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Thread: Arctic "A" Device

  1. #1

    Arctic "A" Device

    About the Arctic "A" Device (from the AF Personnel Center "Fact Sheet" description):

    A metallic, bronze, letter "A" worn centered on the Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short Tour will be awarded to Air Force active, Reserve and Guard personnel serving on or after Feb. 10, 2002, who are credited with completion of a short Air Force overseas tour north of the Arctic Circle, regardless of date of tour completion. Thule Air Base, Greenland, qualifies for this device. When worn with oak leaf clusters, place the "A" device to the wearer's right of the clusters. Wear only one "A" device on the ribbon. Do not use to represent subsequent awards.

    That's great, except for one thing: THE RIBBON UPON WHICH THE "A" DEVICE IS WORN--the AF Overseas Ribbon Short Tour (AFORST)--HAS BEEN PART OF THE UNIFORM SINCE 12 OCTOBER 1980.

    Before 6 January 1986, the AFORST was awarded to AF and AFRes members credited with completion of an overseas tour ON OR AFTER 1 SEPTEMBER 1980.

    Additionally, AF and AFRes members serving as of 6 January 1986 or later are entitled to reflect ALL AF OVERSEAS TOURS CREDITED DURING THEIR CAREER.

    What I wish USAF would do is this: MAKE WEAR OF THE "A" DEVICE RETROACTIVE, TO THE SAME EXTENT AS THE AFORST.

    After all, the Arctic "A" Device WAS NEVER INTENDED to recognize ONLY AF personnel WHO SERVED AT THULE--OR WAS IT??

    I wouldn't expect USAF to present, or even GIVE, an "A" Device to everyone who served "above the Arctic Circle" between 1980-2002 (that would cost far too much money...I guess).

    BUT I WOULD ASK USAF TO AUTHORIZE WEAR OF THE "A" DEVICE TO ALL WHO ACTUALLY SERVED "ABOVE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE," NOT JUST THE "SELECT FEW" AT THULE AFB.

    I do not think this rationale is unreasonable. On the contrary, I believe it is FAIR--FAIR, to a number of personnel who warrant recognition for service and sacrifice in the Arctic. To me, it is a shame DEW Line people can't share in the recognition. Did they not also serve and sacrifice?

    Even more in the way of justification: Navy Arctic Service Ribbon--established May 1986, made retroactive to January 1982. Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal--established May 1976. Antarctic Service Medal--established July 1960, made retroactive to January 1946!

    I doubt CSAF will ever read this. Would CSAF even consider changing it?

    I just can't help thinking that THE ONLY THING someone in the Pentagon CARED about when they created the "A" Device, was RECOGNIZING THULE. And unfortunately, THAT speaks to THE SHAME of our so-called "USAF Recognition Program" of today.

    I hope this made sense. In the "grand scheme of things," to many service members it seems like a very insignificant point; and maybe it is. But I believe "A" Device recognition would mean a great deal to the USAF personnel who "served above the Arctic Circle" from 1980-2002. Even though I have been retired many years, recognition added proudly to my retired decorations means the world to me.

    Even if nothing ever comes of it, at least I got this matter off my chest. I served "above the Arctic Circle" and I wear the AFORST--it would be an honor if I could add the "A" Device to my AFORST, too. Thanks for reading (and I apologize for ranting).

  2. #2
    Administrator Mjölnir's Avatar
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    Have you tried writing a letter to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force; I would guess the majority of people that could be impacted are (prior) enlisted Airmen ... it would be in his lane.

    CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright
    Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
    1670 Air Force Pentagon
    Washington, DC 20330-1670
    The most important six inches on the battlefield ... is between your ears.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bos Mutus's Avatar
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    Seems reasonable.

    I was TDY to Thule for a couple weeks...spending a year there or other like assignment deserves something!!
    The Voice of Reason

  4. #4
    Mjölnir and Bos Mutus, thank you both for your responses. I would be THRILLED to see USAF change the eligibility for the Arctic "A" Device. I've gone over this a hundred times in my mind, trying to imagine how making the Arctic "A" Device retroactive (same as AFORST) could possibly "harm" the Awards and Decorations Program. I can think of no reason at all; I wish I knew CSAF's rationale for creating the device NOT retroactive.

