assist those with detail orientation similar to the Cro-magnon who created this, I’ve circled the most relevant section in red.


You can stop rubbing your eyes. You’re seeing it correctly. This modern art masterpiece sailed by untold numbers of overpaid robocrats and even managed to slip the cross-check of the Captain General himself. But even if it were correct, the recipient’s name is crooked, as is the entire citation. So bad. I mean, if this is our idea of a “major award” … why not just fire the staff and order everyone a leg lamp instead?

The creator of this abomination had one job. S/he failed spectacularly. Whatever we’re paying the person who produced this, it’s too much. We could save this person’s salary, instead trading away a blue slushy to the nearest Crayola-wielding elementary school flunky with a sack of marbles in his pocket, and achieve the exact same effect. Truly pitiful that this would be signed and presented with a straight face to someone who earned an Air Medal defending his country … slogging through a slew of arduous combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan in a half-century-old airplane while the bungling miscreant who butchered the medal choked down bottomless skittles between karaoke bouts in an air conditioned office.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that when the hapless recipient pointed out the ragged shoddiness of this specimen and requested that it be replaced, he was informed by the cake-eating oxygen thieves at USAFCENT that nothing could be done. It was too late, they said. What they meant was “we’re too lazy.”

The real question: where was this guy’s chain of command? You don’t present a half-ass citation to one of your airmen. You go stand on the desk of the imbecile responsible for creating it and employ Mattis-like knife hands and threats of Chuck Norris-esque lethality until you emerge from the cubicle farm with prize in-hand. Or you get fired for insubordination when one of the allegedly in-charge window lickers on the staff inaccurately estimates your resolve with a hollow order to stand down, which you promptly disregard. What you don’t do is pass on this flaming bag of excrement to your people. It is beneath them. It dishonors them. What’s good enough for the chumps who reside in the nonner regions of Base X is not good enough for your people.

Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly. Medal certificates are a 100% pro forma exercise. They are symbolic. They hold future nostalgic value for those who earn them, and little else. The whole reason we do them is to give individuals a tangible representation of their achievements, so they will know we appreciate them. 

When it appears to them a certificate was crafted by someone who was either sniffing glue or picked the wrong week to stop, the gesture is hollow. Instead of taking care of people, we disappoint and perhaps alienate them.

I say pre-emptively that you can save the “in the grand scheme of things, this is no big deal” garbage for someone more tolerant of foolishness. In the grand scheme of things, the Plague was no big deal. But it was a huge deal to those stricken with bleeding pustules and liquefying organs.

This certificate is a bleeding pustule signifying the liquefying professionalism of a once-great Air Force. The Plague gripping it is a disease of apathy, slackerism, and unacceptably accepting officers who have forgotten that command and leadership are all about lifting up the human spirit. That means whipping admin weenies with a riding crop until they produce quality workmanship, and it means fighting the so-called “little” fights for your people … because you recognize advocating for what dignifies, inspires, and motivates them is never a small deal. It is, in fact, your reason to exist.

Perhaps someone who hasn’t been neutered [spayed , if you prefer] can step in and get this airman — and any others back-doored by this inebriated shoe clerk — a proper certificate. On behalf of the useless commanders who didn’t see to it this happened, I hereby insist.

Or we can just keep circling the drain.

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