Honoring the Combat Medic

Treating casualties at an aid station, Korea, 25 July 1950
Treating casualties at an aid station, Korea, 25 July 1950.

Today in WW II: 21 Jan 1942 Rommel's second offensive drives the British 8th Army back almost 300 miles, halting on 4 Feb between Gazala and Bir Hacheim, 30 miles west of Tobruk, Libya.   

Combat Medic Memorial Statue

Combat Medic Memorial Statue

The Combat Medic Memorial Statue stands in front of the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum, Fort Sam Houston, TX, as a permanent reminder of the bravery and skill that saved many lives on battlefields across the globe.

The Combat Medic Prayer

Oh, Lord I ask for the divine strength to meet the demands of my profession. Help me to be the finest medic, both technically and tactically. If I am called to the battlefield, give me the courage to conserve our fighting forces by providing medical care to all who are in need. If I am called to a mission of peace, give me the strength to lead by caring for those who need my assistance. Finally, Lord, help me to take care of my own spiritual, physical and emotional needs. Teach me to trust in your presence and never-failing love. Amen.

The Combat Medic Badge

The Combat Medical Badge (CMB), or Medical Badge as it was initially called, was established by the War Department in March 1945. It was created as a means to recognize the important role performed by medical personnel assigned or attached to infantry units, and who on a daily basis shared the same hazards and hardships of combat in World War II.

The need to establish a badge for medical personnel was a result of the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) being established on 27 October 1943 for the infantryman, who was subjected to the worst conditions in combat, sustained the most casualties and receiving very little, if any, recognition for their sacrifice and heroic actions. The CIB could only be awarded to infantrymen. While it was recognized that other personnel, like the medics, served along side these gallant soldiers, suffered the same hardships of combat, and often died on the battlefield treating their comrades, no exceptions were made for this prestigious award.

This new infantryman's badge led to many requests and recommendations to create special combat badges for medical personnel and other components of the army; however the War Department disapproved all of these initiatives. The Army Medical Department continued its efforts to have a combat badge established for its personnel serving in infantry units. The War Department finally approved the Medical Badge for medical personnel in WD Circular 66, dated 1 March 1945, and made it retroactive to 7 December 1941. The approval of the Medical Badge did not include the $10.00 extra pay a month that was authorized to an infantryman who earned the CIB. While the issue of extra pay was being addressed, the infantryman certainly had no objections to the medic or "DOC", as he was commonly referred to in the unit, to receive equal pay. One infantry unit took matters in their own hands and took up a collection from its members for their medics who "shared their dangers but not their pay".

In July 1945, extra pay was approved for medical personnel who served in infantry units. In February 1951, the war department approved the addition of stars to the CMB to indicate subsequent awards of the badge in separate wars or conflicts. Multiple awards of the CMB is limited to WW II, Korean Conflict and Vietnam. The rules for award of the CMB have been expanded to include Army medical personnel who served in armor and ground cavalry units during Desert Shied/Storm. Medical personnel of the Navy and Air Force who have been assigned or attached to similar Army units engaged in active ground combat may also be awarded the CMB. The CMB is one of the most coveted awards a "Soldier Medic" can earn and certainly has been and always will be the ultimate "Portrait of Courage".

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

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