    I view these "symbols of service" very seriously. Every ribbon and every device I've earned holds a special significance in my career. Aside from my DMSM (earned with the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff when I was an E-5), that Arctic "A" Device would definitely be my second-most-prized award.

    It would be real easy to tell the curious, "That ribbon represents my one-year remote tour in Alaska!"

    But I would much rather say, "The 'A' Device on that ribbon represents my one-year remote tour in Alaska, 160 miles north of the Arctic Circle!"

    I'll try writing Chief Wright; but I suspect "The Powers That Be" won't be thrilled to even read a request of this nature. But, who knows. In any event, thank you both again.

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    Administrator Mjölnir's Avatar
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    Good luck, you may also look into the Air Force Association to try and get some leverage / momentum. As I see it, it wouldn't really 'cost' the USAF anything ... I don't know if they 'award' the devices or just authorize them for wear and recipients buy at their own cost (that is how the USN does it).

    I froze my butt of a long time ago in Norway when I was in the Marines for about 40 days ... qualified for the Arctic Service Ribbon ... living up there for a year ... whoa
    The most important six inches on the battlefield ... is between your ears.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bos Mutus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctic Circle Service Vet View Post
    I'll try writing Chief Wright; but I suspect "The Powers That Be" won't be thrilled to even read a request of this nature. But, who knows. In any event, thank you both again.
    I don't know why they wouldn't be thrilled...seems like an easy win for leadership and no losers.

    From what I've seen of Chief Wright, he is quite the man of the people and seems to do a lot of stuff like this.
    The Voice of Reason

  7. #7
    Mjölnir and Bos Mutus, I want to thank you both again for the great advice and words of encouragement. Mjölnir, congrats on your Arctic service accomplishment; even 40 days had to be a neat deployment (assuming you enjoyed it). Some people absolutely hated working in the Arctic, others (like me) loved the experience.

    I'll never forget staying up until 0300 just to watch the awesome northern lights; choppering out with BLM onto the ice pack to tag polar bears; seeing the occasional musk ox, caribou, and Arctic fox forage near the site; or even a leisurely stroll along the shoreline under a "midnight Sun." Having great military people assigned along with outstanding civilian support made the tour that much more enjoyable. Sure, there was occasional stress (pack 60-plus complete strangers into a 300' x 300' box, apply heat, mix well, all while striving to do your job to the best of your ability; then wait and see what happens). But all told, AK was one of my best assignments.

    Back to present. Thanks again to both of you for the encouragement. I will do a little more soul-searching before writing Chief Wright. For one, is the additional recognition worth the hours of extra work it would require? Also (and worse), am I way too self-indulgent about the whole thing? I do need to think some more, before I open another can of worms (I found myself doing just that when I was active duty, too many times).

    I also appreciate the luck! Thanks!!
    Last edited by Arctic Circle Service Vet; 01-29-2019 at 11:51 PM.

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    Senior Member Rainmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bos Mutus View Post

    From what I've seen of Chief Wright, he is quite the man of the people and seems to do a lot of stuff like this.
    The cucks over on reddit Airforce love the guy.

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    Senior Member Rainmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctic Circle Service Vet View Post
    is the additional recognition worth the hours of extra work it would require? Also (and worse), am I way too self-indulgent about the whole thing? I do need to think some more,
    Well You do seem to be a little emotionally invested over a device on a ribbon....That said, sounds like a unique tour & thanks for your service..
    Last edited by Rainmaker; 02-06-2019 at 01:32 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Rainmaker View Post
    Well You do seem to be a little emotionally invested over a device on a ribbon....That said, sounds like a unique tour & thanks for your service..
    Rainmaker, thank you, service was my privilege. Yes, I am emotionally invested as you say: I believe the Arctic "A" Device's wear date eligibility should coincide with the AFORST's wear date eligibility. The geographic location criteria--above the Arctic Circle--is a different bailiwick entirely; it should therefore never have been "connected" to the wear date criteria.

    I'm proud of my WWII father's decorations, too (I'm in the midst of trying to get both his and my DD214s corrected of errors). All that stuff we hear about "The Greatest Generation"--all true. And when I finally looked through his Mil Pers File from NPRC, I could see just how much he loved the service.

    I guess that's what being "emotionally invested" does to a person, at least in my case.

    Thanks for your comments!

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