Saturday, August 8, 2009

7th Engineer Battalion troops receive combat patch in Iraq

The Mountaineer Home Page.

July 30, 2009

From 7th Engineer Battalion

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – Standing on a hot and dusty field July 21, Soldiers of 7th Engineer Battalion received the first official recognition of their service in Iraq. For the first time since Operation Just Cause in 1989, personnel assigned to 7th Engineer Battalion have earned the right to wear the “shoulder sleeve insignia, wartime service,” otherwise known as the combat patch. In a brief ceremony, senior leaders of the battalion and its companies presented each Soldier with the 20th Engineer Brigade patch and thanked all of them for their service. The history of the combat patch began during World War I, when Soldiers were authorized and encouraged by General Pershing to wear distinctive unit patches on their uniforms. In later years, the policy was expanded to allow Soldiers to also wear the insignia of a unit they had served with in combat, in order to honor their service and sacrifice in the defense of liberty and freedom. Today, the Army is the only military service that formally authorizes a Soldier to wear the unit patch of a wartime element on the uniform, publicly confirming the individual’s status as a combat veteran. Current regulations only authorize wear of the patch of the regular higher headquarters; although 7th Engineer Battalion is attached to 555th Engineer Brigade and is working in general support to 34th Infantry Division, Soldiers will wear the 20th Engineer Brigade patch. “Each one of you (has) earned this through your support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and you should wear this with honor and pride – pride in yourself and your fellow Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Chris Barron, 7th Engineer Battalion commander, during the patch ceremony.Most of the battalion, which left Fort Drum in early June, is currently serving its first tour in Iraq. The 630th Clearance Company, which recently arrived in Afghanistan, will work in support of coalition forces in Regional Command South. The 95th and 520th Firefighting Detachments deployed to Afghanistan earlier this week.