Author Topic: Pieces of Flair: Is a Combat Patch a Measure of Military Contribution?  (Read 875 times)

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Offline Dimsum

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On a humid August morning outside our battalion headquarters at Fort Campbell, I stood with a gaggle of others waiting to form up for an awards ceremony. A warm wind wafted across the parade field, carrying the scent of the lunch meal from the nearby dining facility. It was 1991, over a year since the phone first rang, alerting me to report to Campbell Army Airfield and prepare for deployment to Saudi Arabia. As the battalion commander and command sergeant major made their way through the formation, we were each presented with what the Army euphemistically refers to as “shoulder sleeve insignia – former wartime service.” Our combat patches for Operation Desert Storm.

In the years that followed, I came to learn how much that simple patch meant to so many. In some ways, it was a rite of passage in the profession of arms, almost a symbol of one’s induction into the warrior caste. It demanded a certain level of respect, regardless of whether that respect had actually been earned. In an army in the midst of drawdown, combat patches were increasingly rare, and those who had earned them tended to wear them with a certain amount of pride.

Fast forward a generation, and to some, combat patches come across like “pieces of flair.” When it seems like everybody has one, do they really mean that much? Many argue that in the Army of today, a binary symbol of combat service isn’t an accurate measure of someone’s full contribution. Others still will decry “slick sleeves” – a not uncommon derogatory reference to servicemembers without wartime service – as not having met the true “bar” for veteran status.

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Online tomahawk6

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I remember my dad a ww2 vet wore the combat patch of the division he had been with. It was the 97th I think. He got asked by many what unit it was so he removed it from his uniform.  :rofl:
Combat service is important to career progression hence the patch. Infantrymen have the Combat Infantry Badge and during Iraq the Army created the Combat Action Badge for the non-infantrymen.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 09:42:42 by tomahawk6 »