The Plank-Owners' Page
of the Provisional Peoples'
Democratic Republic of Diego Garcia!
Huh? Plank-owners? What are they?
Well, its simple. The USN doesn't give its hardworking swabs medals, so they give them fancy certificates and plaques to compensate. If they were there when something was built and used for the first time, its called a "Plank Owner's Certificate" - just like back in the 1700s & 1800s when a new wooden ship was built - if you were there to build and float it, you could "claim" ownership of a plank in the ship!
That's the Navy for you - 225 years of tradition, unhindered by progress...
But to the men who received them, these have very special meaning, and, well, here are some certificates sent in by citizens of the PPDRDG... Remember, these are big deals, because when they got there, there was NOTHING but some shacks and palm trees and sand...
Here's one of the very first. Larry Kupner's Certificate from March, 1971:
Text Reads: Know Ye All These Presents Come Greeting:
WHEREAS on 9 March 1971 amid palm trees, coconuts, land and coconut crabs,
donkeys, sharks, dolphins, scorpions, and all other inhabited creatures of the island of
DIEGO GARCIA, CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO, British Indian Ocean Territory and,
WHEREAS at the aforementioned location did arrive the first of many
seabees, black-shoes, airdales, officers and others and, whereas the purpose of said
individual was the appropriate arrangement, removal, presentation of or otherwise
accommodation of PROJECT REINDEER STATION and,
WHEREAS the first major milestone consistent with and as part of
these stated goals and objectives was accomplished 18 July 1971.
TO WIT: The completion of a U. S. Navy airfield, the first in the Indian Ocean.
Be it known that BUCN LARRY S. KUPNER, USN
having participated in said project is numbered as a plankholder,
PROJECT REINDEER STATION.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that by virtue of the power vested in me I
do hereby command all to show due honor and respect to him wherever he may be.
GIVEN UNDER MY HAND AND SEAL HEREWITH. D. W. URISH, CDR, USN ISLAND COMMANDER
Here's Mike Bodi's "Golden Dragon" Certificate from 1973:
And sometimes the Navy gave out plaques. Here's Tim OBrien's from ATCU-4 from 1972:
Now, From: "Bill Rigby" <email@example.com>
Hi; I have been watching your site for some time now and will eventually get around to posting a story. Not much from MCB1 is there? I am forwarding this photo of a plaque that was made on the island for all MCB1 members who were on the fire dept. Only about 12 were made. This is a picture of mine. I drove the fire truck as well as "slaving away" in the Bravo Co. carpenter shops. I made the sign for the Britrep's hut (yes, there's a story to that one!)Will provide details when I post. Best regards and thank you for your major efforts on behalf of all who set foot on that island!
Bill Rigby (BU2 Wm. J. Rigby in the old days)
The Air Force on the other hand, doesn't give out Certificates at all. Unless you totally foul up, they give you a medal everytime you PCS. And there's a system to it: Junior Enlisted get AF Achievement Medals, E-6 through E-7 and Company Grade officers get AF Commendation Medals, E-8s & E-9s and Majors and Lt. Colonels get Meritorious Service Medals. Colonels get Legions of Merit. Flight planners in Missouri get Bronze Stars if the bombers come close to the targets over Kosovo. Predator pilots get Air Medals for flying in a box in Nevada. In other words, a lot of these medals are absolutely meaningless. I got an AFAM, AFCM, 4 MSMs, and a DMSM, and it wasn't enough to get me promoted to Lt. Col.... So, you Navy pukes, don't feel bad about only getting certificates and plaques. So, now that I've got that whining out of my system, here's my going-away medal from DG:
Beginning in October, 2001, the Air Force DID decide to start giving out certificates on DG. I guess there was less paperwork involved than writing a medal... at least they also gave you a flag to go along with it. They gave out a lot of these for ENDURING FREEDOM, and also for IRAQI FREEDOM. Here's one from November 2001:
If you have a special certificate or plaque you'd like to share with the world, send it to me and I'll see if I can fit it in...
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This, and everything else I write and every photo I produce is copyrighted by Ted A. Morris, Jr.