Heraldry's return honors proud lineage, famous artist

  • Published
  • By James D'Angina
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Nearly 43 years to the day after creation, Air Force officials approved the 353rd Special Operations Group's request to reinstate its original emblem.

Cartoonist Milton Caniff designed the original emblem specifically for the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing, a unit the 353rd SOG traces its lineage to, and officially signed his original artwork design for the emblem over to the U.S. Air Force April 13, 1967.

"We're tremendously excited to return our emblem to its original form," said Col. Robert Toth, the 353rd SOG commander. "Our original emblem is a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork, designed by a gifted artist who held the Air Force in the highest regards. The return to the original emblem is our way of paying tribute to the BATCATS that came before us, and the artist who donated his exceptional artwork to us for our emblem."

The original emblem was officially changed March 13, 1995, after then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak conducted a review of every emblem within the Air Force. The general instituted new guidelines for emblems and altered the original 353rd SOG emblem to meet the new standards.

Mr. Caniff, was a world-renowned cartoonist of "Terry and the Pirates" and "Steve Canyon" fame. He was a lifetime proponent of the U.S. Air Force. He even based one of his most popular characters on Colonel Philip Cochran, a co-commander of the 1st Air Commando Group and one of the founding fathers of Air Force special operations.

The 353rd Special Operations Group traces its lineage 553rd Reconnaissance Wing that served in Southeast Asia and the 3rd Air Commando Group during World War II.