Say It Ain’t So Joe

by lewwaters

I thought this matter was settled and behind us. Apparently not.

You may recall not too long ago, both this blog and Clark County Politics took County Commission candidate Joe Tanner to task over questionable claims of “numerous combat medals” in his campaign literature. We were accused by Tanner, according to Stephanie Rice at the Columbian, of having political motivations. In reality, the motivation was Veteran to Veteran, all 3 of us being Veterans of the Military, Joe and myself being actual Vietnam Veterans, Kelly Hinton serving in the Army in Europe as he enlisted towards the end of our involvement there.

While I was an Army Helicopter Crew Chief / Technician on first the OH-6 then transitioning to the OH-58 after Vietnam in Germany, Joe Tanner served in the US Navy as an Electronics Technician from 1966 to 1970 and was aboard the USS Providence, a Cleveland-class light cruiser that was converted to a guided missile cruiser.

As I showed here, Joe’s service was honorable and without anything untoward, evidenced by his receiving an Honorable Discharge.

But, as we first questioned, what Joe did receive in the way of medals and awards were not “combat related” and instead were for meritorious achievement. Such medals and awards, even though not combat related, are nothing to be ashamed of. Many have served and never even received those.

Both of our blogs raised the question and my some manner of fate, Joe, in responding to a request from me for clarification, invited me to lunch where we discussed the claim. He agreed to change the wording to “meritorious” from “combat” in order to not mislead anybody as his opponent, Tom Mielke actually did receive a Bronze Star with ‘V’ for Valor, a true “combat medal.”

Since that meeting, both Kelly and I have enjoyed more lunch meetings with Joe, discussing politics, old times, our different Military Experiences, you name it. We felt the erroneous claim of “numerous combat medals” was gone and behind us.

It doesn’t please me to now see that what Joe Tanner has submitted as his candidate statement includes the claim, “decorated Vietnam veteran.”

“CVTV footage, obtained pursuant to the Public Disclosure Act, in no way is intended by CVTV, the City of Vancouver, or Clark County to either promote or oppose any candidate for public office or any ballot proposition.”

While technically, any award received might qualify as “decorated,” reading it together with “Vietnam Veteran” also implies combat duty and/or combat medals, taking us right back to square one, the misleading claim we first noticed.

Tanner was awarded (1) Viet Nam Service Medal (6 bronze stars, each indicating at least a portion of a 6 month campaign, one day qualifying for a star); (2) Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal; (3) National Defense Service Medal; (4) Armed Forces Expeditionary Metal; and (5) Navy Unit Commendation Medal.

All are basically the same anybody serving then received regardless of whether or not they were ever shot at or saw the enemy. But again, not one is “combat related.”

Tom Mielke would have received pretty much the same, although not as many campaign stars unless he spent more than the required one tour, the overall majority of Vietnam Veterans completing their tour and rotating back home. Except, the Bronze Star Tom Mielke received is not a campaign star, but the actual Bronze Star medal with the attached ‘V’ indicating valor in combat, as he served with the 82nd Airborne while in Vietnam.

Tom does not boast of his medals to equate himself to other candidates, he stands on his values and his views. If we are to consider actual “Combat Medals” as qualification for County Commissioner, Tom wins automatically.

I like Joe Tanner after sitting down him with the few times I have. He says he is a conservative Democrat, like old time Democrats once were. But that leaves me to wonder why he would oppose and try to unseat the only real conservative now sitting on the County Commission, Tom Mielke.

Likewise, I fail to see or hear the words spoken to me in person by Joe about how he has nothing against Tom Mielke when he spoke before the Clark County Democrat convention on Apr 28, 2012.

While I prefer conservative candidates to vote for, I’m not seeing much of a conservative viewpoint in his speech.

Along with conservatism, I want a candidate with integrity. And by that I mean someone is up front and does not try to build a false or misleading image of themselves to equal another.

I am very disappointed that Joe chose to make this claim as he did. It is misleading and I do not appreciate seeing him doing it after I thought this was all settled.

I understand Joe wants to seat pretty bad. But if he must rely on making misleading Military claims to try to earn votes, I’ll stick with the known candidate who actually did serve in combat, Tom Mielke.

Sorry Joe, but such actions just come across as too Liberal for me.

9 Comments to “Say It Ain’t So Joe”

  1. This again Lew?? You made your point the last time you went off on this subject, and I think you’re really stretching things now, although you aren’t trashing the other services this time. I realize this is one of your favorite subjects but there’s one hell of a lot more going on in Clark County than this Lew and it is not helpful to manufacture distractions like this one.

