LANGLY, Va. — On Wednesday, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the creation of the Outstanding Warfare Medal, an award for members of the military who exhibit bravery via use of information and technology skills. The Pentagon has chosen Hudson Valley-based desktop support specialist Roy Zornow, 49, to be the first ever recipient of the Outstanding Warfare Medal.
Acknowledging criticism of his actual role in combat operations, Zornow said, “Like any active member of the military, I’m worried about my commute; I don’t know when I’ll get to see my wife next—sometimes we’re working until 10, 11 o’clock at night; and I don’t know where I’m going to be sent next. I could be going to the fifth floor for all I know.”
“The fifth floor’s wireless router was given to us by our cable and Internet provider. It can be a nightmare,” Zornow added, his shirt, pants and general mouth area all exhibiting signs of a bad encounter with a Keurig coffee maker.
Much like the Distinguished Warfare Medal, a combat medal for personnel such as drone operators created this month, the Outstanding Warfare Medal doesn’t require one’s life to be at risk from warfare-related injuries.
“As combat changes, modern tools such as desktop computers, laptop computers and tablets have become increasingly vital,” said Panetta. “The people who manage these devices, who find our cursors when they disappear, who accept end-user license agreements on our behalf, they are changing the course of battle.
Online, incensed commenters are calling the Distinguished Warfare Medal the “Geek Cross” and the Outstanding Warfare Medal the “Papa John’s Star.” Veterans in particular are criticizing the decision to give a combat medal to a man whose main accomplishment was deciding against upgrading to Windows 8. However, retired Sgt. Daniel Horner favors the move by the Pentagon to recognize these individuals with medals higher in the military’s order of precedence than the Purple Heart.
“This isn’t a slap in the face to those of us who have served honorably while risking our lives,” said Horner. “There’s enough pats on the back to go around, and this decision shows that getting wounded is only marginally less worthy of distinction than making sure everyone in the office has the Wi-Fi password.”