(Fort Bragg, NC) May 19th, 2014 – The 82nd Airborne Division is under pressure today, as early reports are leaking that a soldier, Staff Sergeant Adam Johnson, had his Silver Star downgraded to a Certificate of Achievement due to the fact that he has sleeve tattoos. As many are now aware, excessive tattoos on the arms or legs are now outside of regulation with the release of a revised AR 670-1. Commanders and Sergeants Major across the Army are doing the best they can to implement and enforce the new standard, and the awards and promotion system is one such way they have chosen to do so.
SSG. Johnson, a paratrooper who killed 28 Haqqani Network fighters in Afghanistan with nothing but his issued Gerber multi-tool while simultaneously calling in an airstrike (which was denied due to concerns about hearts and minds) and rendering aid to his injured soldiers said, “I didn’t do what I did for awards or recognition, I was just doing what any good paratrooper would have done in the situation. I’m just a little shocked that my tattoo’s are an influence on the award I was recommended for.” He went on to say the one consoling factor was that he was told his Certificate of Achievement would come with a coin from his Brigade Commander.
We contacted the Brigade Public Affairs Officer for comment, and the official stance was nothing short of shocking, “Frankly, the Brigade leadership was a bit surprised that he was able to do what he did in combat, as it is a well known fact that sleeve tattoo’s basically render you combat ineffective. Throw in the fact that his high and tight was over two weeks old at the time, we are shocked he even survived the ordeal, much less flourished!” The PAO did not comment further, and the brigade leadership was not available for comment, as they were busy chasing down a First Sergeant who was not all ‘green’ on the spreadsheet that tracks the trackers for the multitude of online courses each soldier must be ‘green’ on.
What’s next for the heroic NCO? Staff Sergeant Johnson told us he is separating from the Army, but not because of the award fiasco, or the new regulation on tattoos. “I am ready to move on to an organization where I am judged not by the ink on my skin, the hair on my head, or the reflective belt on my waist. I look forward to the position I was offered at the Veterans Administration, where my passion for fellow veterans will be heard by my superiors, and they will do everything in their power to make sure no man is left behind, and no request for help goes unheard.”
Editors Note: At the time of this article going to press, SSG. Johnson had his Certificate of Achievement revoked due to the fact that he was missing a BDU-patterned grenade pouch (that he was issued in 2002) when he reported to the CIF to turn in his gear. It is unclear if SSG. Johnson will be able to locate the grenade pouch in question at this time.