View Full Version : Marines Say Hagee's Service Ribbon Mix-Up Not Unique

01-10-03, 06:44 AM
European Stars and Stripes

January 9, 2003

Marines Say Hagee's Service Ribbon Mix-Up Not Unique

By Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes

ARLINGTON, Va. - For seven of the last eight years, Gunnery Sgt. Jody
Thawley rated the Navy Commendation Award.

He just didn't know it.

The Marine Corps' archaic record-keeping is getting some long-deserved
attention, the Military Police Marine said, after commandant-to-be Lt. Gen.
Michael Hagee faced controversy over ribbons he wore that had no

Though Hagee, who gets his fourth star Monday when he takes command, stopped
wearing the ribbons, he says he is confident he earned them and will
continue a search paper records to prove it.

Meantime, he plans to improve the Corps' outdated system after assuming his
new leadership role Monday.

"We have a system that needs to be worked on, and when I become commandant,
that is one of the things I'll do. Obviously, we need to make it more
user-friendly," Hagee said.

Marines' Official Military Personnel Files are kept on microfilm at
headquarters in Arlington, Va. The OMPF listings are not computerized,
unlike the Electronic Relational Database, set up in 1999 to provide a
computerized database for Marines.

However, those two record-keeping systems don't always match, said several
Marines interviewed.

Master Sgt. William Hanrahan said he knows firsthand.

He's been fighting for years to have the computerized system, which Marines
simply call "the 3270,"reflect his OMPF - and it's a battle he says he's
still losing.

"We have annual audits and I've brought this up and I've asked and asked the
admin Marines to take care of it. I've been told they can no longer go in
and change the old records. I'm kind of an anal guy and I like things to be
accurate. ... But it's forever there and I'll be forever irritated."

As a third avenue, Marines also can check their personnel files, which
includes information such as retirement funds, pay stubs, and which awards
they rate, by registering on the Corps' Marines Online Web site at
www.mol.com. The site includes the 3270.

The computerized system record shows Hanrahan's earned seven Navy/Marine
Corps achievement medals and one Navy/Marine Corps commendation medal. In
reality, he has three achievement medals and two commendation medals, he
said. And that doesn't include discrepancies with marksmanship scores, he

"The burden is on the individual Marine to come back with the OMPF and try
to correct inaccuracies in the official file," said Hanrahan, a Marine
recruiter with 22 years in uniform, both active duty and Reserve. "And this
happens all the time, particularly to senior Marines."

Staff Sgt. Marvin Stolf, who works in Administration at Henderson Hall in
Arlington, Va., said Marines new to the Corps experience fewer problems,
especially those diligent in keeping track of their own career.

"The Corps puts out announcements, telling units what award they rate and
when," said Stolf, 36, a Marine for 17 years. "They make it pretty easy to
keep up with."

That is, if you have regular access to a computer, Sgt. Carlos Vazquez and
Lance Cpl. Jason Eustice said.

Unit citations are typically awarded a year after a deployment - "a year and
two and three units later," said Vazquez, 21, active duty for 3〓 years.
"It's hard to keep track of that. To go back and figure out where the old
unit was and whether you rate the award."

Until October 1999, the only awards entered into the electronic database
were personal awards issued by the United States, said Hagee, who himself
received a tutorial on the system for Tuesday's press briefing.

"All the others are noted in your record book, which was kept at the company
or battalion office and documentation for those awards was sent to
Headquarters Marine Corps to be filed in a paper file."

The documented paper database and the electronic relation database "don't
talk to one another," Hagee said. "The individual Marine is responsible for
ensuring that those the two databases are both accurate, even though they
are supposed to contain the same information."

Hagee publicly apologized Tuesday for the lapse - a slip most Marines
interviewed said is forgivable.

Hagee said he removed the decorations of his own volition when it came time
to he be photographed for his official commandant photo because he could not
track down paper documentation for the three ribbons.

"You'd think a three-star [general] would know better, but that's more
telling of our system than him," Stolf said.

One Marine wasn't so quick to gloss over the issue.

"You're responsible, as an individual. It's that simple," said Sgt. Alex
Mateo, a Marine of eight years. "He should know what ribbons he does and
does not rate. But he did the right thing until he can prove it."

01-10-03, 09:12 AM
the link is somekind of online MALL.

Is that right, or is the addy wrong ??

Would like to check in on records. I may rate 1 or 2 that I don't show off. :marine:


01-10-03, 09:34 AM
Dunno about the Link....

I got this e-mail from Milinet this morning--apparently Maj Milavic got it from S&S....???


01-10-03, 10:54 AM
Thanks Gunny.

I just spent the best part of an hour discussing this with the 1stSgt and Major at my local I&I Unit - along with a couple of other 'pressing issues'. Apparently, there are Marines out there that do use their heads when responding to issues like this, which I feel - lend great creedence to the individual leading them. I have always felt that the 'Leadership by Example' trait is possibly the most defining characteristic, outside of Integrity.

Once more information has surfaced, yes, I think the Commandant-select displayed his Integrity in the highest manner. Yet, it still leaves the issue - he should and should not know what he rates.

Maybe he and Senator Warner - being a Marine himself... can actually DO something about the system that has plagued Marine S-1 clerks, and Honorable Jarheads for decades.

If ya never noticed, the sh itbirds ALWAYS got their entries correct and entered in a timely manner.

Semper FI