News: New insignia recognizes soldiers’ national mission
Story by 1st Lt. Christian Venhuizen
CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo. – The ripping noise made by the hook-and-loop fastening system (Velcro for those preferring a brand name) is a common occurrence when changing insignias on U.S. Army Combat Uniforms.
Uncommon is the changing of a unit’s patch.
The Army has a special term for those unit patches worn on the sleeves of Soldiers. They’re called “shoulder sleeve insignias.”
Each insignia is a mixture of dyes and threads, with each color an exact shade, and each design an exact shape, all with a documented meaning.
Col. Richard Knowlton, commander of the Wyoming National Guard’s Training Center Command, said hoped to capitalize on the Army’s exactness, with a new insignia and a renewed sense of pride for his Soldiers at the Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center. Not only were the insignias changed, Nov. 18, but the unit’s flag, or guidon, did too.
“Really it came out of the Training Center Command Advisory Council,” Knowlton said. “(Training centers) have a unique mission set and requirements that’s kind of separate from all of the other commands.”
Camp Guernsey provides facilities and services for other units to prepare for federal and state missions. That includes National Guard and other units from other states.
Each Training Center Command, with the permission of that state’s adjutant general, can change to the newer national insignia, Knowlton said.
“It really was recognition of what (the Soldiers) do and that’s important,” said the colonel. “It’s recognition nationwide. That’s why we did this.”
Gone from the sleeves of Training Center Command Soldiers is the “horse and rider” patch. The full-color version of the patch depicts a yellow horse and rider, on a light blue background. The colors symbolize the state’s history, dating back to the Louisiana Purchase, states the Army’s Institute of Heraldry’s website.
The galloping horse and rider, referred to as the “Pony Express” by some Soldiers, represented the vital role of the horse in the settling, development and defense of Wyoming.
In came the newer patch of the Army National Guard Training Center Garrison Command. The blue, yellow and red backgrounds reflect the basic combat branches in the Army, and refer to the “One Army” concept, to include the Army National Guard, active Army and Army Reserves.
It also includes a disc with 13 stars and a Minuteman statue, recalling the origins of the nation and its Citizen Soldiers.
Soldiers’ opinions of the new patch differed.
“It’s interesting,” said Sgt. Jeffery Struble, noting it’s recognizable nationally. “When units come in, they need help; they can see our patch and say ‘Hey, we can get help from these guys.’”
Struble said there are noticeable differences between the color version of the patch, used for dress uniforms, and the subdued version, used on combat uniforms. The subdued version sports fewer colors to better blend into the camouflage pattern of the uniform.
“It looks like a gopher in the subdued, but I think it’ll grow on us,” Struble said. “It looks a lot better in color.”
Struble is relatively new to the unit, receiving his assignment just over a year ago.
Sgt. Earl McCoy became a Soldier over 30 years ago. He began wearing the “horse and rider” on his sleeve in 1986, including the 14 years he’s been assigned to Training Center Command. McCoy said the unit’s former patch has a history, both for him and for the state.
“I’ve heard people say it’s been recognized by friendly forces and the enemy,” said McCoy, of the unit’s former insignia. “Being born and raised in Wyoming, it was a reminder.”
When McCoy left active duty for the National Guard in 1986, he attached the “horse and rider” on his sleeve. The rectangular outline of the insignia is still visible on the Velcro on his arm, covered only partially by the new patch. He said he knows he’ll need to replace the uniform, but smiled at the thought of the longevity he’s shared with symbol.
“To me, the horse is a noble creature. In my heart, it’s right up there with the eagle. A lot of the country was settled by the horse,” McCoy said, noting the new patch has its own good points. “It’s sharp looking, if I hadn’t been attached to the other one for so many reasons, I guess it would be alright.”
Knowlton said he understands the feelings of attachment to the old insignia, noting that’s why some training centers in some states chose to not use the national option.
However, he said it’s similar to Soldiers who have installation management on active-duty Army posts. Those Soldiers don’t wear the same insignia as the division the installation serves.
“It really sets them apart in that if you have an issue or problem, look for someone wearing that patch, and they can help you out,” said Knowlton.
While the “horse and rider” no longer represents Camp Guernsey, the patch is still affixed to the sleeves of the Soldiers assigned to the units in the Wyoming Army National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters and 94th Troop Command.