CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq — A Warhorse Soldier was the first in the public affairs branch and among the first Army-wide to receive a battlefield promotion under new policy, which allows exceptional Soldiers to be promoted before their peers while deployed.
Spc. Seth Barham, a broadcast journalist with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was pinned, June 3, with a date of rank of, May 20.
The Army recently allowed battlefield promotions, which was a common practice during World War II and continued through subsequent wars until the end of the Vietnam Conflict. After a successful yearlong pilot program, which began in April 2008 and saw more than 900 Soldiers promoted, the Army decided to officially reinstate battlefield promotions.
Barham, a 25-year-old native of Exeter, N.H., was able to advance to the grade of specialist five months before fulfilling the typical time in service requirement.
"Since he came to the unit, Barham conducted himself in a manner far beyond what his rank suggested. It seemed only fitting to get him promoted as soon as possible," said Staff Sgt. Carlos M. Burger II, public affairs non-commissioned officer-in-charge with 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., and a native of Hampton, Va.
"I believe Barham is the first public affairs Soldier to be recognized in this program and that's a pretty significant achievement that no one can take away from him," continued Burger.
"The fact that I was even nominated meant a lot. It meant the people working around me appreciate me and appreciate what I bring to the table day in and day out. The fact of the matter is, my chain of command didn't have to do it, they chose to; and that is a very special feeling," said Barham.
As to why he was nominated, he shrugged and said he just tries to work hard to do the best he can; whatever the job, whatever the mission.
"I try to produce. If you produce in anything you ever try, no one can really get on your case. It's just like winning in sports. There could be numerous ways to get a job done, but if you produce, typically no one asks you why you did something a certain way. When you produce you instantly become an asset to the team instead of a detriment," said Barham, who is an avid Boston sports enthusiast.
"We are proud of Seth and his promotion. We just think it is amazing that Seth got a battlefield promotion. He loves what he does and he will go far. We are very proud of Seth serving his country," his parents wrote in an email.
Both his parents served in the Army. His mother, Susan, served as a supply sergeant for five years and his father, Ernest, a Vietnam veteran, served as a mechanic and retired as a sergeant first class.
"My parents weren't necessarily my inspiration for joining, even though they did a number of good things in the service, but when I came down to which branch of service I would join, they had a huge impact on that. It was Army all the way," continued Barham.
"I joined the Army to gain more structure and discipline in my life and to serve my country at the same time," said Barham, who entered the Army, Jan. 8, 2008, with a five-year enlistment. "Serving my country is a great honor. I believe everyone should have to do it at least once in their lives.
"The opportunities in the Army are endless and when you reach a point where you might get a little bored with some aspect of it, you can always go to a new school or try a new aspect of your job. There are always options to make your time in the Army exciting and fulfilling," said Barham.
"Making the Army a career is a possibility, however, my dream in life is to work in the management capacity for a professional sports team," explained Barham.
Though he does not know what the future holds, he said he is content to do his job as well as he can, as a Soldier and a journalist.
"My job is to tell the Soldier's story and the Army's story, primarily by way of video product. The best part of my job is letting people outside the Army see what a great job the American Soldier does on a daily basis. When a Soldier tells me that his family was able to see him on the computer, television or hear them on the radio, it makes my job very satisfying," concluded Barham.
This work, Warhorse Soldier among first to be battlefield promoted, by SGT Rodney Foliente, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.