In a time-honored tradition, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, based in Marion, Illinois, with units in West Frankfort, Mount Vernon, Litchfield and Effingham, Illinois, received combat patches for their overseas deployment during recent ceremonies in the U.S. Army Central Command area of responsibility.
“The awarding of the shoulder sleeve insignia for wartime service, better known as the combat patch, is a tradition that first began during the Revolutionary War under General George Washington,” Lt. Col. Gregory P. Settle, of Effingham, Illinois, Commander of the 2-130th, told the nearly 400 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers taking part in the ceremony. “It is an honor to receive a combat patch and your work here has earned you that honor.”
According to guidelines published by the U.S. Army, the Army combat patch, officially known as the ‘shoulder sleeve insignia-former wartime service,’ recognizes Soldiers' participation in combat operations.
To be eligible for the combat patch, Soldiers must be serving in a theater or an area of operation designated as a hostile environment or serving during a war period as declared by Congress.
“The rituals of significant events mark those important life moments and etch them into our collective memories,” said Settle. “Your actions have helped ensure stability in the region and the relationship between the United States and our hosts remains strong and infallible.”
Nearly 400 Illinois Army National Guard troops from the 2-130th mobilized Jan. 21. They trained at Fort Bliss, Texas, before departing for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Known as the ‘Blackhawk Battalion,’ the 2-130th’s military history dates back to the early 1700s with the formation of the Militia Companies at the villages of Kaskaskia and Cahokia. The unit has served honorably in the Black Hawk War, Civil War, Spanish American War, Mexican Border War, World War I, World War II, Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiers with the 2-130th Infantry Regiment served in Kuwait in support of Operation Desert Spring in 2000-2001.
In 2002, following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the unit was deployed to Europe as part of Task Force Santa Fe, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soldiers with the 2-130th made history in the summer of 2004, becoming the first United States troops to train in Bulgaria after the previous Soviet Bloc nation was accepted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The unit also deployed to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 as part of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.