By Pfc. Kelly LeCompte, 30th HBCT PAO, MND-BJuly 21, 2009
BAGHDAD - The nearly 900 Soldiers of the 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, joined a select group when they received the coveted combat patch July 19.
The North Carolina National Guard Soldiers were bestowed combat patches on the right sleeve of their uniforms at ceremonies throughout the battalion's area of operations.
The patch, which is the brigade's traditional Old Hickory patch, represents a deployment to a combat theater.
"It's a way for Soldiers to show they have served their country in a combat zone and in theater, whether they're out there fighting the enemy house-to-house, or whether they're support personnel pushing supplies so those troops can continue to fight," said 252nd CAB Command Sgt. Maj. David Smith, from Winston-Salem, N.C.
"It's another way to continue our heritage, to show we are continuing our lineage. The 30th Division, what they started, is still alive through us," he said.
The Soldiers of the Fayetteville-based battalion received their combat patches the day after the 30th's 92nd anniversary.
Old Hickory, then called the 30th Infantry Division, was founded on July 18, 1917, for service in World War I. It comprised National Guard units from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
It was transformed into the 30th Infantry Brigade in 1974, and became the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team following its return from a year-long deployment in Iraq in 2005.
Now, the brigade is made up of Soldiers from North Carolina and includes a battalion from West Virginia. About 4,000 Soldiers from the brigade will receive their patches this month.
Brigade and battalion leadership participated in the ceremonies with the companies' commanders and first sergeants at Joint Security Stations Doura and Saydiyah, both in southern Baghdad; and at Forward Operation Base Falcon, located at Baghdad's southern edge.
"I feel especially proud for the new Soldiers, because I know how it was when I first got my combat patch," said Staff Sgt. Donald Greene, an infantryman on his second deployment. "It was a great feeling and I really felt like I deserved it, and it made me feel like what I was doing was worthwhile."
The Richsquare, N.C., native serves with the Williamston, N.C.-based Company A.
This is the first deployment for Spc. Angel Macias, the company's senior medic. He said he is proud not only to be part of the brigade's history, but his own family's as well.
"Every male in my family has been in the military and now I can go home and feel like I kept the family tradition going," said Macias, of Fayetteville, N.C.
Spc. John Coley, of the Lumberton, N.C.-based Headquarters and Headquarters Company, is also on his first deployment.
"It's an honor, this being my first deployment," said Coley, who hails from Raleigh, N.C. "Now I feel a little more connected to everyone else that has been in a combat zone before."
Staff Sgt. Brian Harvey, who is on his second deployment as an infantryman with the Smithfield, N.C.-based Company B, agreed this strengthens their bonds.
"I think it's a positive reassurance to the guys who this is their first deployment," said Harvey, from Raleigh, N.C. "I think it gives them a sense of pride. For guys like me that have been here before, it brings them into the brotherhood of guys that have deployed."
"They become part of a team," said Sgt. 1st Class Bradley Palmer, a Clayton, N.C., native with Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "About half of the platoon had prior deployments, the other half didn't, and I think this brings them in completely as part of the platoon now.
"Every time you walk by now and somebody sees you with one, they know you've been somewhere, and it's a pretty big deal," said Palmer.