CAMP LEMOMMIER, Djibouti - More than 150 soldiers assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa gathered to don their newly earned combat patch during a ceremony at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Nov. 28, 2015.
The combat patch is a time-honored tradition that dates back to World War I when the 81st Infantry Division, nicknamed “Wildcat”, wore felt patches with the silhouette of a wildcat as they sailed for France.
The patch is still worn today and carries with it the same pride, honor and importance for the few who earn the right to wear it.
“This is my 7th patch, and I am honored to have each and every one of them,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Gregerson, CJTF-HOA effects NCO. “In 2002 I cross trained into the 82nd Airborne because it meant I would get to do my job where it mattered most. That’s what the patch symbolizes for me.”
While some will add the new patch to their growing collection, others are adding it to their uniforms for the first time.
“I wasn’t looking forward to this deployment or being away from my family, but today’s ceremony and this patch changed how I felt about being here,” said Spc. Deontre’ Hemingway, CJTF-HOA intelligence analyst. “I feel like I’m part of something bigger now, like I’m not in this alone.”
The soldiers awarded during the ceremony are now authorized to wear the U.S. Africa Command patch.
The AFRICOM patch consist of a light blue oval-shaped embroidered emblem coming to a point at top and bottom, two palm fronds crossed at base proper, surmounted by a blue oval shield edged with a red border bearing the green landmasses of Africa.
The use of blue alludes to the commitment to the unity and coordination of Africa’s allies to promote the AFRICOM mission. The palm fronds indicate Africa’s hope to achieve unity on the continent and to build partnership throughout the world. Red stands for liberation, and the green denotes prosperity. The landmasses of Africa symbolize the continent’s fortitude and the command’s area of operation.
“I hope these soldiers feel a great deal of pride,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Butler Kendrick Jr., CJTF-HOA command senior enlisted leader. “This is a great accomplishment and they have earned this badge of honor. They are now not only part of the unit, but life time members of this unit.”