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ANSBACH, Germany — Soldiers with the 412th Aviation Support Battalion who were recommended for promotion when assigned to the unit’s rear detachment will have to appear before a special promotion board Monday and vie for the ranks or promotable status again.

The unusual situation of soldiers trying to earn promotions that they previously obtained stems from an investigation into, and the subsequent removal of, the 412th ASB rear detachment commander and command sergeant major earlier this year.

The promotion boards held by the 412th ASB’s former rear detachment command in the past year have been deemed illegal, said Command Sgt. Maj. William Steen of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade rear detachment.

Steen verified that the former 412th ASB commander and sergeant major were relieved of command but would not confirm their names. Citing an ongoing investigation into the matter, Steen said he could not discuss what happened, but did offer that several things were not done right, including forgery.

"There’s eight months’ worth of mess I’m trying to clean up right now," he said.

The issues were brought to his attention between February and April of this year, he said.

About 20 soldiers who were recommended for or received promotions are affected, but only five are scheduled to appear before the board Monday, Steen said.

A soldier who requested anonymity said soldiers in the unit are being adversely affected because of the misdeeds of the former rear detachment command.

"All this garbage that happened at this command should not be reflected upon the soldiers," the soldier said. "The little guys are getting hurt."

Soldiers were told while it was not their fault, they could lose their rank and possibly the money they earned while holding the higher ranks, the soldier said.

"I want to get the word out," the soldier said. "I want to let everyone that may be able to help help."

Soldiers are concerned about several issues, including:

Will they lose their rank or promotable status prior to Monday’s board?If the soldiers are reduced in rank, will they have to give back the pay and allowances they received when they held their higher rank?With a loss of rank or promotable status in their files, what are these soldiers’ chances for future promotions?What rank should soldiers wear on their uniforms when they stand before the board on Monday?Steen said he was waiting to hear from legal and finance as to his options, but decisions had not been made as of Thursday morning.

"I’m not out to ruin anybody’s career or take their rank," Steen said. "If we can prove they obtained it illegally, we’re going to do what we have to do."

Steen could have penalized all the affected soldiers by simply taking 300 promotion points away from them and leaving the situation at that, but that would not have been the right way to handle the situation, he said.

"I’m trying to give the soldiers the benefit of the doubt, and this is best way to do it within regulation," he said.

The 412th ASB returned from a roughly 15-month deployment to Iraq earlier this month.


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