The imagery of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, or unit patch, sums up the unit and its mission. A bayonet being carried aloft signifies both how the Brigade is transported to an operational area and what its mission is when it arrives: victory in combat. Red, white, and blue were chosen for the insignia because they are the national colors—colors the Brigade has defended almost ceaselessly since it was redesignated the 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop in the 87th Infantry Division during World War II.

Nicknamed “Sky Soldiers,” a sobriquet found on the Brigade’s unit crest, the 173rd Airborne Brigade has been deployed almost nonstop since the Global War on Terror kicked into high gear with the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Following service in Iraq from March 2003 to February 2004, the Brigade was sent to Afghanistan a year later (March 2005), the first of four deployments to Afghanistan between that time and July 2012. The final tour was spent helping Afghan National Security Forces prepare to assume full responsibility for the country’s defenses, and thankfully the Brigade did not suffer any casualties during that deployment.

In 2016, the Army announced that the 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment of the Texas Army National Guard would be paired with the 173rd as part of its Associated Units program. The Battalion will be stationed at the 173rd Airborne Brigade home base of Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, and will wear the unit patch, unit crest and Combat Service ID Badge of the 173rd.

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