CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq (Army News Service, Aug. 19, 2008) - Most generations in American history experienced a major war; one which produced combat veterans. Operation Iraqi Freedom is producing the next generation and some of the best combat veterans America has ever seen.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Long Knife Brigade, deployed in support of OIF a little over two months ago, and their brigade's 4th Special Troop Battalion, Spartan, officially received their combat patches during a ceremony at Contingency Operating Base Adder Aug. 13.

"Becoming a combat veteran feels very good," said Pfc. Roy Bankhead, a Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operator.

Bankhead's job is to inform our infantry troops of what lies around that proverbial corner his brothers can't see. "I make sure our troops on the ground have what they need - information and imagery-wise."

First-term Soldiers like Bankhead, assigned to the Long Knife STB, are proud to wear their first combat patch.

"It's awesome to be a 1st Cav. combat veteran," said Spc. Jessica Robinson, whose company held a special promotion ceremony after the combat patch ceremony for the former-private first class. Robinson is a signal intelligence analyst assigned to STB's Company A.

The unit took a moment during the ceremony to recognize those sacrifices the Soldiers of the Spartan Battalion and Long Knife Brigade continue to make.

"This is a very significant day for our Soldiers, especially the ones who haven't been deployed before," said Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Eger, the battalion's senior enlisted leader. "It's not just slapping the patch onto the right shoulder and moving on."

The Long Knife Brigade leaders took time to ensure this ceremony was meaningful, and the Soldiers understood their accomplishments.

"This time, with the Long Knife Brigade, it felt kind of special," said Spc. Vanessa Fricke of the ceremony in comparison to her first deployment in 2006. "I was working in a holding area last time, and my squad leader slapped the combat patch on my shoulder. He said that I was in a combat zone and that I had earned it," explained the military police Soldier assigned to the battalion headquarters.

"But, this ceremony made me stand proud on the inside. I'm standing prouder than I am tall," the 5-foot-3 military police Soldier joked.