13th Bomb Squadron- The Devil's Own Grim Reapers
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The Forming of the Association
| Board Members | Lineage and Honors History | Assignments | Stations | Commanders | Aircraft | Operations | The Story of Oscar | Oscar is Centerpiece of Exhibit | Significance of Logo | Challenge Coin | Explanation of Emblems

The Forming of the Association

An Ad Hoc committee of nine members of the 13th Bomb Squadron Light Night Intruders met on October 6, 1984 to organize the Grim Reaper Association (Korea) These nine men were veterans of the Korean War and had fought together some 30 years before and wanted to get reacquainted with their comrades who had risked their lives on another continent supporting America’s commitment to preserve freedom around the world. Nineteen other attendees gathered on that date at Dayton, Ohio, where the majority of events were held at the Wright Patterson AFB Officers’ Club.

Of the nine man committee, seven were enlisted including five gunners, a line chief, and a radio repairman, plus one pilot and one navigator. Charlie Hinton chaired the meeting.

At the time there were 125 names and addresses known of former squadron members. About half of that number expressed some interest in forming an association. It was proposed that a reunion be held the next year and that annual dues be $25.00, the majority of which would go toward publishing an Association Newsletter.

Two years later in San Francisco 156 attended the third gathering of 13th Eagles and the Association was now a major organization which would grow to over 700 members in the next 24 years. At this reunion the decision was made to change the name of Grim Reaper Association to the 13th Bomb Squadron Association when a public relations misperception was created after a recent murder in California and incidents of devil worship.

In the year 2000 the Association, which was made up of Korean veterans, opened their membership to all former and present members of the 13th Bomb Squadron. That year's reunion at Abilene, TX celebrated the reactivation of the 13th Bomb Squadron, now a B-1 Squadron and the integration of the WW II and B-57/ Vietnam War members with their Korean comrades. Five years later the 13th baton was passed to Whiteman AFB, MO. where Oscar is now riding with the B-2 Stealth Bombers on their missions in the Global War On Terrorism.

We salute those who created and nurtured our current organization which has become the leading Squadron Association in America. Reaper Pride!
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Executive Board of Directors
Robert_Koehne PRESIDENT
Robert R. (Bob) Koehne
23332 SE 225th St.
Maple Valley, WA 98038
Ron Silvia
20 Green Lane
Assonet, MA 02702-1410
James R. (Bob) Parks
3219 Tavern Oaks Street
San Antonio, TX, 78247
Edward_Carvey SECRETARY
Edward T. (Tighe) Carvey
6980 Olympic View Ct.
Silverdale, WA 98383
Bill Hamman
2950 SE Ocean Blvd, Ap 43-6
Stuart, FL 34996
Perry Nuhn
15 Osprey Circle
Okatie, SC 29909-4228
Dan Pipkins
112 Golden Oak Dr.
Macon, GA 31216-5776
Brian Gallo
711 N. Washington Ave.
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Charlie Breitzke
8 Hobkirk Drive
Bella Vista, AR 72715-3404

Sadly, we have lost three of our Board Members,
Ed Connor, our World War II representative,
Dave Clark, the Vietnam War representative, and
Ron Jarrett, Korean War representative.

Previous Association Presidents
1984  Interim President Charles W. Hinton

1985  Robert A. Fortney

1987  Dominico A. (Tony) Curto

1989  Jackie Lee Bugg

1992  Perry F. Palmer

1994  Richard P. Schumann

1998  Charles W. Hinton

2000  Perry R. Nuhn

2004  David T. Spotswood

2010  Robert L. Butterfield

2014  Charles J (Charley) Brown
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Lineage and Honors History of the 13 Bomb Squadron (ACC)

