Unit Shoulder Patch

10th Mountain Division, Light Infantry

I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1991. My Basic Combat Training was completed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Bliss, Texas (both in 1992). My permanent duty station was Fort Drum, New York...the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, Light Infantry. A lot of our training specialized in Extreme Cold Weather Survival/Mountain Warfare.
country of Somalia

I served in Operation Restore Hope, Somalia, Africa from January 1993 through May 1993, as a Doorgunner on a Blackhawk Helicopter. Our main flightline was in the village of Bale Dogle, Somalia, although I spent a lot of time in Kismaayo, Somalia, on QRF status (Quick Reaction Force) as well as the capital city of Mogadishu.

One thing is for certain: there is no place on Earth quite like the United States of America. When you’re safely back home, it’s easy to forget that you enjoy the highest standard of living in the world. But it’s true. You also enjoy a degree of personal freedom that is unprecedented in modern history. Other nations, especially in the western world, often do a halfway decent job of imitating the rights that Americans enjoy. But in America, liberty is part of the very fabric of our society. Nowhere else on the globe are such ideas as those embodied in our Bill of Rights held in such high esteem. In other nations, rights are granted by the government, with the implied caveat that they can be taken away. In America, such rights are considered to be, in the words of Thomas Jefferson “endowed by (the) Creator” and “inalienable.”

These rights and freedoms have resulted in an explosion of American culture. Yes, every nation on Earth has its own unique culture—but in many nations, these traditions merely serve as a way to cling to the past. Ours is the culture of freedom, the culture of today and the future. It is spreading all over the world, faster than anyone in previous generations could possibly have imagined.

Those tyrants who cling to power by keeping their subjects ignorant and submissive fear this spreading culture. It is slowly but surely consuming their backward fiefdoms, infecting their people. The reactionaries cannot stop the contagion. They lash out in fear and ignorance. They call on their youth to sacrifice themselves in order to roll back the rising tide of freedom.

They will inevitably fail. But the danger that they pose should not be dismissed.

Our freedom comes with a price—someone has to stand up to the thugs and tyrants, those evil men whose only response to that which they cannot understand is violence and terror. We cannot afford to be complacent, nor can we rely on appeasement or diplomacy to solve all of our problems. When the time comes, someone has to be prepared to pick up a weapon and take the fight to the enemy. Wars are not won by going on the defensive.

This time it was my turn.

So here I am, in the Horn of Africa, the worst sort of hell imaginable. But a handful of missed holidays and birthdays is a small price to pay for freedom. Others have given so much more.

As we fly in the Blackhawk, buzzing the tree tops, I look down, M60 machine-gun ready to fire, I see those who want to kill me. Their feet naked; they look so young, but their faces look so weathered. Even though their teeth are showing, they're not smiling. Their lips look stone dry; breathing heavily through their hungry mouths. Many have already dropped from exhaustion, but the group doesn't get any smaller. I momentarily look away, but everywhere I look it's the same. The walls of all these buildings are heavily peppered with bullet holes from top to bottom; out from the rubble comes a woman holding her dying offspring. The stench of death is in the air. I try to pin-point it's location but it can be anywhere.

The street lanes are heavily polluted with the corpses of old rusty vehicles with mounted machine-guns. The people don't look much different; some are motionless with flies feasting on their faces. I wonder what they think of us; are we a sign of hope, or are we just another breed of conquistadors?

I am a Veteran.
I don't hunt, because I've been the hunted and I know how it feels. I don't like guns, because I've seen the effects of one, and I don't want to see it again. I answered when I was called, put on a uniform, traveled away from home and did what I was told to do. I didn't run, I didn't hide. I didn't look for some excuse or some way out. I understood the dangers involved and was willing to give my life for my country. I still have that uniform, in a box and will put it on again if the need arises.


Whoever does not have the stomach for this fight, let him depart. Give him money to speed his departure since we wish not to die in that man's company. Whoever lives past today and comes home safely will rouse himself every year on this day, show his neighbor his scars, and tell embellished stories of all their great feats of battle. These stories he will teach his son and from this day until the end of the world we shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for whoever has shed his blood with me shall be my brother. And those men afraid to go will think themselves lesser men as they bear of how we fought and died together.

--Famous Martial Speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, Act IV, Scene III

"War drew us from our homeland in the sunlit springtime of our youth.
Those who did not come back alive remain
in perpetual springtime -- forever young --
And a part of them is with us always."

--Author Unknown

I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
Timothy 2:4:7

10th Mountain Division Shoulder Patch

The shoulder patch for the 10th was approved on January 7, 1944. The blue background of the patch and the crossed bayonets suggest the infantry, the bayonets also form a Roman number "X" (10) representing the unit’s number. The overall shape of the patch is of a powder-keg suggesting the Division’s explosive power. Red, white, and blue suggest the national colors. The word "MOUNTAIN" is white on a blue tab affixed directly above the patch.

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