Two flashes of lightning on the CSIB (Combat Service Identification Badge) of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade simultaneously evoke the brigade’s nickname and heritage. Upon its constitution in July, 1918, the brigade was assigned to the 17th Division, which was known as the “Thunderbolt Division.” The unit adopted the nickname as well—quite appropriately, since the brigade’s stock in trade is associated with the thunderous booms and brilliant flashes of artillery fire, which is represented on the CSIB by lightning bolts.

In the midst of World War II, the brigade—now designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB), 17th Field Artillery Brigade—was activated in January, 1943 and landed in Normandy a week after D-Day and began fighting in the Normandy Campaign; during the interim, the unit’s designation had changed to HHB VII Corps Artillery. Between the landing at Normandy and the conclusion of the war, the unit took part in five campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe.

As part of VIII Corps, it was deployed in Germany from the 1950s through the end of the Cold War, receiving the new designation HHB, 17th Field Artillery Brigade in 1978. The brigade took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and was subsequently redeployed there in 2005; it earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for its actions during 2005-2006. When the brigade moved to Fort Lewis in Washington after its return from Iraq, it received its current designation of the 17th Fires Brigade before its third deployment to Iraq, this time to Basra in the summer of 2009.

In February, 2014, the unit reveretd to its longtime designation as the 17th Field Artillery Brigade for purposes of standardization.
Like the brigade’s Unit Crest, or Distinctive Unit Insignia, the Thunderbolt Brigade’s CSIB uses a palette consisting of scarlet and yellow—the colors used by units in the Artillery Corps.

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