Congressional Action on the U.S. Army’s Policy on the Award of the Combat Medic Badge

Editor’s Note: As many of you may know, a major effort has been initiated to direct the U.S. Army to recognize the eligibility of DUSTOFF crewmembers for the award of the Combat Medic Badge. Led superbly by CWO (Ret) John Travers, with additional congressional testimony by CWO (Ret) Mike Novosel and Fred Castleberry, Senator Arlen Specter of the Senate Committee for Veteran’s Affairs articulated the insertion of Senate Bill 1487 requiring that award. An excerpt of those proceedings follows:

Senator Specter: “I am honored that Mr. Novosel and others have brought the story of DUSTOFF to my attention. It is my sincere hope that the Army will recognize DUSTOFF pilots and crew with an appropriate badge that acknowledges the combat service of these brave individuals. When the War Department created the Combat Medical Badge (CMB) in World War II, as a companion to the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), it did so to recognize that “medical aidmen . . . shared the same hazards and hardships of ground combat on a daily basis with the infantry soldier.” DUSTOFF pilots and crew equally shared the hazards and hardships of ground combat with the infantry soldier. The fact that they were not directly assigned or attached to a particular infantry unit—a fact that, under current Army policy, makes them eligible to receive a CIB or CMB—should not bar special recognition of their service, service that one author has characterized as “the brightest achievement of the U.S. Army in Vietnam.”

On the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial are etched the names of over 400 medics, pilots, and crew who gave their lives so others might live. The forward-thinking, enthusiasm, and dedication of DUSTOFF crews in Vietnam are attributes seen in today’s DUSTOFF crews. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, which would recognize that nature of the service these individuals have performed, and continue to perform on DUSTOFF crews.

Senate Bill 1487

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.


(a) Requirement to Elect and Award Combat Badge. The Secretary of the Army shall, at the election of the Secretary

(1) award the Combat Medical Badge (CMB) to each member of a helicopter evacuation ambulance crew; or

(2)(A) establish a badge of appropriate design, to be known as the Combat Medevac Badge, and award that badge to each member of a helicopter medical evacuation ambulance crew who meets such requirements for eligibility for the award of that badge as the Secretary shall prescribe.

(b) Award for Service before Date of Enactment. In the case of persons who qualified for treatment as a member of a helicopter medical evacuation ambulance crew by reason of service during the period beginning on June 25, 1950, and ending on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall award a badge under subsection (a) to each such person with respect to whom an application for the award of such badge is made to the Secretary after such date in such manner as the Secretary may require.

(c) Member of Helicopter Medical Evacuation Ambulance Crew Defined. In this section, the term “member of a helicopter medical evacuation ambulance crew” means any person who, while a member of the Army served in combat on or after June 25, 1950, as a pilot or crew member of a helicopter medical evacuation ambulance.