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Soldiers earn right to Division's Blue Diamond

9 Jul 2004 | Cpl. Paula M. Ritzgerald

Soldiers with Company A, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) received 1st Marine Division patches during a ceremony held here July 9.

Brig. Gen. John F. Kelly, assistant division commander, was on hand to congratulate each of the 25 soldiers.

According to Army regulations, soldiers who serve in a combat environment for at least 30 days are authorized to wear the insignia of the unit they support. The patch is worn on the right shoulder. Officially the patches are called "shoulder sleeve insignia indicating former wartime service," but they're more commonly known as combat patches.

"Since last year during the war, every Army unit that has been assigned to the 1st Marine Division has asked if I would support their wearing our patch," the general explained.

Kelly said the patch is important to the soldiers because it signifies that they've been to war.

"In the Army, soldiers wear a lot of different patches for the schools they've been to and the things they've done," he added. "They wear the patch of the unit they are assigned to on the left arm. It's unique if they have a unit patch on the right arm."

That's why Army Maj. Hugh R. Sutherland, Company A commander, asked the general for patches for his soldiers.

"It's an Army tradition," explained Sutherland. "When you've been to combat, you wear that insignia for the rest of your career. It lets people know that you've seen the horrors of

The Huntsville, Ala., soldier said when he first arrived to Iraq, he thought his unit would be supporting the Army's 4th Infantry Division. After he learned he'd be working with the 1st Marine Division, he was not upset.

"My father was with 4th Infantry Division, so I thought it would be nice to wear the same patch, but my grandfather fought with 1st Marine Division during World War II in Guadalcanal as a Navy corpsman," he said. "Now I get to wear the same patch he wore."

Since arriving here in February, Company A has supported the "Blue Diamond" division's security and stabilization mission here.

According to Army Spc. Wilfredo Sotomayor, the goal of the unit is to work hand-in-hand with the Marines to "win over the general mood of the Iraqi people."

"I've worked with the Air Force in the past, but I never thought I'd be working with Marines," Sotomayor added. "It's been a really good learning experience."

Sotomayor, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said he's enjoyed working with his Marine counterparts and was happy to receive a 1st Marine Division patch.

"It's very cool that we actually got the patches here. It would be difficult to have them made back in the United States," he said. "This will identify us as having worked with the 1st Marine Division in a hostile environment." 

Kelly said he is pleased that the soldiers want to wear the division's patch.

"It's an honor for us as well," the general said. "It's really nice that they want to wear our patch. It means they are proud to serve with Marines."