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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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
https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/Combat%20Medical%20Badge%20CMB, 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
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 “...in 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
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE