BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Pvt. Chris Griffin of the 1st Sustainment Brigade received his overseas service patch, or better known to soldiers as the "combat patch" on Oct. 12.
For Pvt. Griffin, it was his first combat patch earned, but it was not the first for the Griffin family. In fact, Pvt. Griffin is the fifth member of his family to wear the 1st SB or the 1st ID as a combat patch.
Both Pvt. Griffin's parents both wear the 1st SB patch on their right sleeve after deploying under the 1st SB.
Pvt. Griffin and his father, Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Griffin share the job as wheeled vehicle mechanics in the Army. Command Sgt. Maj Griffin deployed to Iraq twice while serving under the 1st ID for five years in Kitzingen, Germany, and 1st SB in Fort Riley in 2009-2010. He currently serves under the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, based out of Grafenwoehr, Germany.
Command Sgt. Maj. Griffin's wife, Sgt. 1st Class Wibke Griffin, served as a tank turret repairer, and deployed under the 1st SB, leading a personal security detachment in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007-2008.
Command Sgt. Maj. Griffin's brother, Capt. Nathan Moore, displays the 1st ID patch from his service during 2008-2009, leading Mobile Engagement Training Teams (METT) on the Iraqi border.
The Griffin family great-great grandfather, Cpl. Howard Greenup fought with the 1st Infantry Division in World War I. Cpl. Greenup fought in Meuse Argon, France, in the early years of the 1st Infantry Division and proudly displayed a Big Red One patch on his shoulder.
"We didn't know that he was a 1st ID soldier till we were at our grandmother's place," Pvt. Griffin said. "My father and I found a painting of him and saw the bright-red '1' on his sleeve ... that was pretty cool".
While Command Sgt. Maj. Griffin recalls the days as a recovery specialist in Operation Desert Storm, both Griffins now enjoy a much more modernized battlefield while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"I remember driving across the desert to a phone tent in Iraq to wait in line for two hours and not be able to call through," says Command Sgt. Maj. Griffin, "or when we all read our letters out loud to our friends, because not everyone got to talk to people back home."
Fast-forward 21 years to 2012, Pvt. Griffin speaks about spending time watching DVDs with his father in the Morale Welfare and Recreation facility at Bagram Airfield. Unlike other families, deployment for the Griffins brought them more time together.
"It's great being deployed with him. We didn't get to spend time together this frequent before. Time has been passing by a lot faster when we see each other," said Pvt. Griffin.
"I wanted that patch so bad ... now I have it," said Pvt. Griffin. "My father made command sergeant major in 19 years. Let's see if I can do that faster!"
The history of the combat patch dates back to the end of World War II, when the wearing of the unit patch on the right shoulder was approved to denote service in combat with that unit. To many soldiers, the combat patch is a badge of honor.
The colors of the 1st Sustainment Brigade shoulder sleeve insignia patch are on a bluff vertical rectangular embroidered device coming to a 90-degree angle point at base, a yellow reversed chevron, surmounted over the chevron a vertical red sword, throughout, blade pointing up, all with a 1/8 inch red border. Bluff and red are the colors traditionally used by sustainment units. The reversed chevron signifies support, also illustrating the letter "V," which alludes to the motto "sustain to victory." The red sword symbolizes military readiness and suggests the number "1" (affectionately known to soldiers as the "Big Red One") depicting the Brigade's lineage to the 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One.