  Organized as 13 Aero Squadron on 14 Jun 1917.  Demobilized on 29 Mar 1919.  Reconstituted, and consolidated (16 Oct 1936) with 104 Aero Squadron, which was organized on 25 Aug 1917. Redesignated:  13 Squadron on 14 Mar 1921; 13 Attack Squadron on 25 Jan 1923.  Inactivated on 27 Jun 1924.  Activated on 1 Nov 1929. Redesignated:  13 Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 15 Sep 1939; 13 Bombardment Squadron (Dive) on 28 Sep 1942; 13 Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 25 May 1943; 13 Bombardment Squadron, Light, Night Intruder on 25 Jun 1951; 13 Bombardment. Squadron, Tactical on 1 Oct 1955.  Discontinued, and inactivated, on 15 Jan 1968. Activated on 8 Feb 1969.  Redesignated 13 Fighter Squadron on 1 Jul 1973.  Inactivated, and redesignated 13 Bombardment Squadron, Tactical, on 30 Sep 1973.  Redesignated 13 Bomb Squadron on 1 May 2000.  Activated on 14 Jun 2000.
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Of 13 Aero Sq
  14 Jun 1917-Jun 1918; 2 Pursuit Group, 28 Jun-Dec 1918; Dec 1918-29 Mar 1919.

Of 104 Aero (later, 13 Attack) Sq:  25 Aug 1917-Aug 1918; V Corps Observation Group, Aug - Dec 1918; Dec 1918-30 Jun 1919; Army Surveillance (later, 1 Surveillance; 3 Attack) Group, 1 Jul 1919-27 Jun 1924.  3 Attack Group, 1 Nov 1929-consolidation.

Of Consolidated Sq:  3 Attack (later, 3 Bombardment) Group, from consolidation (attached to 3 Bombardment Wing, 13 Aug 1956-24 Oct 1957); 3 Bombardment Wing, 25 Oct 1957 (attached to 41 Air Division, 1 Sep 1963-7 Jan 1964); 41 Air Division, 8 Jan 1964; Thirteenth Air Force, c. 10 Apr 1964 (attached to 405 Fighter Wing, 10 Apr- 17 Nov 1964); 405 Fighter Wing, 18 Nov 1964-15 Jan 1968 (attached to: 2 Air Division, 5 Aug-3 Nov 1964, 17 Feb-21 Jun 1965; 6252 Tactical Fighter Wing, 16 Aug-16 Oct 1965, 16 Dec 1965-17 Feb 1966; 35 Tactical Fighter Wing, 17 Apr-17 Jun 1966, 14 Aug-13 Oct 1966, 12 Dec 1966-11 Feb 1967, 11 Apr-8 Jun 1967, 1 Aug-26 Sep 1967, 21 Nov 1967-15 Jan 1968). 15 Tactical Fighter Wing, 8 Feb 1969; Pacific Air Forces, 15 Sep 1969 (attached to 8 Tactical Fighter Wing, 15 Sep-30 Oct 1969); 8 Tactical Fighter Wing, 31 Oct 1969; 405 Fighter Wing, c. 24 Dec 1972-30 Sep 1973.  7 Operations Group, 14 Jun 2000; 509 Operations Group, 9 Sep 2005.
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Of 13 Aero Sq
:  Camp Kelly, TX, 14 Jun 1917; Wilbur Wright Field, OH, 8 Jul 1917; Garden City, NY, 1 Nov-3 Dec 1917; St Maixent, France, 1 Jan 1918; Issoudun, France, 27 Jan 1918 (detachment at Meucon, France, 6 Apr-c. 11 May 1918, and Haussimont, France, c. 11 May-c. 24 Jun 1918); Colombey-les-Belles, France, 5 Jun 1918; Toul, France, 28 Jun 1918; Belrain, France, 23 Sep 1918; Souilly, France, 23 Sep 1918; Colombey-les-Belles, France, 16 Dec 1918; port of embarkation, 6 Feb-3 Mar 1919; Garden City, NY, 13-29 Mar 1919.

Of 104 Aero (later, 13 Attack) Sq:  Kelly Field, TX, 25 Aug 1917; Garden City, NY, 4-22 Nov 1917; Winchester, England, 8 Dec 1917; Upavon, England, 24 Dec 1917 (detachments at Salisbury and Andover, England, 24 Dec 1917-6 Jun 1918; Yatesbury, England, 24 Dec 1917-9 Jul 1918); Netheravon, England, 24 Mar 1918; Salisbury, England, 6 Jun 1918; Winchester, England, 10-18 Jul 1918; St Maixent, France, 22 Jul 1918; Epiez, France, 4 Aug 1918; Luxeuil-les-Bains, France, 8 Aug 1918; Souilly, France, 8 Sep 1918; Foucaucourt, France, 20 Sep 1918; Parois, France, 4 Nov 1918 (flight operated from Barricourt, France, 10 Nov 1918-unkn); Belrain, France, 30 Nov 1918; Colombey-les-Belles, France, 14 Jan 1919; St Denis de Pile, France, 29 Jan 1919; Libourne, France, 3 Feb 1919; Bordeaux, France, 10-18 Apr 1919; Roosevelt Field, NY, c. 28 Apr 1919; Mitchel Field, NY, c. 1 May 1919; Ft Bliss, TX, c. 15 May 1919; Kelly Field, TX, Jun 1919; Ft Bliss, TX, 6 Nov 1919 (flight operated from Marfa, TX, c. 6 Nov 1919-3 Sep 1920; Post Field, OK, 10 Sep-4 Nov 1920; Marfa, TX, 17 Nov 1920-Jun 1921); Kelly Field, TX, 2 Jul 1921-27 Jun 1924. Langley Field, VA, 1 Nov 1929; Ft Crockett, TX, 17 Nov 1929; Barksdale Field, LA, 27 Feb 1935-consolidation.

Of Consolidated Sq:  Barksdale Field, LA, from consolidation; Savannah, GA, 10 Oct 1940-19 Jan 1942; Oakland, CA, 23-31 Jan 1942; Brisbane, Australia, 25 Feb 1942; Charters Towers, Australia, 10 Mar 1942 (detachment operated from Del Monte, Mindanao, 12-14 Apr 1942); Port Moresby, New Guinea, 3 Nov 1942; Charters Towers, Australia, 25 Nov 1942; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 16 Dec 1942; Dobodura, New Guinea, 22 May 1943; Nadzab, New Guinea, 1 Feb 1944; Hollandia, New Guinea, c. 21 May 1944; Dulag, Leyte, 20 Nov 1944; San Jose, Mindoro, 30 Dec 1944; Okinawa, c. 7 Aug 1945; Atsugi, Japan, c. 10 Oct 1945; Yokota AFB (later, AB), Japan, 1 Sep 1946; Johnson AB, Japan, 10 Mar 1950; Iwakuni, Japan, 2 Jul 1950 (temporary); Johnson AB, Japan, c. 20 Jul 1950; Yokota AB, Japan, 14 Aug 1950; Iwakuni, AB, Japan, 1 Dec 1950; Kunsan, Korea, 13 Aug 1951; Johnson AB, Japan, 1 Oct 1954; Yokota AB, Japan, 17 Nov 1960; Clark AB, Philippines, 10 Apr 1964-15 Jan 1968 (deployed at Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, 5 Aug-3 Nov 1964, 17 Feb-16 May 1965; Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, 16 May-21 Jun 1965; Da Nang AB, South Vietnam, 16 Aug- 16 Oct 1965, 16 Dec 1965-17 Feb 1966, 17 Apr- 17 Jun 1966 [operated from Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, 15-22 May 1966], 14 Aug-9 Oct 1966; Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam, 10- 13 Oct 1966, 12 Dec 1966-11 Feb 1967, 11 Apr-8 Jun 1967, 1 Aug-26 Sep 1967, 21 Nov 1967-15 Jan 1968). MacDill AFB, FL, 8 Feb 1969-15 Sep 1969; Ubon RTAFB, Thailand, 15 Sep 1970; Clark AB, Philippines, c. 24 Dec 1972-30 Sep 1973. Dyess AFB, TX, 14 Jun 2000; Whiteman AFB, MO, 3 Jun 2005.
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Of 13 Aero Sq
:  Capt Maxwell Kirby, 14 Jun 1917; 1Lt Charles T. Trowbridge, 18 Sep 1917; 1Lt Raymond C. Sunborn, 26 Jan 1918; 1Lt Hugh O. Ellis, 19 Mar 1918; Capt Charles J. Biddle, 24 Jun 1918; 1Lt Dickinson Este, 24 Oct 1918-unkn.

