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We are nearing the end of our deployment, and the administrative process for requesting awards for deserving Soldiers and Airmen has been completed. (The goal is to recognize servicemembers with decorations before they return home.)
Some awards are less “glamorous” than others. For example, there are some awards that we earn simply for serving in the country for a certain period of time, even if we are not in grave danger.
But, there are other decorations that are only given once specific criteria is met. These are usually the higher, more glamorous awards that involve the servicemember being in more danger than usual.
The Army Combat Action Badge and the Air Force Combat Action Medal are two such awards.
In order for someone to earn one of these awards, (notice I said “earn” not “win” … It’s not a lottery or game show,) the servicemember had to have some type of contact with the enemy. They may have either been fired upon by insurgents, or they could have fired at them. They might have been involved in an IED incident or survived a rocket attack. There are multiple scenarios, but the point is, to earn a combat-related badge or medal, the servicemember is expected to have experienced some form of combat.
In our case, it was our firefight with insurgents on 28 September of last year. Looking back on it, it’s easy to say it was no big deal. They shot at us, we shot back.
But at the time, I must admit I was wondering how it would play out. And the result is: fingers and toes are still in tact. But, now, the awarding of the Combat Action Badge provides a reminder of that day.
Soldiers from our PRT were notified that they were awarded the badge, but it’s not official until a commissioned officer presents the award … I was honored when the Soldiers asked me (an Air Force Captain,) to present the Army awards.
We held a quick ceremony at Bagram in the middle of a mission from there to Morales-Frazier. I’ve presided over ceremonies before, but this was my first “combat” ceremony. It was night time, with a slight breeze making the air chilly … The sounds of C-17s could be heard flying overhead … No bands, no high-ranking Generals … just some Infantry Soldiers and an Air Force Public Affairs Officer recognizing them for their bravery.