Maintaining a Defiant Tone, Texas Congressman Takes Off Revoked Combat Infantryman Badge

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas
Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, comments to reporters after House Republicans picked Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the GOP whip, as their nominee for House speaker, as they try for a third time to fill the top leadership position and get Congress back to work, at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, removed the Combat Infantryman Badge from his lapel Wednesday more than a month after it was revealed the Army revoked the award last year because he was never eligible for it in the first place.

But Nehls would not directly answer when reporters pressed him on whether he would never wear the pin again, instead blasting "vultures" in the media for focusing on the badge.

"Now that I don't wear that, what are you going to talk to me about?" Nehls said to reporters asking about the missing lapel pin. "You guys are going to be bored out of your mind."

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Nehls has been under heavy criticism from veterans for weeks after CBS News and Guardian of Valor, a website focused on uncovering stolen valor, first revealed in May that the Army revoked Nehls' CIB in March 2023 because at the time he was awarded it in 2008, he served as a civil affairs officer, not an infantryman or Special Forces soldier.

In order to be eligible for a CIB, a soldier must be an infantryman or Green Beret, be serving in those roles at the time of the award, and engage an enemy in direct ground combat.

    While Nehls first enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1988 as an infantryman, his military occupational speciality in 2008 was civil affairs, making him ineligible for a CIB, according to documents published by Guardian of Valor.

    A separate award established by the Army in 2005 known as the Combat Action Badge is essentially the same award but for soldiers in jobs outside infantry or Special Forces. Nehls was awarded a CAB in 2006 for a 2004 deployment to Iraq that no one is calling into question.

    After it was revealed that his CIB was revoked, Nehls dug in his heels and refused to remove the pin from his lapel, casting himself as a victim of politics.

    Earlier this month, he sent a letter to the Army demanding to know why the award was rescinded. On Tuesday evening, he released a statement with the same defiant tone he has maintained since May after apparently receiving a response from the Army.

    "According to correspondence I received from the Department of the Army, 142,596 CIBs have been awarded over the past 20 years. Of these, only 47 CIBs have been rescinded," Nehls said in his statement, which he described as his "final written comment" on the matter.

    "Unfortunately for me, as an America First Patriot and an outspoken member of Congress, there are no lengths to which the establishment won't go to discredit me, including my CIB, which I was awarded over 14 years ago. Nothing more needs to be said," Nehls added.

    The statement made no mention of his plans for continuing to wear or not wear the pin. But later Tuesday, he updated his profile picture on social media to one where he wasn't wearing the CIB but was donning a tie with former President Donald Trump's portrait printed on it and Trump-branded gold sneakers.

    Reporters also spotted him Wednesday morning walking to vote in the House chamber wearing the same tie and shoes -- and no CIB.

    While the pin was missing, Nehls still refused to concede that he was not eligible for the award and suggested he only removed it to quiet the "dishonest" media.

    Anthony Anderson, an Army veteran who runs Guardian of Valor, told on Wednesday that he is "going to give it a few days to see" if Nehls puts the pin back on but that he suspects Nehls took the badge off in hopes criticism dies down without him having to admit wrongdoing.

    "But he knows what he's doing is wrong," Anderson added.

    Related: Texas Congressman Won't Stop Wearing Combat Infantryman Badge that Was Revoked

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