CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – After 30 days on the ground in southwestern Afghanistan, the 307th Engineer Battalion and Task Force S.A.W., led by Lt Col. Brett G. Sylvia, donned their combat patches on March 19.
The 307th, along with several other companies in theater, formed Task Force S.A.W. (Sapper, Athlete, Warrior) in mid-Feb. The task force falls under the leadership of the Theater Engineer Brigade, Joint Task Force Triple Nickel, in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Their mission is to conduct partnership operations with the Afghan Army Engineers and conduct route clearance patrols to ensure freedom of mobility and safe passageway for Afghan civilians and coalition forces. U.S. route clearance packages will also conduct partnered patrols with ANA forces.
During the patching ceremony, over 100 Soldiers were awarded the 20th Engineer Brigade combat patch for their wartime service. The ceremony was presided over by the TF S.A.W. executive officer, Maj. Joshua Thibeault. The JTF Triple Nickel brigade commander, Col. Nicholas Katers, and Command Sgt. Maj. Maj. Kevin Bryan also attended.
The combat patch is a tradition that the U.S. Army started in World War II. It is regulated by Army Regulation 670-1 and is awarded to soldiers who are “assigned to U.S. Army units that actively participate in, or support ground combat operations, against hostile forces. To qualify for the combat patch, soldiers must be assigned to a unit serving in a declared hostile environment, and receive the approval of the Army Chief of Staff.”
The 307th Eng. Bn., has served in combat during World War I, World War II, in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, and during Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and most recently, Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Most of you will serve in many other units throughout your military careers, but the unit patch you’ll soon have on your right shoulder will forever remain that of the 307th Engineer Battalion,” said Thibeault in his address to the soldiers. “I ask that every one of you wear it with pride.”
Katers also spoke of the importance and pride of this right sleeve shoulder insignia. Now in Brigade Command, he has had many opportunities to serve in several different units and as he spoke he reminisced about the significance of his first combat tour.
Even though the soldiers of TF S.A.W. have now earned their combat patches the work has only just begun. They have hit the 30-day milestone and will continue to move forward through the rest of their deployment.