Soldiers Honored For Time In Combat


Sixty-one uniformed Army National Guard soldiers stood at attention as a two-star general stepped up to address them.

The Adjutant General, Major General David P. Rataczak, first apologized to the 44 area soldiers who had seen combat in Iraq, but had not yet received the deserved Combat Action Badge. Some had waited more than three years.


Sgt. Ken Sayles holds his 6-week-old daughter after he and fellow Army National Guard soldiers were honored with the Combat Action Badge.

"I don't know why it took so long to honor these men and women," Rataczak said. "But we're very proud of them all."

He then began to award the long-awaited honor, adding a personal salute and a handshake.

The ceremony was held in the back parking lot of the American Legion building in Payson on Saturday.

Standing in straight, tight columns and rows were the soldiers from the 1404 Transportation Company who were called to meet at this central location. Among them were soldiers from Payson, Globe, Show Low, Prescott and other northern Arizona communities.

"Nobody goes to a theater of war looking for an award," Rataczak told the soldiers and their families. "When the rockets struck and the bullets were flying, you relied on your training, and each other. I'm proud of all of you for the way you reacted."

The Combat Action Badge may be awarded to any soldier, branch and military occupational specialty, performing assigned duties in an area where military is engaging or being engaged by the enemy. It recognizes that in the current realities of the battlefield or insurgency, any soldier could be subject to a combat situation.

The badge is the first non-medical combat distinction to honor female soldiers who are caught in battle during U.S. wars, largely because female soldiers are not assigned to front-line combat duties.

The war in Iraq has demonstrated that any soldier -- from a cook, to a driver, to an infantryman -- can be exposed to insurgent attacks.

The badge is 2 inches wide, consisting of an oak wreath supporting a rectangle bearing a bayonet and grenade, and can be silver or black in color. Stars are added to the top to indicate subsequent awards. The oak wreath symbolizes strength and loyalty. The bayonet and grenade are associated with active combat.

On May 2, 2005, the Army Chief of Staff approved the creation of the Combat Action Badge and it was established on June 3, 2005. The award is retroactive to Sept. 18, 2001.

Closing the ceremony on Saturday, the general left the soldiers with some advice in the event they return to combat.

"Remember to pay attention to detail," he said. "Make sure you pay attention to your training. It will make the difference."

Rataczak then turned to the families who gathered to watch their loved ones being honored.

"To the families I say, thank you. Thank you for sharing your soldiers with us," he said. "They can't be ready to do what they do without the support of their families."

Those awarded the Combat Action Badge at the Dec. 2, 2006 ceremony:

Sgt. Eric Baldonado

Sgt. Jaclyn Barton

Ssg. Debora Boyer

Sgt. Brian Brown

Sgt. Tiffany Brown

Ssg. Noel Cox

Ssg. Caleb Davis

Sgt. Corban Davis

Sgt. Ismael Diaz

Spc. Kyle Dowdy

Ssg. Norman Erickson

Sgt. Micky Fields

Sgt. Kathryne Gale

Spc. Jesse Gower

Sgt. Aaron Hawkins

Sgt. Joel Hensley

Sgt. Pearlena Henry

Sgt. Grace Julien

Spc. Sherman Keyannie

Ssg. Francisco Linarte

Sfc. Steven Lonetti

Sgt. Dale Moore

Pfc. Christopher Mulrooney

Spc. Delton Munday

Sgt. Lorencita Murphy

Sfc. Raymond Olesky

Spc. Leroy Outah

Sgt. Jackie Reel

Sgt. Kristyna Robinson

Sfc. David Rush

2nd Lt. Jon Sacchini

Ssg. Francisco Saucedo

Sgt. Brian Smith

Sfc. Mark Smith

Spc. Cora Strong

Sgt. Robert Stumvoll

Ssg. Timothy Toney

Sgt. Percy Via

Awarded, but not present:

Spc. Clarilynn Cosay

Ssg. Barry Flake

Ssg. Marc Hillis

Spc. Phillip Nozie

Spc. William Peterson

Spc. Luis Quintana Cisneros

View a collection of photos from this event.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.