Written by Staff Sgt. Caitlyn Byrne
101st Airborne Division (AA) Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan – The U.S. Army combat patching ceremony is a 100-year tradition, which began in 1918. The combat patch, or Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service, represents a soldier’s participation in an overseas deployment to a hostile environment.
“The combat patch that you don today represents the brother and sisterhood, the lifelong commitment, the service, and the sacrifices of all Screaming Eagles past and present,” said Col. Stanley Sliwinski, commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Sustainment Brigade, as he presided over the ceremony.
“The Old Abe patch is the most recognized patch in the world because it represents the greatest Soldiers in the world. The patch strikes fear in our enemies and is revered by the American people because it represents the most disciplined, highly trained, and lethal Soldiers in the world.” Sliwinski said.
Sliwinski and his Fort Campbell based team recently arrived to Afghanistan and assumed the mission to sustain allied forces in Afghanistan. Although it is the brigade’s fifth time deploying to Afghanistan, the patching ceremony marks a monumental first for many soldiers currently serving in theater.
Sgt. Joviann Sneed, information technology sergeant for the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade and native of Atlanta, Georgia, said that she was honored to have been able to receive her first combat patch.
“This is my first combat deployment, and the feeling of getting my patch was exhilarating,” said Sneed. “My older brother, who is a warrant officer in the Army, is very proud of me; he didn’t think that I would make it past basic training, but after seeing all of the progress that I’ve made, he is very proud of me.”
The symbolism and pride is not lost to those who have deployed before. Master Sgt. Kelvin Ladner, noncommissioned officer in charge of human resources for the brigade, and native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said that it has always been a dream of his to deploy with the 101st Airborne Division.
“It has always been a goal of mine since the first time I heard the cadence ‘Patch on My Shoulder,”’ said Ladner. “Years ago I heard that line, ‘101 patch on my shoulder,’ which is part of a military marching song that speaks of the merits of deploying underneath the 101st Airborne Division, and now the time has finally come for me to receive my own patch, and I am a very proud soldier.”
Sliwinski told his soldiers to be proud of their accomplishments as a brigade, reminding them of the prestigious and honorable lineage that they are now a part of.
“Wear this patch with pride,” Sliwinski stated, “and continue to be an exceptional steward of the Lifeliner and Screaming Eagle legacy that exhibits a touchstone of extraordinary integrity, character, and discipline.”