Saber Article Index


Mike Bodnar
13010 N. Lakeforest Dr.
Sun City, AZ 85351-3250
(623) 972-4395

Because he had contacted me in the past, I tried to email Richard Schroder for his opinion, but his wife informed me that he died of COVID-19 on November 19, 2021. What I had written in the Sep/Oct 2018 Saber was: “I received an e-mail from Richard Schroder, (MSGT, Ret., USA) RVN, 1969-1970 <> in response to the last column. He wrote: “I have just read the 15th Med/15th FSB/15th BSB article in the latest edition of the ‘Saber’ and found interesting the discussion you had with Ron Huether regarding the awarding of the Combat Medical Badge (CMB). We also had a brief discussion about this at this year’s reunion of the 15th MED Bn in Williamsburg, Virginia. I, like Ron, used to think that for a Medic to be awarded the CMB, he had to have served with a combat unit. However, I had a personal experience with this subject when I was with B Co, 15th MED Bn at FSB Buttons in Vietnam, which might shed some light on the discussion.

“In early September 1970, I was called out of formation, along with several others, and it was announced that we had been awarded the CMB. This caused some confusion for me as I knew that I had not been in ‘combat,’ so I did not understand why I would have been awarded this. I asked the OIC about this, and I do not remember what he said, if anything, at the time. However, I knew I had orders, so I never thought about it, and I proudly have it on my uniform to this day.

“After our brief discussion at the reunion and then again after reading your article, I pulled out my orders to see what the authority was. The authority was shown as Para 97 AR 672-5-1. I have never looked up that part of the AR to see what it said, but I thought that the authority might be helpful to you.”

Richard followed up with: “This is a short follow-up to the e-mail I sent to you after I read your discussion with ‘Baby Huey’ about the rewarding of the CMB to non-combatant Medics in Vietnam. As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, I have always been curious why I and eight other personnel from B Company, 15th MED Bn, including one MC and one MSC Officer, were awarded the CMB when none of us had been in actual combat. However, I recently remembered a conversation with someone (I do not remember whom) either at the rewarding of the CMB or shortly afterward that I, and I presume the others as well, had been assigned to a ‘ready reaction force.’ This was explained to me as a group of Medics and officers who would respond to injured personnel on the base if we came under an attack and the injured could not be brought to us.

“I remember that I was not even aware I was ever assigned to the ‘ready reaction force’ until after the medals were awarded. Oh well, the military can move in mysterious ways. It has been over forty years, so it matters little, but I had always wondered about it. I look forward to your next newsletter article.”

I recently found and printed in the Saber the summary of the CMB AR from the United States Army Human Resources Command, and I wanted to get Richard’s opinion about what he had said in 2018. But now I cannot because of his very unfortunate death.

One question with an answer posed and printed on the HRS CMB summary page is: “Q10: What should transpire if a Soldier was awarded a Combat Medical Badge (CMB), Combat Action Badge (CAB), or Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) and was not qualified?

A10: Commanders authorized to award combat and special action skill badges are authorized to revoke such awards when revocation conditions set forth in AR 600-8-22, paragraph 1-32 are met. When desirable, the awarding authority may refer the revocation request to USAHRC, 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, ATTN: AHRC-PDP-A, Dept 480, Fort Knox, KY 40122-5408.”

Richard appears to have been a career Army when he lists for himself: (MSGT, Ret, USA). I thought that if he felt that the CMB given to him, he mentioned, and he was not qualified- and from what I read, the AR says he and the others with him were not qualified- he could contact the USAHRC and request that CMB be revoked. Again, now I can never know what he would do because I cannot ask him.

The reason I keep bringing up the subject and why it is so important to me is because there were hundreds of combat medics in the 1st Cavalry Division who did qualify for the Combat Medical Badge according to the AR, i.e., Army Regulation. Many, many of those hundreds of 1st Cavalry combat medics were also killed in action or gravely wounded while serving with and helping infantry soldiers to lessen their misery. I think that Richard, having been a career Army, would also think that giving that award the way he, and others with him, received it was wrong. He said as much in his email in 2018.