Of 104 Aero, (later, 13 Attack) Sq:  Lt B. L. Corson, 25 Aug 1917; 1 Lt Edward A. Waters, 25 Sep 1917; 1 Lt J.M. Rhodes, 17 Jun 1918; 1 Lt Edward A. Waters, 2 Jul 1918; Capt Clearton H. Reynolds, 22 Jul 1918-unkn; Capt William R. Holcombe, Aug 1919; Capt Dogan H. Arthur, Nov 1919; 1 Lt Lloyd L. Harvey, Mar 1921; 1Lt William L. Wheeler, 27 Jun 1924-c. Dec 1931; 1 Lt Ralph F. Stearley, by Dec 1931; 1 Lt William L. Wheeler, by Dec 1933; Capt Edward M. Morris, by Dec 1934-c. Oct 1936.

Of Consolidated Sq:  16 Oct 1936-Jul 1937; Maj Auby C. Strickland, Aug 1937; Capt Frank A. Armstrong Jr.,Nov 1939; Maj Bernard S. Thompson,31 Dec 1939-unkn; Maj Arno H. Lueman, c. 1941; Capt James Orr, 19 Jan 1942; Maj Herman F. Lowery, 2 Apr 1942; Maj Alexander G. Evanoff, c. 25 May 1942; Maj Harold V. Maull, c. 25 Nov 1942; Maj David M. Conley, 4 May 1943; Maj Arthur Small, 13 Oct 1943; Capt Theodore G. Fitch, 21 Dec 1943; Maj Alfred E. Baucom, 4 Mar 1944; Capt Richard L. Walker, 27 Aug 1944; Capt Ansel L. Boiter (acting), 19 Mar 1945; Maj Donald J. MacLellan, 27 Mar 1945; Capt Melville W. Fisher, 12 Sep 1945; Capt Howard W. Knudsen, 19 Nov 1945; 1Lt John W. Bryden, 27 Dec 1945; Capt F. M. McMullen, 28 Mar 1946; Capt W. F. Maughan, 1 Jul 1946; Maj Arnold P. Burris, 28 Aug 1946; Maj T. J. Price, 21 Apr 1947; Lt Col J. P. Crocker, 22 Sep 1947; Maj C. H. Gross, 21 Jun 1948; Lt Col Robert E. Jarrell, 12 May 1949; Lt Col Walter S. King, 17 Oct 1950; Maj John J. Davis, 21 Feb 1951; Lt Col Joseph H. Belser, 1 Mar 1951; Lt Col Alvin R. Fortney, 14 Dec 1951; Lt Col Estes B. Sherrill, Jul 1952; Maj Vincent R. LaBerge, Nov 1952; Lt Col David W. Allerdice, 1953; Lt Col Stanley D. Kline, by Jul 1953; Lt Col Richard D.Salter, by Dec 1953; Maj John E. Rees, 16 Jan 1954; Maj Edward F. Taylor, 1 Jul 1954; Maj John E. Rees, 9 Jul 1954; Maj Edward F. Taylor, 16 Aug 1954; Lt Col Robert A. Sedgwick, 22 Aug 1954; Lt Col Arthur Small, 1 Mar 1955; Lt Col William D. Miner, 8 Apr 1955; Lt Col Marcus H. Worde, 14 Jun 1955; Maj Howard W. Ice, 14 May 1958; Lt Col Richard A. Christenson, 9 Jun 1959; Lt Col William W. Sams, 20 Aug 1960; Lt Col Donald A. Luttrell, Aug 1963; Lt Col Billy A. McLeod, Oct 1963; Maj Howard F. O'Neal, 26 Sep 1964; Maj Billy J. Gregory, 2 May 1965; Maj Floren B. Nelson, 4 Jul  1965; Lt Col William J. Amos, 19 Jan 1966; Lt Col George W. Cap, 13 Feb 1967-15 Jan 1968.  8 Feb-22 Apr 1969; Lt Col Paul R. Pitt, 23 Apr 1969; Lt Col Edward K. Matthews, 1 Aug 1971; Lt Col David D. Brandt, 23 Apr 1972-c. 30 Sep 1973.  Lt Col Robert S. McCormack, 14 Jun 2000; Lt Col Gerald P. Plourde, 27 Jul 2001; Lt Col Karl J. Shawhan, 8 Jul 2003; Lt Col Thomas A. Bussiere, 3 Jun 2005; Lt Col William G. Eldridge, 13 Jun 2006; Lt Col Jason R Armagost, 1 July 2008; Lt Col Mark B. Pye 12 Jun 2010; Lt Col Jeffrey T Schreiner 15 June 2012; Lt Col Robert H W Makros 13 June 2014; Lt Col Matthew Newell, 10 June 2016 ; Lt Col Geoffrey M. Steeves, 13 April 2018; Lt Col Michal P. Polidor, 31 May 2019; Lt Col Robert W. Sturgill Jr.
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Of 13 Aero Sq:
  Spad XII, Spad XIII, 1918.

