JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Maj. Chad M. Nangle, the G-3 chief of future operations for the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and Austin, Minn., native, received his combat action badge on Joint Base Balad four years after the event that earned him the award.

The CAB was not approved as a military award until May 2, 2005, making the already redeployed Nangle's unit leaders responsible for finding the information to award the eligible recipient of the award. This also makes the process longer than usual.

"When Chad first earned this award back in the 2004 time period, the CAB was not an award," said Col. Curt Higdon, Nangle's battalion commander at the time, and current assistant chief of staff G3 for the 3d ESC, and a Henryville, Ind., native.

Higdon is still working to ensure his Soldiers that qualified for the CAB during that time receive this award. He researches and finds witnesses to write statements on a given incident, and then works to have the paperwork approved by the Soldier's current chain of command. The process is lengthened when Soldiers move to another duty station; they have to have their CAB paperwork reviewed by their new chain of command.

The CAB is a special recognition to Soldiers who engaged, or were engaged by the enemy, but is not awarded to Soldiers who only serve in a combat zone or imminent danger area. The award is not dependent on military occupational specialty. The CAB consists of a silver badge with an oak wreath supporting a bayonet surmounting a grenade.

The specific incident that qualified Nangle for the CAB happened while he was eating at the dining facility with his executive officer. Once they heard rounds impacting the base, they started to evacuate according to their battle drills. One round hit as close as 15 meters from the south wall of the DFAC.

"We were hit on the (logistical) base on the average over 19 days, took over 340 rounds inside (the wire) and there is no doubt in my mind that over 100 of those rounds were in the designated distances that would have earned him the award," Higdon said.

According to Higdon, that night the base received 12 to 14 rounds and injured approximately 50 service members and killed one service member. Nangle came close to being part of those statistics with shrapnel hitting people to the left and right of him. Nangle helped to get the injured to medical sites, radioed medical evacuation and proceeded through his battle drills as he was expected.

"Watching Chad fall under that attack (and) watching him maneuver after that, he is no doubt a hero," Higdon said.

"For me personally it is just something that says that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time but was lucky enough not to get hurt and get the purple heart," Nangle said.

"(He) didn't seek the award, (he) didn't want the award: he's probably a little embarrassed that we put him in for it now, (but) again that just shows the character of the Soldier," Higdon said. "This is not an award you seek. This award is given to those that put their life on the line every time we come into this country; those that are out seeking these kinds of things are here for the wrong reasons and they're probably going to cause somebody to get hurt."


PHOTOS AND STORY BY SPC AMANDA D. TUCKER, 3D SUSTAINMENT COMMAND (EXPEDITIONARY) PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
FOR QUERIES, CONTACT 3D SUSTAINMENT COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT: ESCPAO@IRAQ.CENTCOM.MIL .
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Page last updated Mon March 9th, 2009 at 06:43