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Commission: Blue-Gray Patch Stays, Confederate Campaign Streamers Go

08-09-22 WR Patch
08-09-22 WR Patch
Washington Report

The patch of the Army National Guard's storied 29th Infantry Division can stay, but many units would have to remove some campaign streamers under recommendations from the commission examining Confederate ties to U.S. military installations and symbols.

Established during World War I, the shoulder patch division troops still wear today is a blue-and-gray design similar to a yin-yang symbol.

The patch reflects the division's original composition of soldiers from Maryland, a Union state, and Virginia, a Confederate state.

Today, the division, which famously stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day in World War II, has units across multiple states along the Eastern Seaboard.

The eight-member Renaming Commission looked at the patch but was swayed by a groundswell of division veterans and supporters.

“The community of the 29th ID indicates that they view the symbol as a unifying symbol for America,” wrote retired Adm. Michelle J. Howard, the commission chair, in a July letter to members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

But the commission will recommend modifying the heraldry description to remove language implying Confederate service and reconciliation of the North and South.

It will also recommend removing Confederate campaign streamers from the colors of current units that fought for the South in the Civil War. 

The list includes Army Guard units from 11 southern states, with Georgia and Virginia having the most.

For example, there are 11 Confederate campaign streamers on the colors of the 116th Brigade Combat Team, 29th Infantry Division, in Staunton, Virginia.

According to Howard’s letter, the commission will recommend rescinding a 1949 exception to Army regulations permitting the flying of Confederate campaign streamers on unit flags.

“Forty-eight Army units have at least one Confederate campaign streamer; a total of 457 Confederate streamers are presently authorized,” Howard wrote.

As a result of the recommendation to rescind the 1949 exception, “those 457 Confederate battle streamers would no longer be authorized.”

Units that currently have Confederate campaign streamers are listed online within the commission's Defense Department asset inventory. It can be viewed at www.thenamingcommission.gov/inventory.

Created by the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the commission is authorized to recommend new names for military assets — installations, ships, buildings, roads, etc. — honoring Confederate States of America leaders.

Also under its purview are symbols of the Confederacy, such as campaign streamers.

In May, the commission released its recommended new names for nine Army bases recognizing Confederate leaders.

The Commission on the Naming of Items of the Department of Defense that Commemorate the Confederate States of America or Any Person Who Served Voluntarily with the Confederate States of America is its full name. 

It must issue all its recommendations to the Pentagon and Congress by Oct. 1.

Part I: United States Army Bases was released yesterday. It can be viewed at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1i5pxcq-4zUNbS1yRjZYr9cWmVer0Uu5g/view.

The first report includes official naming recommendations for nine Army bases along with the commission’s methodology, candidate research and reasons for its final selections, plus cost estimates for activities associated with renaming bases.

Part II will address assets from the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, while Part III will address all DoD assets not covered in the first two parts.

Submission dates are pending for the report's two final parts.

 - By John Goheen