On the other hand, since its creation about four years ago, tens of thousand Combat Action Badges (seen here) have been awarded. To qualify, a soldier must be in an area that qualifies for hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay and must be engaged by the enemy or have engaged the enemy. All the soldier is required to do is to perform in a manner expected of all American soldiers.
I mention this only because on July 2, I learned that I had been awarded the Combat Action Badge for an incident in Iraq. As our convoy rotated out of theater, my vehicle was taken under fire. SPC Daws, the gunner, and I returned fire, driving the terrorists from the field. I suspect that fewer than 150 rounds were exchanged and no one was wounded. About an hour later we reached the Kuwaiti border and our time in the Middle East was reduced to less than two weeks.
And I mention all this only because I have seen, in the last several days, articles suggesting that I have inflated my resume, that I was too fat to be a soldier, and a few questioning how I could have been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, an intelligence officer in the Air Force, and suddenly a National Guardsman called to active duty in the Army in Iraq. I’ll just say that the National Guard is made up of lots of soldiers who have experience in other branches of the service. In our battalion, one of the first sergeants was a Marine Vietnam Veteran, the NCOIC of our MKT was a former Navy man, and I, of course was former Air Force. This eclectic make up of the National Guard is not at all unusual.
In another article some guy thought the claim I had written more than 100 books was a stretch. This guy, using his internal logic, thought writing two books a year was a difficult task and he could only find some 24 books that I had written when he searched the Library of Congress. Of course, he didn’t look at Amazon.com or he would have found about 50 titles before he ran into a duplication. Just a brief look would have found the four Scorpion Squad books I wrote as Eric Helm, twenty-one Vietnam Ground Zero books I wrote as Eric Helm (plus an additional four "Super" books), the fourteen Navy Seals books I wrote as Steve MacKenzie, the six Wings of Nam books as Cat Brannigan (hey, don’t blame me, I didn’t pick the name), the twenty-one science fiction novels, the book about lost gold and buried treasures, the two Bantam Books about the coming world war, the eighteen books about UFOs and the paranormal, and a handful of others on a variety of subjects... and not including the five that my agent has right now (nor the dozen that have never been published).
I once joked I was in the book a month club, having to write a book a month but one year I wrote nineteen. I wrote one book in six days... sure it was a short book and there wasn’t a lot of rewriting going on, but I handed it in on time.
So, I decided to mention these things to set part of the record straight. I’m not sure what causes these people to attack without bothering to gather all the facts. Simple Internet searches would have provided some of the information... I mean, for those who know where to look, they could have found a picture of my flight school class, a website that has a picture of me in Vietnam and a much later picture of me in Iraq, they could find listings of my bibliography, not always up to date but showing more than 24 books published, and other information proving that I’m not making these things up.
What often strikes me as funny is that those of us who have not embellished their credentials are held to different standards than those who do. I’m challenged to prove it, and do so, and those others say, "Well, my records have been changed to make me look bad." They aren’t challenged with the same vigor that I am... but I have the proof and they don’t.
So, once again, I mention that I was just awarded the Combat Action Badge as just another proof that I really did serve in Iraq.