News: Ninety-three years of military history: CAB Soldiers don combat patches
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Soldiers of the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division joined the ranks of combat veterans, May 2, when they were awarded the 1st Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia for former wartime service, more commonly known as the combat patch.
Soldiers donned the patch during a ceremony in front of the brigade headquarters, the battalion areas and other bases around Iraq at which the CAB has aircraft.
The date of the patch ceremony also held additional significance in that May 2, is the anniversary of the 1st Infantry Division's authorization.
On May 2, 1917, less than a month after declaring war on Germany, President Woodrow Wilson authorized the formation of the American Expeditionary Forces. Maj. Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing was given command of the new unit.
"They were called the 1st Division, then they were called the Fighting First, then finally the 1st Infantry Division, but most just call us the Big Red One," said Col. Frank Muth, the CAB commander.
The Big Red One, or "BRO", refers to the patch that the CAB Soldiers wear.
"Our patch has been worn for 93 years, fighting on the battlefields of North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, Vietnam, Kuwait and Iraq," Muth said to his troops. "Our division is steeped in pride and has been proven in battle. You steely-eyed warriors have just become part of that lineage."
The history of the combat patch dates back to the end of World War II, when the wear of a unit patch on the right shoulder was approved to denote service in combat with that unit. The combat patch symbolizes not only serving with a specific unit during combat, but also that Soldiers of the unit are forever bonded to the past and now share a visible statement of shared commitment, value and hardship.
"Today you have earned the right to proudly say, 'I have served in combat,' and with even more pride and greater enthusiasm I have not only served in combat, but I had the honor and distinction to serve in combat with the oldest, most historic division in the United States Army," Muth said.