Soldiers participate in special ceremony for combat patch

3rd Sustainment Brigade
Courtesy Story

Date: 01.06.2011
Posted: 01.24.2011 09:15
News ID: 64105
Soldiers participate in special ceremony for combat patch

By Staff Sgt. Pat Caldwell<br /> <br /> JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq— Tradition plays a big role with any military outfit, and eastern Oregon’s Army Guard unit is no exception.<br /> <br /> Earlier this month, members of the 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), participated in a time-honored event called a patch ceremony at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.<br /> <br /> During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Phil Appleton, battalion commander, and a native of Silverton, Ore., placed the 3-116th Cav. Reg. unit insignia on the right arm of Guardsmen serving on their first deployment.<br /> <br /> The event is a historic ritual for Guardsmen, Appleton said. Ordinarily each soldier wears the patch of his or her unit on the left arm. When a unit is deployed to combat, each soldier earns the privilege of wearing the unit patch on their right arm. <br /> <br /> “It is a defining moment when they wear the patch,” said Appleton. “People will see they’ve deployed and gone to combat.”<br /> <br /> Appleton, a former Union County resident, said the right arm patch is significant.<br /> <br /> “I remember back when I was a Joe in 1986,” he reminisced. “Guys with combat patches were seen as a different kind of soldier. They were combat vets.”<br /> <br /> The 3rd Sus. Bde. is spread across central Iraq with its headquarters situated at JBB. Each unit in the battalion will conduct a patch ceremony this month.<br /> <br /> Appleton said he was pleased to be able to bestow the right shoulder patch of the 116th Cav. Reg. to the men and women of the battalion.<br /> <br /> “It felt great, especially when the majority of the troops were privates and specialists,” he said.<br /> <br /> Appleton conceded the demographics of the 3rd Bn. are different than during the unit’s first deployment in 2004.<br /> <br /> “During the first deployment a lot of the guys wearing the (right) patch were older soldiers,” he said. “Now, these young kids will take this experience and remember it the rest of their lives.”<br /> <br /> Staff Sgt. Chris Hamby, non-commissioned officer in charge of the theater operations center for the 3-116th Cav. Reg. and native of Athena, Ore., said the right combat shoulder patch secured substance for him when he was a boy.<br /> <br /> “Ever since I was a kid and saw the 1st Infantry Division patch on my grandfather’s uniform, I felt like I owed him and my country to do what we do,” he said “The significance of the patch I have is that I feel like my debt is paid.”<br /> <br /> Command Sgt. Maj. Bill Wyllie, the command sergeant major for the 3-116th Cav. Reg., 3rd Sus. Bde., and native of John Day, Ore., said the ceremony resonated with Guardsmen.<br /> <br /> “The thing I saw was that as I shook their hands, there was pride in their eyes,” Wyllie said.<br />