JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
After 64 years of being sewn onto uniforms, and accompanying Airmen in their daily mission, one Joint Base Charleston - Air Base squadron recently sent their old, tired squadron emblem into retirement and unveiled their newly redesigned emblem for the future.
According to Stan Gohl, 437th Airlift Wing historian, the 437th Maintenance Squadron, activated in 1949, originally never created a squadron emblem, instead relying on Airmen "artists" to create emblems. After years of redesigning and modifying emblems that did not comply with Air Force Instructions, a permanent fix was in order.
Lt. Col Tracey Smith, 437th Maintenance Squadron commander, along with Airmen from the 437th MXS and Gohl, took on the challenge of establishing an official squadron emblem.
According to AFI 84.105, Organizational Lineage, Honors and Heraldry, the process of creating an Air Force emblem is outlined as follows:
· Design must be incorporated into a shield
· Emblem must be uncluttered, and must not exceed three elements
· Must reflect favorably on the United States Air Force
· Must be original, distinctive, dignified and in good taste
· Must not create controversy
· Must not display specific equipment, assigned aircraft or specific geographical locations
· Do not use numbering or lettering within the shield
· Must not infringe on a trademark or copyright
· Must use accepted heraldic symbols or stylized elements
· Do not duplicate existing emblems, badges or flags
· Do not include symbols or caricatures associated with foreign nations or extremist groups, symbols of a morbid nature, or cartoon-like characters
· Do not include symbols of games of chance or gambling devices
However, one aspect of an emblem that is able to be localized is the scroll. A wing or independent group may choose to display either its approved motto or unit designation on the scroll beneath the shield. If a wing doesn't have a motto, the designation will be on the scroll. Either way, a motto or designation cannot be longer than 36 characters.
Colors used in the emblem are also an element in the approval process. When choosing colors; individuals may not use more than six colors. In addition, two of the colors must be Ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow. The yellow must also outline the shield and the scrolls must use a white background edged in Air Force Yellow with blue lettering.
Once the emblem design is created and approved locally by the base historian, it goes to the MAJCOM and Air Force level for approval, before submitting the design to the United States Army Institute of Heraldry in Washington, DC., for final approval.
Based on tradition, squadrons create and obtain approval of an emblem early in their history. Once approved, an emblem is rarely ever replaced and only under certain circumstances can it be changed or modified.
"When a squadron is activated, it [the emblem] lives forever," said Stan Gohl, 437th Airlift Wing historian. "It may experience a period of inactivation, but once it's reactivated, the history of that squadron returns with its name."
According to Gohl, an approved squadron emblem is its coat of arms and everlasting visible legacy.
"The 437th MXS was first activated on June 27, 1949, as a traditional Reserve squadron assigned to the 437th Troop Carrier Wing stationed in Chicago," said Gohl.
Throughout its history, the 437th MXS has been redesignated multiple times. Redesignation occurs when the squadron name changes, but has no tangible effect on the mission.
"The designation changed from a maintenance squadron to a field maintenance squadron, to an equipment maintenance squadron, before finally changing back to a maintenance squadron," said Gohl.
Today's 437th MXS emblem will remain the face of the squadron for the rest of time. Its colors are Ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow. The blue alludes to the sky, primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The background of day and night sky indicates around-the-clock maintenance operations. The sun resembles a compass rose, symbolizing the squadron's mission of support in keeping the unit's aircraft flying worldwide. The stars, in a constellation cluster, represent the teamwork required among active-duty and Air Reserve component officer and enlisted members and civilians to make the mission happen.
The Latin motto, "Ad Exacta Capaces," which translates to "Can Do" in English, expresses the spirit of unit personnel.
"It is possible that 20 years from now, your family members may be assigned to the 437th MXS and they too will look upon this emblem and its motto of 'Can Do," said Gohl. "And, they will continue that legacy."