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IRAQ MEDALS FOR UK TROOPS AND CIVILIANS WHO SERVED IN IRAQ DURING GWII

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Local man selling Iraq Commitment Medals

Bryan Richardson brichardson@themercury.com 12 hrs ago

Iraq Commitment Medal

The front of an Iraq Commitment Medal. In 2011, the Iraq government created the medal for all U.S. and coalition troops who served during the Iraq War from 2003 to 2011. However, the Iraq government hasn’t manufactured the medals.

 

The new year has already brought joy to one local man.

Leonard Le Blanc is selling 1,500 Iraq Commitment Medals through his eBay store, SEATE Services, that commemorate those who served in the Iraq War.

 

Le Blanc, who worked two stints as a civilian contractor in Iraq in 2003-04 and 2005-06, said he secured a license from the Iraq government to produce the medals.

 

“Part of the problem is people don’t know about this,” he said. “It popped up in 2011 and then disappeared. A lot of people have no idea about this.”

 

In 2011, the Iraq government created the Iraq Commitment Medal for all U.S. and coalition troops who served during the Iraq War from 2003 to 2011. Officials said an estimated 1 million medals would be needed to fulfill the need.

 

However, the Iraq government never made the medals for mass distribution with only a single award given to then-Vice President Joe Biden on Dec. 1, 2011.

 

In August, Stars and Stripes reported that the Pentagon said the medals are the responsibility of the Iraq government.

 

“Traditionally when a foreign government authorizes a medal, that government provides the medal to eligible members as the medal is a foreign decoration, not a Department of Defense decoration,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “At this time, the Department of Defense has not received any (commitment medals) from the Government of Iraq to approve or distribute.”

 

However, there have been unofficial medals floating around.

 

Le Blanc, who received a bachelor’s degree in geography from K-State in 1973, said he was looking for medals on eBay in February when he found an Iraq Commitment Medal that someone was selling.

 

 

“It disappeared and sold out,” he said. “This guy had 50.”

 

While Le Blanc’s plan won’t fulfill the Defense Department’s requirement, it does provide an opportunity for those who want a medal. He is selling the medals for $20 plus shipping, and the medal plus an award certificate for $31.50.

 

“There will always be people who will not get issued a medal, but who want one,” Le Blanc said. “Museums, ribbon collectors, medals collectors, patriotic organizations.”

 

Le Blanc said he has an American intermediary who had “done business” with the Iraq government. “He was able to secure that for me,” he said.

 

Le Blanc said he told the Chinese manufacturer he’s working with to follow the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry’s standards when making the medals.

 

If things go well, he said he would make an additional 5,000 medals — both military and civilian versions.

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Interesting.  I looked up this medal and there were a number of US 'military' web sites - unofficial, run by vets and so on - which mention that the medal was created in 2011 but has not yet been supplied by the Iraqi gov't to the US gov't for issue.  Wikipedia says this, which is an interesting twist on the issue:

"To this day, the award has still not been approved for wear for United States Iraq War Veterans. In 2013, the Department of Defense made a statement that it is still waiting for the initial group of medals to be received from the Government of Iraq.[3] A single award was presented to Vice President Joe Biden on Dec 1st, 2011" [emphasis added by me]

So, the gent selling them is either performing a useful service for Gulf War veterans or profiting from the failure of the Iraqi government to follow up on it's plans.  Or both.  I say this only because there is now a minor industry of private companies creating and selling medals and awards which various governments chose not to issue or never got around to.  I'm thinking of the D-Day Medal in particular.  No slight at all on the brave men and women who would have earned it if the Commonwealth had created one, but it seems to me that creating awards devalues the official ones. 

This is a different case, obviously, as this was created by an official government and an ally of those countries whose service personnel qualify but a bit odd nonetheless.

Peter

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