KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Service members of NATO Train, Advise, Assist Command South received a special honor Sunday at Kandahar Airfield.
The unit’s senior leaders placed the shoulder sleeve insignia — former wartime service, commonly called the “combat patch” — on their right shoulders.
Brig. Gen. Viet Luong, commander of the southern command, and Command Sgt. Maj. William Forro presided over the ceremony, which tacked on the latest recipients in a time-honored tradition. Soldiers are authorized to wear the patches on the right sleeves of their uniforms after serving in a designated combat zone. Units typically conduct “patching ceremonies” while deployed to commemorate the occasion.
“The significance is in the sacrifice that others have made and the legacy that others have left behind,” Forro said. “It’s an honor to wear that patch, and to try and live up to their legacy.”
Sgt. Matthew Rubin, who is serving on his first deployment, received his patch. “For me, it’s not really about the combat patch,” he said. “It’s about going overseas and being able to do my job as a soldier.”
“It’s an honor to receive the combat patch from (Brig.) Gen. Luong alongside everyone else,” he added.
Rubin, an infantryman, is with Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.
The southern command, however, includes service members from multiple coalition nations. A handful of Australian service members received patches as well.
“I was awed at the rich and proud history of the 1st Cavalry Division. The Australian army has a long and proud history of serving alongside U.S. forces and it’s a privilege to continue this tradition,” said Capt. Braden Theisinger, an engineer officer of the Royal Australian Engineers. In the coalition environment, he works in the command’s Force Protection Cell, which oversees security for coalition personnel serving on Kandahar Airfield.
“Never forget what our soldiers have done and what our soldiers are doing,” he said. “We have soldiers outside the wire every day ... never forget that.”
Air Force Capt. Frank Hartnett contributed to this report.