Blackout Poetry: Combat Action Badge

Michael Anthony 4 Comments

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Blackout Poetry Logo DesignThis poem/post will probably be a little more controversial than most Blackout poetry posts. That’s because it involves Combat Action Badges, and the current debate regarding them, and when/how/if/under what circumstances they should be awarded. My position on this is somewhat unique, though I know I’m not alone…

Blackout Poetry: Combat Action Badge

This article originally appeared in the Army Times and was over whether or not Combat Action Badge’s (CAB’s) should be retroactively awarded to soldiers.

“We don’t fight wars for awards.”

Here’s my take: Back when I was in the army, and serving in Iraq, I was awarded a CAB while serving in Mosul, Iraq. Now, at the time, CAB’s were a huge thing. Everyone wanted one. Some people wanted CAB’s so bad that they were even willing to lie to get them and “pretend,” as though they had been in a direct combat situation. It was a sad, sickening, spectacle. Several of my commanders lied about being in combat (and then backed up one another’s stories) just so they could get the coveted “Combat Action Badge.” This, ultimately, led myself and several fellow soldiers to come up with the saying “Never trust a soldier with a chest full of metal, unless the metal is shrapnel.” Lying was so prevalent that towards the end, the CAB, and several other awards, meant nothing to us.

People were trying so hard to get CAB’s that they were petitioning the Army, even back then, to change the regulations. Some soldiers wanted CAB’s for being around unexploded ordnance (I kid you not) others wanted unit-wide CAB’s since some of us had been in combat (that is actually too ridiculous for me to be able to explain in a blog post). And the coup de grace of all this is that at the end of my deployment, several fellow soldiers wanted me to lie about the events of an attack so that another soldier could be awarded a CAB. I refused, and the soldiers got upset with me, as though I was the asshole.

Anyway, if you can’t tell by now, I have no respect for soldiers, or anyone else, who feels the need to bitch, complain, and whine that they don’t have enough awards to pin on their chests.

We don’t fight wars for awards. Act like it!

 Poem Transcription:

Debate

Over

CABs

The Combat Action Badge

Was made to

Award Veterans

They want to be recognized

 For more military/war related blackout poetry click here.

To read more about the military experience and CAB’s check out the following book:

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About The Author
Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony is a Massachusetts based writer and veteran of the U.S. Army. After his service in the Iraq War, he earned a BA in English Literature from Bridgewater State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. He currently spends his free time with his wife and daughter, and volunteering for veteran charities.

Comments 4

  1. Edmond L.

    I hear ya man. I did a ten month tour in Iraq back in 08′ and everyone was all about the combat action badges, it was all “CAB this” and “CAB that.” I personally never got one even though I could’ve if I wanted to but I’ve never been one for awards either. I really like that line about: “Never trust a soldier with a chest full of metal, unless the metal is shrapnel.”

    If you look at some of the old generals, the real ones, from WWI and WWII those guys will only wear a few pins on their chest, even if they earend more, but Generals today will walk around with chests full of metal even if they never were eeven in combat or theatre. its pathetic.

  2. Walter

    They didn’t have combat action badges when I was in. I would’ve qualified for one and wouldn’t mind having one it’s not a big deal though I don’t understand why soldiers are making such a fuss about it

  3. Nicholas W. Wilson

    Interesting thoughts on combat action badges and interesting thoughts on poetry. I have always felt that this is the “Trophy Generation,” it’s just sad to think that it has leaked into our military as well.

  4. Connor James

    So the poem would actually read:

    Debat Over CABs

    The Combat Action Badge

    Was made to

    Award Veterans

    They want to be recognized

    Not really a poem to me.

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