First Place

Posted: Jul 14, 2020

A $2500 Scholarship was awarded to association member Rob Williams.

What makes the CIB special to you?
The Combat Infantry Badge is special to me because it signifies my competence at the most important job I ever had—leading men in combat. Earning the CIB places a soldier in a fraternity of previous recipients that earned the badge in conditions most Americans cannot fathom. I am fortunate in that I can now apply for this scholarship, whereas many of my friends can not, as the badge was the last thing they earned.

Describe the circumstances of the event during which the CIB was earned:
My first firefight occurred the day after Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003. My unit came under fire from Iraqi insurgents loyal to Hussein in the city of Samarra after my platoon captured a military-aged male riding a motorcycle. I was manning an M2 .50 Caliber machine gun on a Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle. Usually, this weapon is fired from inside the vehicle. Yet on this day, the remote weapon system was not functioning, and I was firing from on top, providing suppressive fire. At the same time, elements of my platoon maneuvered on enemy positions. Throughout my three combat tours and thirty-six months in combat, I came under fire more times than I can count, many in some very hair-raising experiences that resulted in numerous casualties.

If our government called you up for the Draft due to a military conflict, how would you respond?  After a career as an infantryman, I am afraid I would be precluded from service in the event of a draft. However, if called, I would eagerly re-enter service to apply my hard-won experience on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to whatever situation the United States needed me. I am, however, a recent addition to my local draft board in Ohio. After arriving at Ohio State University for graduate school, as I get older, I thought the best use of my experience and patriotism was to enroll as a local draft board member. Military service is a crucial component of my family’s history. My father served in the Navy during the Cold War. My grandfather was an artillery officer in World War II, where he provided much-needed fire support to the infantrymen of the 96th Infantry Division in the Philippines and Okinawa. I can trace my family’s military history to the American Revolution, including an infantry Sergeant in the 4th Minnesota during the American Civil War. Needless to say, if the government called me up during a draft, I would eagerly respond and hope that I am not too advanced in age to do my part.

           The United States is a unique experiment in self-governance. Far from perfect, it is a participatory democracy that requires buy-in from each citizen. Sometimes, in an existential crisis, this requires donning the uniform of one’s country and pledging to defend it from all enemies—foreign and domestic. The draft, as President Woodrow Wilson once said, is the most democratic way to raise an army.

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