2020 CIAssoc National Scholarship Program

First Place:

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.

Second Place:

A $1500 Scholarship was awarded to Sophia Allen, daughter of member Kirk T Allen.

What makes the CIB special to you?
The Combat Infantryman Badge is special to me because it recognizes those who have not only served for our country but have put forth their best effort under enemy fire in combat. When I found out my father was awarded not once, but twice, I felt proud to be his daughter. He has always done so much for me and I have always known that has given so much to our country. This award shows everyone else the sacrifice he has made to protect our country. My father is not comfortable talking about the experiences he had while deployed and the Soldiers he knew that now grieve over the loss of their battle-buddies. The CIB has provided a different perspective as to what my father and other Soldiers have been through. With the current campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is more important than ever to continuing honoring the men and women who have sacrificed for their country. The CIB is special to me because although I may never understand what they have put on the line, this is one way that they can be honored for all they have done.

In 1981, the Supreme Court case Rostker v. Goldberg decided that having only men be eligible for the draft did not violate the due process clause. As a female, I am not eligible to be drafted for a military conflict. However, if I were called up for the Draft, I would proudly take my place with the United States Military and serve my country to the best of my ability. 

If our government called you up for the Draft due to a military conflict, how would you respond?  The last draft occurred during the Vietnam War and the men who served showed distinction and courage when faced with an unimaginable circumstance. If drafted, I do not know how I would feel; emotions would be overwhelming for not only me, but also my loved ones. A military conflict produces stress and fear in our nation. I would be fearful as well, but my goal would be to ensure my family stays safe and protected at home. 

My father made the decision to serve and give our country twenty years in the Infantry. Although in a Draft you are obligated to serve, I would be honored to step up and help protect my country.

Third  Place:

A $750 Scholarship was awarded to Joshua Forsythe, grandson of member Robert Towles.

What makes the CIB special to you?
The CIB is special because it demands respect and states that the wearer has met the enemy face to face in combat, and the wearer has placed his life on the line to protect and defend me and our national way of life.  This “Blue Badge” stands out from all other awards and is worn in the place of honor over the heart and above all other decorations even the Medal of Honor..  With the prestige bestowed by the CIB, it is small wonder that the CIB is so coveted by non-infantry soldiers.  Yes the CIB is special to me because it is worn by a special bred of men who have fought for this great country.

If our government called you up for the Draft due to a military conflict, how would you respond?      It is essential in a time of war that everyone responds and serves if called upon by a Congressional decree of conscription. I for one believe in protecting and defending this great country. I would dutifully answer the draft call, not for myself, but for my family, friends, and those I do not know who are unable to defend themselves. Moreover, I am a patriot and would be proud to show my respect, obedience, responsibility, obligation, and duty to my country if ever called upon. I would welcome the noble values that the military can instill and strengthen within me—values such as obedience, discipline, and respect of authority. These virtues can easily be fortified and embodied within me by the military. As a soldier, I would strive to emulate soldierly values in my daily life. Surely, these values would form the very foundation of my personal behavior and would define me as a person both militarily and privately. Of course, these core values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Indeed, the values and discipline that the military can instill in me could go a long way even in my personal life, and this alone is enough motivation for me to proudly answer my country’s call.

My grandfather and five great-uncles served in Vietnam, my only uncle enlisted following 9/11. My family has instilled the need to serve in me for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, local recruiters turned me away when I questioned them about enlistment or ROTC possibilities because I have medically controlled asthma. Surely the standards would be lowered in case of a national emergency, and I would be permitted to serve.

Fourth Place:

A $500 Scholarship was awarded to Caroline Bonner, daughter of member Jeffery Bonner.

Fifth Place:

A $250 Scholarship was awarded to Richard Riekse, son of member Max Riekse.

2020 Combat Infantrymen’s Association Scholarship Program

Helpful terms:

  • CIB – Combat Infantry Badge
  • CIAssoc – Combat Infantrymen’s Association
  • DD-214 – Official military document provided to all service members upon separation from the military

Eligibility: Program is open each year to current CIAssoc Members, and children and grandchildren of CIAssoc Members who will be full time college students during the upcoming fall and spring semesters. Applicant must include either the CIB recipient’s CIAssoc membership number, or must enclose/attach the CIB recipient’s proof of eligibility and the membership application required for membership in the Combat Infantrymen’s Association. Acceptable proof of eligibility includes an official notation on the CIB recipient’s DD-214, DD-215, Official Army Orders, or other official documents.  Proof of eligibility will then be reviewed by the Association Membership Officer for validity. Applications submitted without proper proof of eligibility will not be considered for review.  Applications will be accepted between February 10 and May 15 of each year, and awarded July 1. Student must show proof of end of school year 3.0 or higher GPA by providing copy of most recent high school or college transcript.

Criteria/Judging: Scholarships are awarded based on essay responses and application completion. The purpose of the scholarship is to raise awareness among students about the CIB. Essay prompt will be provided on the application, and applicant must be able to share the story of the recipients CIB award as part of the application.  Essays will be judged anonymously – meaning the judges will not know the names of the applicants. Essays will be judged by members of local, divisional and national scholarship committees who do NOT have students participating in the scholarship program.

Awards: The CIAssoc Scholarship program provides one First Place Award of $2500; one Second Place Award of $500 and one Third Place Award of $250. Scholarships are also offered at the local and division level, pursuant to available funding.  Winners of local and division level scholarships will be submitted to the National Scholarship Committee, and first, second and third place National Scholarship Awards will be selected.  Scholarships are awarded to students furthering their education at either a community college, trade school or university as a full time student.  Funds are paid directly to the student in August of award year. Proof of enrollment will be required. Each year requires a separate application.

Application: Applications must be completed on line, using the form on the CIAssoc web site (link below, with the essay attached at the end of the form as a .pdf.  Each application will be assigned a number, and each essay will be saved with the same number, and provided to the judges by number, not by name.

Funding: The CIAssoc Scholarship Program is funded by donations from members of the Combat Infantrymen’s Association and Association Supporters.    Certain Divisions and Companies make provisions to assist in the funding of scholarships through either the solicitation of $300 convention business ads or buying a full page ad in the convention book.  However, there is no obligation for doing so.

Deadline: Application is open from February 1 – May 15, each year. Applications must be received by 11:59pm on May 15.

Apply Online

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Update on 2019 Scholarship Program Winners

2019 Scholarship Program Recipients