A voluntary program in Idaho for residents to raise funds and work with the maker of Buck brand name knives to honor veterans returning from the defense of the U.S. apparently has been torpedoed by military administrative rules regarding the value of gifts.
And the command wasn’t sitting well with both members and leaders of the community near Post Falls, where Buck has its corporate headquarters.
“Who’s in charge here anyway? Dumb and Dumber?” asked “davenjan” on a forum page in the Coeur d’Alene Press.
Clay Larkin, the Post Falls mayor, said the decision was senseless.
“I would like to know what top-ranking brass made this decision, and I will personally call them and share my thoughts!” he told the newspaper.
The program was launched about three years ago as Graham Crutchfield, a retired Marine, organized the plan to raise money from individuals, service clubs and businesses and work with the company on the commemorative knife program.
More than 500 veterans from the region, including those wounded in combat, have been given the knives since 2005, officials said. They also have been presented to family members of those killed in action.
But then, the newspaper reported, an unidentified senior Navy officer told Troy Gilbert, a member of a Hayden, Idaho-based Mobile Construction Battalion, since the value of the knives was more than $20, members of the military were banned from accepting them, the newspaper said.
Members of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s staff in nearby Washington state deferred a WND request for comment to the Washington headquarters. Officials there did not return messages requesting a comment.
But the Post Falls mayor was more than a little upset.
“I cannot believe what I read this morning about the Navy balking at their seamen receiving a gift from their communities for their service. Where has reality gone?” he said.
“I was in on the first Buck Knife giveaway for the 116th, Charlie Co. National Guard when they came back from Iraq,” he continued. “Graham Crutchfield helped me on the fundraising. The looks on their faces when we presented the knives were priceless. Buck Knives employees have come forward and been a major supporter of the project, and I thank them for their involvement!”
He noted an “interesting part” of the argument is that two generals already have been given – and accepted – the knives, “and never has anyone questioned the presentation or the gift for their service,” he said.
Paul Abschier, a World War II vet, told the newspaper. “It’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard of. They’ve put their lives on the line and they can’t receive a knife?”
“As a retired lieutenant colonel judge advocate general Army Reserve officer, it is my opinion that gifts exceeding a monetary value of $20 may be kept if they are for meritorious service or achievement,” said Kootenai County prosecutor Bill Douglas. “Combat service in Iraq or Afghanistan would certainly fit this criteria.”
On the newspaper forum, “Former Ranger,” said, “This is utterly ridiculous. When did common sense leave those who are in charge?”
“I still can’t believe any service would do such a thing,” Crutchfield said. “Megan McClung was a Marine and Annapolis graduate who was killed in Iraq. We gave her parents a knife. Are we saying her life is only worth $20?”
Officials with the knife company did not respond to WND requests for comment.
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