    You frequently astound me Lew with the things you choose to blog about, and the other things you completely ignore or are so irregular about commenting on here as to make this place just about irrelevant to what actually goes on in Clark County. You comment extensively about Tim Leavitt and what the City does or does not do, but you’re not even a resident of the City of Vancouver, are you Lew?

    I know you enjoy a comfy relationship with and love romping over at the columbian’s website, and Victoria Taft seems to think you’re the “Conservative” voice of Clark County; but your website is anything but Conservative, and it has so little to do with what is actually going on in Clark County that you really need to change the name of this place; and yes, you have heard that recommendation for me more than once. I’m beginning to believe you enjoy your supposed celebrity a lot more than you do making any meaningful comment on issues that really matter.

    Yes KJ, this article is sad. Very, very sad.


  2. Yes Bob, “this again.” As I said, we had this settled and it’s Joe who chose to make the claim in his voter pamphlet statement, not me.

    Where you get that I “trashed the other services” confounds me. Trying to explain the differences in each branch on how we serve is not “trashing.”

    Nobody has trashed anybodies service. But trying to equate meritorious awards to actual combat awards in an effort to steal a few votes from your opponent is okay in your book?

    That I am not within in the city limits is irrelevant, Bob. What Leavitt and the city council do still has an effect on me in Hazel Dell and I am not permitted to vote for mayor or city council. But Leavitt gladly accepted my endorsement and support when he ran for mayor.

    As I have said before, Bob, if my blog displeases you so much, please reopen your own and do it as you please. If, for whatever reason you may have, do not wish to reopen your own blog to express the views you want, don’t complain about others.

    When you begin paying my bills, then maybe you can direct what I do. But not until.


  3. I don’t see it. I admit that this isn’t really my argument because I didn’t serve in the Armed Forces, but I fail to see the difference you’re attempting to prove. He served in the Vietnam theatre, he was decorated, he was honorably discharged. What’s the problem?

    I met with Joe for lunch a couple of weeks ago. He seems like a pretty straight shooter to me.


  4. Craig, as I have said, stating “decorated Vietnam veteran” insinuates combat experience.

    I’ve met with Joe 3 times now and sat with him at the Memorial Day Ceremony. I like Joe but I am disappointed that he makes this claim as he did after we went through all of this just a few weeks ago and he agreed the earlier claim was misleading and corrected it.

    I’ll refer you to the current case of America’s Got Talent contestant, Sgt. Timothy Poe who told a heart wrenching tale of combat experience causing his stuttering and the outpouring from those who served with him saying none of it is true.

    He too served in Afghanistan, but as a Supply Sergeant, not a combat soldier. He lied to score points even though he is a very talented singer.

    Check the 3 links I posted above for his story.

    Should he receive a pass just because he actually was in theater for a short period?

    Those who did not serve may not fully understand this, but it is a cause of concern amongst most of us who did.

    Had Joe just said he was a “Vietnam Veteran,” there would be no controversy.


  5. Actually I see your point now. If I didn’t already know the back story on this and read “decorated Vietnam veteran” on his website or somewhere else, I WOULD assume that he was a combat veteran.


  6. I don’t think you’re correct about this Lew. As you point out he is technically a decorated Vietnam veteran. However the real question is, what is the common usage and understanding of the phrase.

    If you google (in quotes) “decorated Vietnam veteran” you get about 250,000 hits. On the other hand, if you google (again in quotes) “decorated Vietnam combat veteran” you get around 60,000 hits. That tells me that at least 60,000 posters (and maybe as many as 250,000) believe that the two are not the same thing, and it shows that “decorated Vietnam veteran” doesn’t necessarily imply combat.


  7. That is a play on words, Tom. Don’t forget, Joe and I had this discussion before and he admitted his claim was misleading and corrected the listing of “numerous combat medals” to the correct “meritorious achievement awards and medals.”

    He knows this is a sensitive area for us and regardless of what you feel google shows, the use of the word “decorated” does give meaning.

    What is a decorated veteran? “A decorated veteran is anyone who received what are referred to as “personal decorations” for something they personally did.”

    That is a fairly loose definition, but more accurate. My Vietnam Campaign, Vietnam Service and National Defense Ribbons are not “personal decorations.” They are Service Ribbons, even with the 4 service stars I am entitled to wear on my Vietnam Service Ribbon.

    The Good Conduct Medals, Army Commendation Medals and Air Medals are personal medals, but also are not “combat” medals like Tom Mielke’s Bronze Star with ‘V’ device denoting Valor in combat.


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