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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 34511
Experience:  Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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My name is ***** ***** A., I was awarded the Soldiers Medal

Customer Question

My name is ***** ***** A. Roberts, I was awarded the Soldiers Medal in 1991 for entering a burning house and pulling an elderly women to safety. I then entered the house again three more times to retrieve her elderly husband; I was successful in finding him and pulling him out as well but he later died from smoke inhalation. When I received my award and accompanying citation a set of orders said that although I did demonstrate Valorous actions it did not reach the level needed to qualify for the additional 10% in my retirement pay. I would like to know if I can appeal this decision now (14+ years later). And, if so how do I appeal this decision.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: Actually, since the incident occurred in February 1991, it is now 25 years later. I was a SSG/E6 working at the 1st Special Warfare Center and School (1st SWC) at Fort Bragg, NC, as a Senior Psyop Instructor. I was on the way to work to lead PT for my (then) current class of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) soldiers attending the 37F (Psychological Operations) AIT. As I was leave my off-base housing area, I noticed a thick heavy cloud that I thought was early morning fog. However, the fog was only in one area, which seemed odd. Once I passed this particular house, a smell of wood smoke filled my car. I then put the car in reverse and quickly backed-up to the street intersection and got out of my car. I looked at the house were I had seen the fog bank (smoke) and that's when I saw flames jumping up on the inside of the window in what turned out to be the living room area. Leaving my car in the intersection, I ran to the house and began looking for a way in. I found it at the back of the house where an elderly women was standing inside the bedroom window screaming for help. She could not get the window open because it was a much older home (circa 1960's) and new storm windows had also been added to the frame of the existing older windows. I was able to pull the new storm window (frame and all) out of the window frame, then place my hands just under the jammed older window and some how managed to get that window up as I was straddling the brick entrance to the craw-space leading underneath the house. Once I had gotten the window up, I then jumped up from the brick craw space entrance into the window. The elderly lady was screaming and crying and began smacking at my face and hitting my chest and arms as I was trying to get control of her so I could remove her from that situation. I finally wrapped my arms around her (subduing her arms to her side) and throwing myself backwards out the window with the elderly women's body pressed against my chest. Once we hit the ground, I made sure see was not injured, I escorted her to the front of her house and asked if there were anyone else in the house. She informed me that yes, her elderly husband was still in the house. I asked her what part of the house she thought her husband might be. She said the living room area in the front of the house. She also said I could enter that part of the house through the car-port where there was a side entrance to the laundry room and the living area to the right. I told the lady to wakeup a neighbor and have them call 911. I then entered through the side door crawling at first on my hands and knees the first time, and on I my stomach the second time trying to reach the elderly man. My first attempt failed because I became overcome the heated smoke filling my lungs and the intense heat. I was able to reverse my course and find my back out. I took and short time to catch my breath and composure before entering the house a second time. This attempt also failed because after reentering the house and reaching the living area something heavy feel on top of me knocking the wind out of me and forcing me to suck heated smoke and fumes again. I can recall saying to myself "I'm dead, I'm going to do die in this fire." I can't really recall how I found my back out of the house but I did make it back to the side door and out to the fresh air. I then decided to reenter the house from where I had pulled the women from the window. Once in the bedroom, I felt the bedroom door leading to the hallway beyond. It was very hot so I used my unzipped PT jacket to grab the door knob and open the door. I then tried to enter the hallway but tripped and fell over the elderly man who had lost consciousness and had collapsed in the hallway. It took every bit of strength I had to try and pick this 200 (+) pound man up (which was a challenge beings that I was only about 165 lbs at the time). I then dragged the man to the open window and tried to again wrap my arms around his body as I had done earlier with his wife and I was planning to go out the window backwards again clutching his body close to mine. However, just as I was trying to force the two of us out the window, I felt the hand of a volunteer firemen grab my backside as he said "I got you airborne, let me help you." We got the elderly man safely out the window and another volunteer firemen then helped me out the same window. I then gave the elderly women my PT outfit as all she had on was a thin cotton night grown which was a little too revealing under the circumstances. I also gave her $20 to buy coffee and something to eat (should she want any), while waiting to hear any word on her husbands condition. As I was trying to leave and assume my duties as the PT instructor; the elderly women asked me to follow her and the ambulance to the hospital and set with her while she awaited word from the doctors concerning her husband. I complied with her wishes.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — Military Lawyers generally expect a deposit of about $18 to help with your type of question (you only pay if satisfied). Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

Hello! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney with more than 18 years of experience. I am here to assist you with your questions. Please understand that if I ask you for additional information, you are NOT charged again and our communications are NOT timed. So please see this as a relaxed conversation between friends. I am here to help

Also, if you would like to chat on the phone, let me know and I can make that happen.

I am truly sorry to be the person to have to bear this bad news.

You are correct...Any enlisted soldier who is eligible for retirement pay will receive an increase of 10 percent in retirement pay, if the level of valor was equal to that which would earn the Distinguished Service Cross.

But this measure is a finding that would have had to have been made at the time that the medal was awarded.

To qualify for the 10% you need the Secretary of the he Soldier's Medal may be credited by the Secretary of the Army with extraordinary heroism only if it is determined that the heroism displayed was equivalent to that required for award of the Distinguished Service Cross.

The Secretary of the Army gets to make the call on this one.

So you have an uphill battle here.

It is possible...that is, it is possible to file a petition with the board of corrections for military records to request they make this change. YOu need to convince this board that they heroism you displayed was comparable to the level that would be awarded the service cross.

Take a look here

http://boards.law.af.mil/ARMY/BCMR/CY2011/20110001654.txt

For a look at an opinion from the board of corrections on a case that is somewhat similar...you get an idea of what goes into one of these cases

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

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