Richard thought it was odd to be given it like that. The AR constantly says the medical personnel must be assigned or attached to medical detachments of Infantry T.O. & E., accompany them into battle, and be under fire while rendering medical care. B Co 15th Medical Battalion was not Infantry T.O. & E., and even if they were, which they were not, a ready reaction force list is not being under fire, rendering medical care.

In that one paragraph above, he mentions AR 672-5-1. That is now changed to AR 600–8–22, dated 5 March 2019. This is referenced on the HRC site, which gives an introductory warning when you access it that it is an official U.S. Government Information System.

Richard and I were both just lowly recruits who had no access to ARs in Vietnam. But we both seemed to know that you had to be in combat to be eligible. They should have had a class about the CMB at the Ft. Sam Houston Medical Training Center-MTC when we went there for AIT. So many people are ignorant of what the AR says. Ignorance is not bliss.

One of the 15th Med Air Ambulance Platoon sergeants in 1969, Gordon Russell, was a medic in WWII. I once asked him if he had a CMB. He said no. He said there was too much emphasis put on that.

Not if you were a combat medic in the infantry, rendering medical care under fire. That is precisely why that was created. It is a badge of honor, not for anyone else.

I have read the obituaries of a couple of past 15th Medical Battalion Commanders who list that they earned the CMB. That was impossible, knowing they never accompanied combatants into battle and rendered medical care to the wounded under fire. I researched their command histories, and they were never battalion surgeons in Infantry T.O.& E. Units. The 15th Medical Battalion was Medical T.O.& E.

The CMB AR says, “There was never any intention to award the CMB to all medical personnel who serve in a combat zone or imminent danger area, that is, a division-level medical company supporting a maneuver brigade. As with the CIB, the infantry unit to which the medical personnel are assigned or attached must engage the enemy in active ground combat. Since its inception, the intent of the Department of the Army regarding this requirement has been that medical personnel must be personally present and under fire to be eligible for the awarding of the badge. So stringent was this requirement during the Vietnam era that recommending officials were required to document the place (in six-digit coordinates), time, type, and intensity of fire to which the proposed recipient was exposed. This fact naturally precludes the awarding of the badge to those medical personnel who accompany infantry units into a potential engagement area but do not come under enemy fire. Over the years, there has been some confusion concerning the phrase “ direct support of an infantry unit...” The CMB is intended for, and awarded to, those medical personnel who accompany the infantry soldier into combat. The Army has never approved of deviations from this purpose and its restrictive criteria.”

Richard, in his email to me back in 2018, rationalized what was happening around him concerning no adherence to the AR awarding of the CMB, “The military can move in mysterious ways.” It can if it is not appropriately supervised. He had to accept what was happening.

I emailed the United States Army Human Resources Command twice over the last year to ask them how those who deviated from the AR could claim authority, but I never heard back from them. Army regulation has not changed since WWII, except it was amended in 1991 to include armored cavalry medics and again as recently as 2001 to include the other combat arms medics. The rules are the same: the medic must be assigned to those combat units, accompany the unit members into battle, and render medical care to their wounded under fire. Their companion badge, like the CIB for infantry medics, is the CAB-Combat Action Badge.

The last job I had in the U.S. Army after I got back from Vietnam was at the USAMFSS-United States Army Medical Field Service School at Ft. Sam Houston, TX. I was drafted as a clerk for its Command Sergeant Major. Instead of bringing in our reading materials for when things got slow, he told us to read ARs, of which his office had them all. He valued those because that is how he brought down the law on all the G.I.s sent to his office.

CSM Robinson wore the 173rd Airborne Brigade patch on his right shoulder, and he also wore the Combat Medical Badge. He had the same complexion and stature as the 15th Medical Battalion’s past battalion commander 1968- 1969, Guthrie L. Turner. Both were tall U.S. Army paratroopers. The former a Command Sergeant Major, and the latter retired as a Brigadier General.

B.G. (Ret.) Turner, as battalion commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 15th Medical Battalion, did as much, if not more, than anyone else in that command, and yet his obituary does not list him earning the Combat Medical Badge. There is no photo of him in uniform wearing the CMB. That would mean that being the 1st Cavalry Division Surgeon and 15th Medical Battalion Commander, who he was, did not automatically receive the CMB. Only the Army Regulation defines who is eligible.

Always remembering our 1st Cav Troops on duty around the world; over and out.

FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Mike Bodnar 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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