KABUL – Massachusetts Army National Guardsmen held a ceremony to recognize their past and present wartime service in Patriot Square, Camp Phoenix here April 28, 2011.
Army Col. John A. Hammond, Commander of the 26th “Yankee” Brigade, Massachusetts Army National Guard presented Soldiers with shoulder sleeve insignia denoting wartime service. The Army is the only U.S. military service that authorizes the wear of a unit patch to signify wartime service.
Noting the significance of the award in a speech Hammond said, “Today, the current Soldiers of the 26th were presented with a traditional 26th ‘Yankee’ Division Combat Patch. You will now join three previous generations of Yankee Soldiers who have earned the right to proudly wear this patch on their right shoulder in recognition of their wartime service,” said Hammond.
During the ceremony French Col. Jean-Francois Vasseur, Commander of the Epidote 27th French Contingent, attached a battle streamer to the 26th’s Brigade Colors representing the French Croix de Guerre award. Croix de Guerre translates into English as Cross of War.
The ceremony was symbolic of Franco-American cooperation during global conflict.
Addressing French and American Soldiers, Col. Gerard Fridmann, Deputy Commander, 26th “Yankee” Brigade, Task Force Yankee, Massachusetts Army National Guard said, “In April of 1918 a regiment of the ‘Yankee’ Division became the first American military unit ever to be decorated by a foreign power when General Passega of the French Army pinned the Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star on their colors for Heroism at Apremont France,” said Fridmann.
Twelve French Soldiers were also recognized for their service during the ceremony by being welcomed as honorary members of the 26th. Addressing the audience Fridmann said, “These individuals have faithfully executed their duties as Soldiers during Operation Enduring Freedom, while supporting the United States Forces at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan. In recognition of the aforementioned performance, skills, and support of ‘Yankee’ Brigade operations, they are hereby recognized as honorary ‘Yankee’ Brigade Soldiers,” said Fridmann.
On April 2, 2011 anti-Afghan Forces attacked Camp Phoenix but were stopped by Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard, members of the 1-134th Cavalry Regiment and coalition forces that were on guard duty. French Cpl. Chef Christoph Pointurier assisted in repelling the enemy attack and received an honorary Combat Infantry Badge during the ceremony.
The 26th “Yankee” Brigade provides command and control, security and support operations for U.S. and coalition forces operating in the capital region. More than 9,000 Servicemembers, contractors and coalition forces live and work on the Kabul Base Cluster.