KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The transfer of authority ceremony, officially passing responsibility from Task Force Lumberjack to Task Force Iron Fist, occurred June 26, 2013. A week later, soldiers of the Forward Support Company and Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 4th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, received their wartime shoulder sleeve insignia on July 4, 2013, denoting service in a combat theater.

Task Force Lumberjack, commanded by Lt. Col. Jason Kelly, handed over the operational reins to Task Force Iron Fist, commanded by Lt. Col. Daniel Hibner of Michigan City, Ind. TF Iron Fist consists of Forward Support Company and Headquarters and Headquarters Company from Fort Carson, Colo., 372nd Engineer Company from Wisconsin, 333rd Engineer Company from Pennsylvania, the 591st Sapper Company from Fort Campbell, Ky., 837th Route Clearance Company from Ohio, and 819th Route Clearance Company from Arizona.

Task Force Iron Fist operates throughout Regional Command South. The Task Force focuses on construction projects, route clearance patrols, and Afghan National Army development.
In his speech at the patch ceremony, Lt. Col. Hibner explained the significance of the day, both as Independence Day, and as a ceremonial day to don the 555th Engineer Brigade patch on their right shoulders.

He chose the Fourth of July as the patch ceremony date for two reasons: the battalion has been deployed for about a month, and secondly, to conjoin the pride we feel as Americans on the Fourth of July with that of the pride we feel when putting on our combat patches and serving our nation in a combat environment.

"The same sense of patriotism that drove early Americans to fight for independence is in many ways the same sense of patriotism that drives soldiers to serve today," said Hibner. "The combat patch is something soldiers are authorized to wear every day until they leave the Army, which will remind them of their service to our nation at a time of war."

Thesoldiers of the 4th Engineer Battalion feel the pride Lt. Col. Hibner discussed. Pfc. James O'Rourke of Orange County, N.Y., a human resources clerk in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, said wearing the patch on his right shoulder makes him feel like he has done his actual job.

That feeling was shared by others in the unit.

"It feels good to be a part of the unit and help out with whatever I can," said Sgt. Acofaafetai Dominguez, originally from Hawaii of the Forward Support Company.

These soldiers expressed the service and patriotism which Lt. Col. Hibner saluted in his ceremonial address.

The 4th Engineer Battalion has had a busy month from assuming command to receiving combat patches.