By Michael Molinaro, U.S. Army Marksmanship UnitApril 4, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 4, 2013) -- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit held one of the shortest yet most significant ceremonies in the unit's 57-year history, donning new Shoulder Sleeve Insignias April 2, at the unit's Ceremony Hill on post.
While it took decades to get to this day, it took all of ten seconds for the Soldiers to remove the Army Star patch they had been wearing and replace it with the unit's new shield-shaped Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, or SSI, the first patch they can all their own.
"For the first time in our unit's history, we have our very own shoulder sleeve insignia that we can call our own," said Lt. Col. Don King Jr., commander, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, or USAMU. "No matter what command we get assigned to from this day until the end of time, this patch is ours and ours alone."
Similar to Soldiers moving from one unit to another over the course of an Army career, the unit's members have transitioned from one patch to another five times since 1956. Upon creation of the unit it fell under the Continental Army Command, or CONARC, wearing the famed patch of the former Army Ground Forces. In 1973, CONARC was divided into two commands: Forces Command, known as FORSCOM, and Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC. The USAMU fell under FORSCOM and donned the patch selected during World War I by General John J. Pershing. In 1995, the USAMU was transferred from TRADOC to the Community Family Support Center, wearing the stylized triangle patch of the CFSC.
The USAMU was once again on the move in 1999, transitioning from CFSC to U.S. Army Recruiting Command, making USARECs Liberty Bell SSI the fourth patch worn by unit members. In 2002, the unit was transferred to the U.S. Army Accessions Support Brigade and began wearing the Army Star patch after it was authorized in 2006.
Last year, the Army G-1 and The Institute of Heraldry approved the unit to develop and design an SSI as an exception to policy. Unit personnel came up with designs and concepts, sent them to the Institute of Heraldry, and then the final version was approved Oct. 24. The new patch has many small details that describe the unique missions of the historic unit.
The crossbow is a weapon of historical significance consisting of a bow mounted on a stock and contains the base elements of marksmanship today: reusable mechanical weapon, projectile and marksman. The golden yellow color represents the excellence and award-winning performance in competition. The direction of the arrows pointing outward symbolizes the combat readiness of the unit and their ability to go anywhere to assist. The convergence of all three weapons at the center of the device signifies precision and accuracy. Teal blue is the designation color of the unit.
"We can never take this patch for granted," said Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond. "So many Soldiers have come before us here and done great things but never had the chance to wear the USAMU patch. Between all of the Soldiers we have trained, the deployments, the championships and medals we have won -- we have won 24 Olympic medals, more than some countries have ever won -- it feels just as great to have a patch that also distinguishes this great unit. By wearing it it ensures that we uphold the standard of excellence that has been set here."