I was recently informed of the policy requiring soldiers to wear the combat patch of that unit. Presumably, the purpose is to instill some pride and cohesion for a unit that is composed of a variety of smaller units.
However, I wear the patch of the 101st Airborne Division as my combat patch, which I earned during two previous deployments. During these combat operations, I witnessed great heroics and tragedies by other brave men wearing the same patch.
When I consider taking off the patch I have so proudly worn, the most stirring memory I have is when my sergeant major was killed. I was the medic with the platoon sent to secure the site and the body. Insurgents had torn the patches and flag off of his uniform, and we did not leave until we found all of them. It gave us strength, knowing that we had restored the dignity of our fallen leader.
Every day when I put on the Screaming Eagle, I do it for him and other warriors who have died. To put a policy in effect in direct conflict with Army Regulation 670-1 and the Multi-National Corps—Iraq’s policy memo regarding uniform wear (both state that the wear of a combat patch is the individual soldier’s choice) is something I have to protest. It goes against every fiber of my being to submit to this policy, but I have been told, essentially, to do it or my career might be at stake.
This treatment scares me, as I am interested in displaying my pride in the unit I went to war with and remaining in the Army.
I feel that by submitting to this ill-conceived policy, I will be giving up an option that is, by regulation and policy, mine.
Pfc. Dirk DietersCamp Speicher, Iraq