The South Carolina National Guard’s 43rd Civil Support Team conducted a patch ceremony on Feb. 22, 2018. During the ceremony, all members were presented with the official Civil Support Team patch worn by most CSTs across the country. Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, the adjutant general, Maj. Gen. R. Van McCarty, the deputy adjutant general and Col. Ronald Taylor, the chief of staff for SCNG, recently approved the wearing of this unique patch for the state’s 43rd CST.
The SCNG’s 43rd Civil Support Team is made up of full-time Army and Air National Guardsmen all of whom are hazmat trained and certified technicians with civilian backgrounds in law enforcement. The CST’s mission is to assist and support federal, state and local first-responders in any incident response occurring in South Carolina.
The South Carolina CST program began in 2001. Since inception, the CST concept has developed into 57 teams throughout the states, providing support and assistance to local and federal civilian agencies who are on the front lines in their communities every day.
CSTs are unique, non-deployable elements, meaning that they will not deploy for overseas engagements as they are already engaged in their areas of responsibility, which is their respective states and communities. CSTs are always the first units to assess situations and provide advice and support to civil authorities.
Because CSTs do not deploy for traditional overseas missions, they don’t get the opportunity to earn a right sleeve combat patch, considered a right of passage and indicator of military members who have deployed in conflicts overseas.
With special permission from the state leadership, however, CSTs like the 43rd can be authorized to wear this unique patch, an honor that unites CSTs across the nation and recognizes the importance of their homeland mission.
Staff Sgt. Michael Brown, operations NCO for the 43rd CST says that wearing the patch is a morale booster for the team.
“Wearing this patch means a lot to me because it shows how we fit into the bigger picture with the other CSTs across the nation,” said Brown. “It identifies us as a part of the total civil support force.”
The patch itself is full of symbolism. In it, there is a modified version of the Coat of Arms of the United States, located on the obverse of the Great Seal, which authenticates our country’s unity and our stand on defending the freedoms of the homeland. The American eagle is a symbol of strength and vigilance. The two stars represent the Adjutant General, the command level in each state to which CSTs report. The ten spears represent the Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST) located in the ten response regions of the United States. The spears also represent the organization’s heightened military readiness posture and indicates that they are the initial military response to ANY WMD attacks. The azure field represents the unit’s ability to conduct continuous day and night operations and red border signifies the resolve to protect and save lives.
The total design signifies the importance of the Teams’ mission to peace and security in defense of our country.
Lt. Col. James Bowling, commander of the 43rd CST, presented the patch to the team during the quiet ceremony, stating, “This patch represents what we are doing, right here in our homeland. This is where we fight. Wear it with pride. Continue to make the state of SC and the program proud.”
Story by Capt. Tammy Muckenfuss, 108th PAD
Photos by Spc. Chelsea Baker, 108th PAD