Of 104 Aero (later, 13 Attack) Sq
Salmson 2, 1918; DH-4, 1919-1922, 1923-1924; XB-1A, 1921-1922; GAX (GA-1), 1922-1923. A-3, 1929-1934; A-12, 1934-1936; A-17, 1936.

Of Consolidated Sq:  A-17, 1936-1939; B-12, B-18, 1939-1941; A-20, 1941, 1944-1945; B-25, 1942-1944, A (later B)-26, 1945-1956; B-57, 1956-1968. B-57, 1969-1972.  B-1, 2000-2005; B-2, 2005.

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Of 13 Aero Sq
  Combat as pursuit unit, c. 20 Jul-10 Nov 1918. Of 104 Aero (later, 13 Attack) Sq:  Combat as corps observation unit, 12 Sep-10 Nov 1918.  Mexican border patrol, Nov 1919-Jun 1921.

Of Consolidated Sq:  Combat operations in Southwest Pacific and Western Pacific, 6 Apr 1942-12 Aug 1945. Combat operations in Korea, 28 Jun 1950-27 Jul 1953. Rotating deployed crews flew combat operations in Southeast Asia, May 1964-15 Jan 1968. Combat in Southeast Asia, 17 Oct 1970-10 Apr 1972.  Deployed personnel and aircraft to Afghanistan in early 2002 before returning to the US as the executive agent for the support of the B-1 test program.  Deployed personnel and equipment again to Guam in 2003 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and in 2004 to Afghanistan.  In Jun 2005, the 13th moved to Whiteman AFB, MO and replaced the 325th Bomb Squadron and changed to B-2 aircraft.  Deployed temporarily to Andersen AFB, Guam in Jun 2006 to assist U. S. Pacific Command in maintaining stability and security for the Asiatic-Pacific region.

Service Streamers  None.

