“If Ken was a dynamic leader and outstanding soldier in every respect, I probably would have had reason to have crossed paths with him during that deployment, but honestly I don’t remember him,” said Womack.Aden said they did cross paths and spoke to each other on several occasions.“He had to cross paths with me because I was on the Force Skills team,” said Aden. “He knew who I was.”
When asked about the Force Skills Competition, the congressman compared it to “intramural sports” that gave the soldiers something to do.“Bless his heart, Ken Aden does not need to over-embellish being a member of the Force Skills Competition,” said Womack, who at 54, is 20 years older than Aden.“The primary mission over there was not related to what I call kind of an intramural sport. … It’s surprising that anyone would try to make some hay out of being on the Force Skills team,” said Womack.
I didn’t want to get into this as I think there are more important issues facing this district, but if this is the hand I’m dealt then I’m going to play it and win.
From there, I asked him to detail his military service, and learned that he’d recieved:
- A Combat Infantry Badge, which you only get when you’re shot at on three separate occasions.
- Airborne Wings for jumping out of planes.
- 4 Army Accommodation Medals.
- 3 Army Achievement Medals.
- 3 Overseas Service Ribbons
- A Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
- A Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- An Armed Service Reserve Medal
- A Multinational Forces Observer Medal
- 2 Good Conduct Medals
- An Arkansas Federal Service Ribbon
- 2 NCO Professional Development Ribbons, which you only get if you have troops under your command.
- A Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
- A Presidential Unit Citation Award
- A Joint Meritorious Unit Award
I was taken aback by all this, especially as Aden had to sit down and double check the list to make sure he’d gotten everything. On top of all that, Aden said he had performed a number of jobs in the military including airborne infantry, airborne reconnaissance, special forces weapons sargent, peace keeping in Sinai, and, my personal favorite, airborne mortar-man, which from the way Ken described it amounts to jumping out of a plane with a big cannon strapped to your body.
As defined by The United States Army Institute of Heraldry:
a. There are basically three requirements for award of the CIB. The Soldier must be an Infantryman satisfactorily performing Infantry duties, must be assigned to an Infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat, and must actively participate in such ground combat.
b. The specific eligibility criteria for the CIB require that:
(1) A Soldier must be an Army Infantry or Special Forces officer (SSI 11 or 18) in the grade of Colonel or below, or an Army Enlisted Soldier or Warrant Officer with an Infantry or Special Forces MOS, who subsequent to 6 December 1941 has satisfactorily performed duty while assigned or attached as a member of an Infantry, Ranger or Special Forces unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size during any period such unit was engaged in active ground combat. Eligibility for Special Forces personnel in Military Occupational Specialties accrues from 20 December 1989. Retroactive awards for Special Forces personnel are not authorized prior to 20 December 1989.
(2) A recipient must be personally present and under hostile fire while serving in an assigned Infantry or Special Forces primary duty, in a unit actively engaged in ground combat with the enemy. The unit in question can be of any size smaller than brigade.
(3) Personnel with other than an Infantry or Special Forces MOS are not eligible, regardless of the circumstances. The Infantry or Special Forces SSI or MOS does not necessarily have to be the Soldier’s primary specialty, as long as the Soldier has been properly trained in infantry or special forces tactics, possesses the appropriate skill code, and is serving in that specialty when engaged in active ground combat as described above. Commanders are not authorized to make any exceptions to this policy.
(4) Awards will not be made to General Officers or to members of headquarters companies of units larger in size than brigade.
(5) On or after 18 September 2001:
(a) A Soldier must be an Army Infantry or special forces officer (SSI 11 or 18) in the grade of Colonel or below, or an Army Enlisted Soldier or Warrant Officer with an Infantry or Special Forces MOS, who has satisfactorily performed duty while assigned or attached as a member of an infantry, ranger or special forces unit of brigade, regimental or smaller size during any period such unit was engaged in active ground combat, to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires.
(b) A Soldier must be personally present and under fire while serving in an assigned Infantry or Special Forces primary duty, in a unit engaged in active ground combat to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires. Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs), Vehicle-Borne IEDS (VBIEDS) and the like are direct fire weapons. While no fixed, qualifying distance from an explosion of these devices can be established, commanders should consider the entirety of the combat situation when considering award of the CIB.
(c) Soldiers possessing MOS of 18D (Special Forces Medical Sergeant) who satisfactorily perform Special Forces duties while assigned or attached to a Special Forces unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size during any period such unit is engaged in active ground combat may be awarded the CIB. These Soldiers must have been personally present and engaged in active ground combat, to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires. Retroactive awards under these criteria are not authorized for service prior to 18 September 2001.
(d) Those Soldiers possessing MOS of 18D who qualify for award of the Combat Medical Badge (CMB) from 18 September 2001 to the 3 June 2005, will remain qualified for the badge. Upon request any such soldier may be awarded the CIB instead of the CMB. In such instances, the Soldier must submit a request through the chain of command to the CG, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471 for conversion of the CMB to the CIB.
(e) Service members from the other U.S. Armed Forces and foreign military (Infantry and Special Forces equivalents) assigned or attached as a member of a U.S. Army Infantry or Special Forces unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size may be considered for award of the CIB. All basic requirements as listed above must be met. Retroactive awards under these criteria are not authorized for service prior to 18 September 2001.