JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Soldiers with the 159th Seaport Operations Company out of Fort Story, Va., took part in a combat patch ceremony Oct. 19 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Capt. Philip M. McDowell, commander of the 159th SO Co. and a Charlottesville, Va., native, said his Soldiers have been in Iraq for 83 days and he thought it was better to wait to affix the 7th Sustainment Brigade combat patches.

"We wanted to have the Soldiers get used to the mission first and earn their patch," said McDowell. "We feel the Soldiers are now ready and it is a good time for them to wear their patches."
Attendees were given a brief history of the 7th Sust. Bde. patch and its symbolism.
According to the unit's Web site, the seven rays issuing from the center of the shield refer to the receiving and dispersal of personnel and cargo. A rook - resembling the chess piece that represents a castle - affixed in the middle of the patch, got its name from a Persian word meaning Soldier. according to the site. All this represents the personnel and equipment transferred from one mode of transportation to another by the organization, said the Web site.

The patch was authorized for wear by personnel of the 7th Transportation Group March 1, 1984, the site said. It was re-designated for the 7th Sustainment Brigade, with the description and symbolism updated Oct. 17, 2006, according to the Web site.
Sgt. 1st Class Freddie Raiford, platoon sergeant for the 159th SO Co. and a Miami native, said receiving a combat patch is a special time for a Soldier.

"It's giving honor to those that served before me, presently, and for those who will serve in a combat zone after me," said Raiford, who is on his second deployment to Iraq. "I'm just doing what the nation calls for me to do and I want to do it honorably."

Pfc. Lee Dear, an operations specialist with the 159th SO Co., said it was an honor to be patched, because not many people get to serve their country in a combat environment.
"Deploying with this unit has been a great opportunity for me," said Dear, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native. "We have great leadership here and I've learned a lot from them not only about my job, but about being a leader."

In a speech at the end of the ceremony, McDowell told the 148 assembled Soldiers that the patch is a symbol of selfless service and a reminder that they are forever members of the 7th Sust. Bde. and the Warrior Pride team.
Raiford said his unit wanted to leave its mark on JBB.
"We want everyone to know that 'Warrior Pride' is standing tall and ready to serve," said Raiford.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16