17 September 2010

Wearing the 'Steak Sandwich'

Here's another installment from Red Bull Rising's series titled, "How to Read a Uniform." On the U.S. Army uniform, the unit patch is worn on the left sleeve. As we discussed earlier this week, most of the soldiers currently assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34 BCT) wear the red bull patch designed by artist Marvin Cone in 1917.

The exception is the Nebraska Army National Guard's 1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment (1/134 Cavalry). They wear the "Pike"--a pole arm similar to a spear, once used by medieval troops--of the 67th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade (Bf.S.B.). If I were more clever, I'd make some joke about bullfighting and Picadors, but then I'd also be forced to observe that the bull never seems to do very well in those types of sporting events. Secret memo to self: "Pikes always beat bulls."


All 2-34 BCT soldiers, regardless of whether they have the Pike or the Red Bull on their sleeves, will wear Red Bull insignia on their Advanced Combat Helmets (A.C.H.). (See photo, above, for what that looks like.)

U.S. soldiers who have deployed to a combat area are allowed to wear a "Shoulder Sleeve Insignia" patch on their right sleeve, a tradition that goes back to World War I. Rules regarding these "combat patches" have changed a little in recent years, but generally the soldier wears the patch of the lowest-level deployable headquarters to which the soldier was assigned combat duty.

Only the U.S. Army wears combat patches, although recent practice allowed select Army units to wear the insignia of U.S. Marine units under which they had served.

Veterans of the following recent deployments may wear the Red Bull patch on both the left and right sleeves:
  • Operation Enduring Freedom (O.E.F.), 2004-2005: Task Force 168 (1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment).
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom (O.I.F.), 2005-2007: 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (1-34 BCT).
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2007-2008: 34th Infantry Division Headquarters.
Occasionally, you'll hear the double-bull patch referred to by soldiers as a "steak sandwich." (Get it?! A bull on each side!) I've also heard it called a "doub-bull," and pronounced like those old Saturday Night Live skits about Chicago's Michael Jordan: "DA-bulls!"

(Remember the Iowa National Guard's 734th Agri-business Development Team? They wear Iowa National Guard's "Hawkeye" patch on their left, and now the "Screaming Eagle" of the 101st Airborne Division on their right. Does this qualify as a "chicken sandwich"? Only if you want to start a fight!)


  1. A steak sandwich? That is too funny. Gotta love Army humor.

  2. A few of us together is more like a stampede.

  3. Someone on the Facebook net suggested "Red Bull in STEREO"! (I use my Official Army-Issue Big Radio Voice when I say it like that.)


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