Upon completion of the 1986 Tattoo at the Taj season there were over 250 Achievement Medals awarded.
For pilots, you had to have flown in 3 of the 5 programs. Or performed operational support duties specifically related to the Tattoo mission. I think for the 1986 season over 250 medals were awarded!
In the Spring of 1987 I was selected to be the Squadron Commander of the 12th Student Squadron. Although the 12th was a “flying squadron” in the Wing, our primary responsibility was for student academics and administration.
When I assumed command I found a “nest” of IPs who thought they would just coast out their careers at Randolph with “cushy” desk jobs. Well, that was going to change! I wanted a cadre of aviators first, who just happened to teach academics every now and then! So I lobbied at the Ops staff meeting to get a couple “seats” in the jets for “my guys” to fly in the Tattoo at The Taj season. They gave me 1 T-38 and 1 T-37. Cool beans!
I then selected the crews and everything was cool… until the season was over.
Thinking my guys would be receiving Achievement Medals for their participation, I kept a close eye on everything. When the award order was subsequently released, only 2 IPs received Achievement Awards that season! The T-37 and the T-38 observation pilots! YGBSM! None of the actual ‘flying’ pilots! You can just imagine how “on fire” I was when I learned that 6 bus drivers received Achievement Medals that year!
I then approached our ADO (Assistant Director of Operations) with the issue. He in turn, told me that it was felt that too many awards had been awarded in 1986, and it was decided to limit the awards in 1987. I mentioned the observation pilots and bus drivers receiving awards, but my argument fell on deaf ears. He just did not have it in him to take my argument a “higher authority.”
(Our ADO at the time, was a “careerist.” He couldn’t stand to have anyone in his chain of command make a mistake – especially if it was a mistake that “might” make him look bad! So, there was no way he would go back to the Wing Commander at the time to “revisit” the issue. He must have had the right idea – he retired as a 4-star! And my guys went without Achievement Medals….)