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64th Medical Detachment unearths rich history

64th Medical Detachment Commander, Lt. Col. Brett Taylor and detachment sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Johnson place five award and campaign participation streamers onto the 64th guidon at a ceremony held in Baumholder, Feb. 2.

Courtesy Story

21st Theater Sustainment Command

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Hundreds of hours of research led to the presentation of a total of five unit awards to the 64th Medical Detachment during a ceremony, Feb. 2, at the Hall of Champions in Baumholder.

The unit was awarded three campaign participation streamers. One for World War II-India-Burma Theater, one for Global War on Terrorism Consolidation III, and one Global War War on Terrorism Transition I. The unit was also awarded two Meritorious Unit Commendations – one embroidered Iraq 2009 and the other Afghanistan 2011-2012.

Capt. Charles Schwarten, enlisted the help of his team — Team 6 – Food Protection and Laboratory Team — to divide and conquer the research after receiving the tasking in April 2017.

“We started in square one,” Schwarten said. “What is a guidon streamer? Can units be awarded guidon streamers for campaign participation?”

The team relied heavily on the National Archives, the National Museum of Health and Medicine, the United States Army Medical Department museum, as well as firsthand accounts from recent members of the unit.

World War II was well documented. Typewriters in the first half of the 20th century aided in the preservation of history. The latter half of the 20th century was trickier due to computers.

“We tried every key word that could possibly trigger a response—‘64th,’ ‘detachment,’ ‘veterinary,’” Schwarten said. “With one search, we hit an actual record of unit activity reports. There was a contact and historian in charge of that section of history. We talked to the historian about reports and options to get them. In the end, there were 600 pages where we were mentioned.”

An $80 processing fee later, all of the documents were scanned and sent.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine was able to provide by-name rosters of the veterinarians who participated in WWII in the China India Burma Theater. The 90th Composite Medical Section served at mile marker 20 of Ledo Road where they supported the Allied forces building and maintaining the Ledo Road, which was the only road available to support the Chinese during the Japanese Invasion. Schwarten remarked that the roll calls actually had colored pencil check marks by the names for each month the Soldier was present in theater.

The AMEDD museum was able to provide an article written by the detachment sergeant from a Senior Leaders Course in the early 2000s.

In order for campaign participation credit to materialize into guidon streamers, a request to add campaign participation history to the unit’s Lineage and Honors has to be submitted through HRC, supported by the U. S. Army Center of Military History, and then approved by HRC. Requirements to be approved includes deployment order or deployment roster, with proof that 65% or more of the unit deployed. Once it is added to the Lineage and Honors, then campaign streamers can be ordered through the U.S. Army Department of Heraldry.

Schwarten and his team submitted the paperwork, November 2017, to add campaign participation credit for the WWII India and Burma Campaign along with two phases of Operation Enduring Freedom to its Lineage and Honors. They received the corresponding streamers, December 2017. As of Feb. 2, the streamers officially fly on the 64th Medical Detachment’s guidon.

In the near future, Cpt. Schwarten hopes to close the loop on the unit’s 2005 deployment to Kuwait and its 2009 deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He currently has all of the documents required for its 2005 participation but is waiting to recover all of the documents from the 2009 deployment before submitting them together.

In the long term, and most likely after his upcoming 9-month deployment to Kosovo, Schwarten would like to research the unit’s contributions to the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

“I want to write the history and submit it to the National Archives to preserve the knowledge so that 50-60 years from now, there will actually be primary documents with who we are and what we did,” he said.

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