Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Day 51: Combat Patch
The intent behind the wear of the combat patch, also known as shoulder sleeve insignia, is to recognize Soldiers' participation in combat operations. Once Soldiers report to their first units, they wear their command's patch on their left sleeve. When deployed to a designated combat zone, Soldiers may also wear the patch of the unit for which they serve with on their right sleeve. Here's some history of the combat patch that I aquired from Wikipedia: The 81st Infantry Division "Wildcat" is generally agreed to have been first U.S. Army unit authorized an SSI. In 1918, during World War I, the 81st Division sailed for France after training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. On their left shoulder the men of the division wore an olive drab felt patch with the silhouette of a wildcat - after Wildcat Creek, a stream that flows through Fort Jackson. When men of the other fighting divisions challenged the right of 81st soldiers to wear the patch, General John J. Pershing ruled that the 81st could keep this distinctive insignia. He also suggested that other divisions adopt shoulder patches of their own. This patch was officially adopted by the U.S. Army on October 19, 1918. By World War II, all army groups, field armies, corps, and divisions, as well as all major Army commands, had unique SSI. These SSI would often be created with symbolism alluding to the unit's formation. Examples include the 82nd Airborne Division, which included an "AA" on its patch alluding to the "All-American" soldiers from every state that made it up, and the 29th Infantry Division, which included blue and grey to allude to soldiers that made it up being from states on both sides of the American Civil War. Most US formations had unique patches which varied greatly in size and makeup, with the exception of US Armored divisions, all of which adopted the same patch (a yellow, red and blue triangle with a symbol for Armor in the middle). Each division then included its number on the patch to denote it. A few of the divisions added their unit nickname onto the patches, but most did not. Subdued patches and insignia were introduced during the Vietnam War and were made mandatory for wear on the field uniform starting July 1, 1970. In the early 1980s, brigades began creating SSI. Today most separate brigades have their own SSI, but those brigades permanently attached to divisions do not. A handful of smaller units have SSI (including US Army Rangers and other special forces groups), but most units battalion level and smaller do not have SSI. I am assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, and now wear the Screaming Eagle combat patch!