Capt. Timothy Brooke
STAUNTON, Va., - A long awaited day finally came in a gymnasium at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton for 20 Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers that deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Soldiers received the Combat Action Badge, one of the most recent awards approved by the Department of the Army, in recognition of their individual efforts during a deployment to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry, Virginia Army National Guard from July 2004 through September 2005.
With family and friends watching the ceremony, Col. James M. Harris, commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, stated that “during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom there is no such thing as a non-combat soldier. There are no safe havens, no rear areas, every morning these soldiers woke up in a combat zone, they endured rocket attacks, small arms fire and IEDs. This drives home the fact that we must always train for the worst case scenarios. That is exactly what these soldiers did and it is with great pride and honor that we bestow on them today the combat action badge for their outstanding service and duty to Commonwealth and country.”
Maj. Gen. Arthur Wyman, commander of the 29th Infantry Division, described the Combat Action Badge to all in attendance relating the symbols of the badge to the virtues demonstrated by the Soldiers receiving the award. Following his comments, Wyman awarded each Soldier the coveted Combat Action Badge.
The ceremony ended with a prayer from the brigade chaplain Maj. Edward Barnett.
The Army Chief of Staff approved the creation of the Combat Action Badge on May 2, 2005 to provide special recognition to Soldiers who personally engage, or are engaged by the enemy during combat operations. The badge is described as silver in color, two inches in width overall, consisting of an oak wreath supporting a rectangle bearing a bayonet surmounting a grenade. Stars are added at the top to indicate subsequent awards; one star for the second award, two stars for the third award and three stars for the fourth award. The symbols of the badge are in keeping with the spirit of the Warrior Ethos. The bayonet and grenade are associated with active combat. The oak wreath symbolizes strength and loyalty.
The Combat Action Badge may be awarded by any commander delegated authority by the Secretary of the Army during wartime or the commanding general, U.S. Army Human Resources Command and will be announced in permanent orders.
The requirements for award of the Combat Action Badge are not dependent on duty and occupation. Assignment to a Combat Arms unit or a unit organized to conduct close or offensive combat operations, or performing offensive combat operations is not required to qualify for the Combat Action Badge. However, it is not intended to award all soldiers who serve in a combat zone or imminent danger area.