1st ACB celebrates Independence Day with combat patch ceremonies
July 6, 2011
CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan -- Any soldier who is assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division dons the division's patch on his or her left shoulder sleeve as a formality.
For the division's troopers that fought in the south Pacific to those who scoured the jungles of Vietnam, the right to don the division's patch on their right shoulder sleeve came as recognition of their service in a combat zone.
Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade were christened as 'First Team' combat veterans during combat patch ceremonies July 4, approximately 235 years to the day America declared its independence from Great Britain.
Spaced throughout Afghanistan, each task force within the brigade took the time to commemorate Independence Day with a ceremony.
As the soldiers stood in formation and the 'cav patch' was placed on their right shoulders, a common sentiment of pride echoed throughout each individual ceremony.
"The patch you now wear on both sleeves of your combat uniform is a historic symbol of military strength, honor and excellence that represents soldiers who have fought in every major armed conflict since the division's creation nearly a century ago," said Lt. Col. William Huff, commander, Task Force Lobos, 1st ACB.
Huff, as he addressed his troopers, touched on the lineage that was established during the ceremony.
"As you wear your combat patch, you are forever linked to the First Team members of the past, present and future," he said.
Many of the 1st ACB soldiers had already seen combat with other units and were receiving the division's combat patch for the first time. For others, the occasion marked the first time in their careers that they would fashion a combat patch on their right shoulder sleeve.
One of the first-time combat patch recipients, Pfc. David Caruana, an aviation operations specialist, assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st ACB, saw the ceremony as a rite of passage into a small group of American citizens: those who have served in a combat zone.
"Not too many people can say that they have done what we have over here," said Caruana.
Another soldier, Staff Sgt. Chanell Underwood, a paralegal assigned to HHC, 1st ACB, said that she felt a sense of pride and accomplishment following the ceremony.
She added, "It's been an unbelievable opportunity to deploy for the first time with the 1st Cavalry Division."
Furthermore, Caruana elaborated about what wearing the division's combat patch meant to him.
"It's an absolute honor to wear the biggest unit patch in the U.S. Army on my right shoulder," he said.
Ultimately, while most Americans were watching fireworks, eating hot dogs and spending cherished time with their families, Soldiers stationed seven-thousand miles away from America's eastern seaboard celebrated Independence Day in their own special way.
One other task force commander, Lt. Col. Jeff White, Task Force Guns, 1st ACB, talked about the significance of having the combat patch ceremony on this day.
The idea, he said, was to highlight the collective and individual accomplishments of his unit's Soldiers by having the ceremony on the same day that Americans celebrate the freedom that they enjoy.