By Sgt. Justin A Moeller (101st Airborne)June 15, 2013
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Approximately 6,600 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division, including the Currahees, filled the sky above Normandy as they entered in to combat for the first time, June 6, 1944.
In support of Operation Enduring Freedom, 69 years later, the Currahees are still answering their nation's call to service.
Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team "Currahee", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), donned their "Screaming Eagle" Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, June 6.
Also known as the combat patch, SSI-FWS is worn on the upper right shoulder of the Soldier's uniform, just below the American flag, denoting participation in a former wartime service.
"It's really nice to finally get to wear a combat patch, I was kind of getting sick of being a 'slick-sleeve'," said Pfc. Katie Dove, a medic with Company C, 801st Brigade Support Battalion, 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. She wears the 101st "Screaming Eagle" combat patch with pride, now feeling camaraderie with the medics and all other servicemembers who have had the opportunity to do their job down-range.
That pride comes from the rich history the 101st Abn. Div., has built upon since they first set their feet on foreign soil in combat.
"The 101st Airborne division is 71 years old, but 69 years ago today the first Currahees, the first 'Screaming Eagles', were fighting for their lives," said Col. Val C. Keaveny Jr., commander of the 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. He told the Soldiers that they were not just putting on a combat patch, they were putting on 69 years of history, and 69 years ago, the Currahees set a very high bar that we have to live up to.
Having the Soldiers don their patches 69 years after D-Day helped make this day even more important for the Currahees.
"Wearing this patch means a lot to me and the most important thing is the significance of what this day represents," said Capt. Abby Raymond, the brigade dentist for the 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. "This is my first deployment and being able to have that camaraderie with others in the 101st Airborne Division is also really important."
There were a number of Soldiers who earned "Screaming Eagle" as their first combat patch, there were some who have been waiting to earn this patch for some time.
"It took me 24 years to get this patch," Col. Keaveny said. "I am incredibly proud of it and incredibly honored. We took 15 minutes to put a patch on [the Soldiers] right shoulder and forever, they are now undeniably part of the 101st family."
"I'm happy to be a part of the 101st," said Capt. Raymond. "I will now always be a member of the 101st and a Currahee."