By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /
The 2016 Doughboy Award dinner was held Sept. 13 at the National Infantry Museum. Retired Gen. David Bramlett, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Merritt and Ben E. Williams Jr. were the recipients of this year’s award.
Since 1980, the National Infantry Association has presented select individuals with the Doughboy Award for their outstanding contributions to the U.S. Army Infantry.
The Doughboy Award, a chrome replica of the helmet worn by American Expeditionary Soldiers during World War I and the early days of World War II, is the highest honor that the chief of Infantry can grant an Infantryman.
“It’s a great honor for any Infantryman regardless of age or experience. Each Infantryman’s service and the challenges he faces are unique to him. So to be honored by your peers and receive the Doughboy Award is a singular achievement,” said Bramlett, who served the Army for 34 years.
Bramlett recalled his most memorable time as an Infantryman saying, “My company command was in the Vietnam War. I had 95 to 100 brave young men at a time and they were over there doing the best they could. They recognized what their duties were and fulfilled them. They took care of each other and I will never forget that experience.”
Bramlett revealed that he recently revisited the drop zones of Normandy, where his father-in-law fought alongside retired Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Merritt.
“To go to Normandy, something I’ve always wanted to do, was in one sense a pinnacle of Infantry sacrifice and commitment,” said Bramlett.
Merritt served 36 years in the Army, 25 of those were as an Infantryman. He first came through Fort Benning in January 1943 to complete jump school.
“I’m glad to be here. I was honored to be picked for this award. I hope to see a lot of my old buddies at this ceremony,” he said.
“I just came back last week from Belgium. I wanted to retrace my tracks from the Battle of the Bulge 72 years ago. I stayed over there for several days. I figured I’d better do it while I was still able. So I went and found some of the foxholes I was in during the Battle of the Bulge. I felt really good about it,” Merritt added.
Williams, who was the founding executive director and the person responsible for creating the vision that turned into the National Infantry Museum, said that he was honored to receive the Doughboy Award.
“The work I’ve done is on behalf of a lot of people. Many of who worked with us to create the museum. This is a family here,” said Williams.
Before his work with the NIM, Williams served three years of active duty.
“I’ve always been close to the military and I’ve worked 16 years to help make all of this happen with the museum,” he said.
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