IRAQ – Soldiers serving with the Patriot Brigade in Iraq have been awarded their combat patch – marking their deployment to a combat zone.
Col. Brian Sullivan, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), presented the combat patch to 3rd BCT troops during a recent ceremony held at their forward operating base in Iraq.
The combat patch, officially known as the shoulder sleeve insignia-former wartime service, is authorized for wear after 30 days of service in a combat theater.
Among the Soldiers who received the combat patch was Pfc. Dashon Brown, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment.
"I felt like I accomplished something that I know most people will never experience in their lifetime," Brown said. "I felt a sense of pride in what I have done."
Brown was so overjoyed by his accomplishment that he phoned a loved one back home to share the significance of the ceremony.
"I called my father, who is active-duty Army, and he said ‘welcome to the club,’" Brown said. "He is very proud that his son has deployed and followed his footsteps."
The Patriot Brigade is the first active-duty brigade combat team to be awarded a National Guard patch as a combat patch under the Associated Unit Pilot, or AUP. Many Soldiers and leaders of the Patriot Brigade felt a sense of pride at being part of this significant partnership.
"By Army regulation, a Soldier’s former wartime service shoulder sleeve insignia is the same as the Soldier’s shoulder sleeve insignia when he or she deployed," Sullivan explained. "As we were wearing the 36 ID patch as part of the AUP when we deployed, the 36th Infantry Division patch rightfully became our combat patch. Being from Fort Polk, assigned to 10th Mountain Division, and associated with 36th ID, I see it as a unique privilege to represent the total Army as we execute this mission."
Sgt. Maj. Vladimir Querales, operations senior enlisted adviser for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said he was personally touched when Sullivan explained the full significance of the patch.
"My favorite part of the ceremony was when the commander spoke to the Soldiers and explained to them the significance of both the unit patch on the left side, and the combat patch on the right side," Querales said. "He said, ‘The left side patch is close to the U.S. Army name tape and is lined up with unit and mission. The combat patch on the right shoulder is lined up with the Soldier’s name tape and signifies the sacrifices of the Families and friends they have left behind.’ With this analogy, the Soldiers really embraced the moment."
Sullivan ended the parade with a special message to the Families and loved ones of the deployed troops.
"I’d like to thank the Soldiers and Families of the Patriot Brigade for their selflessness and their sacrifice," Sullivan said. "It is a privilege of a lifetime to command this brigade, particularly at this time and in this place and to be associated with such exceptional Americans."
The Patriot Brigade, which recently deployed as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, is dedicated to defeating ISIS in Iraq and restoring stability and security for the Iraqi people.