Campaign Streamers  World War I:  St Mihiel; Meuse-Argonne; Lorraine.  World War II: Antisubmarine, American Theater; Philippine Islands; East Indies; Papua; Bismarck Archipelago; New Guinea; Leyte; Luzon; Southern Philippines; Western Pacific; Air Offensive, Japan.  Korean War:  UN Defensive; UN Offensive; CCF Intervention; 1st UN Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea, Summer-Fall 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korea, Summer 1953. Vietnam:  Vietnam Advisory; Vietnam Defensive; Vietnam Air; Vietnam Air Offensive; Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II; Southwest Monsoon; Commando Hunt V; Commando Hunt VI; Commando Hunt VII; Vietnam Ceasefire.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers  None.

Decorations  Distinguished Unit Citations:  Philippine Islands, [12-14 Apr] 1942; Philippine Islands, 11-14 Apr 1942; Papua, 23 Jul 1942-23 Jan 1943; New Guinea, 17 Aug 1943; Korea, 27 Jun-31 Jul 1950; Korea, 22 Apr-8 Jul 1951; Korea, 1 May-27 Jun 1953.  Presidential Unit Citations (Southeast Asia):  10 Oct 1966-10 Apr 1967; 6 Jun 1967-18 Jan 1968; 1 Jan-1 Apr 1971. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with the Combat "V" Device:  19 Feb 1965-19 Feb 1966; 15 Sep-31 Dec 1970; 1 Oct 1971-31 Mar 1972.  Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards:  1 Jun 1958-30 Jun 1960; 1 Jul 1960-31 Mar
1962; 5 Aug 1964-31 Mar 1965; 8 Feb-31 Dec 1969; 1 Jun 2002-31 May 2004.  Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (WWII). Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation:  27 Jun-31 Jul 1950.  Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 Apr 1966-9 Feb 1967 and [28 Sep] 1970-24 Dec 1972.

Emblem Approved on 14 Feb 1924.
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The Story of Oscar – The Grim Reaper

From the beginning of its renowned existence, the historic 13th Bomb Squadron has had a famous logo.   As early as when the 13th Aero Squadron flew into combat in France in 1918, the emblem on both sides of the aft fuselage of the Spad XIII was that of a skeleton running to the left, with a scythe in his hands, and the tip of the blade shown in red.   He was called Oscar and earned the nickname of The Devil’s Own Grim Reaper.  That scythe struck the enemy hard, both on the ground and in the air, during World War I where five aviators of the 13th shot down five or more German aircraft during the six months the squadron was engaged in combat.

In 1924, the Secretary of War approved the emblem of the white skeleton on a blue field, running to the right chasing the enemy. During the ensuing years, the logo has taken various forms, but always with the skeleton, scythe in hand, ready to reap havoc on those opposing the United States.

Oscar flags and banners could be seen at bases and units from which the Devil’s Own Grim Reapers flew their missions.

During World War II, “The Devil’s Own Grim Reapers” was the motto of the 3rd Attack Group in the Pacific Theater.  The Group was made up of four squadrons of the 8th, the 89th, the 90th as well as the 13th.   However, it is believed that Oscar only appeared on aircraft of the 13th, like the A-20s, whereas the other squadrons had their own emblems.

When the B-26s of the 13th Bomb Squadron started attacking enemy targets at the very beginning of the Korean War, Oscar was riding with them on the nose of those planes. By this time, Oscar was designed in a more upright stance and faced the rear. Crew members sported red shirts with the Oscar logo in clear view, often on the left pocket.

During the B-57 era and the Vietnam War, Oscar was not typically seen on the exterior of the aircraft which were painted with camouflage design; however, he remained an important part of the emblem during the first years of the war.  When he returned with the B-57Gs three years later, he was depicted as quietly moving slowly toward the enemy before dispatching them with his ordnance.  As in the past, red shirt party nights always included Oscar.

Once he was recalled to active duty in 2000, Oscar again could be seen on U.S. Air Force aircraft. This time he appeared on the nose of the B-1B supersonic bombers, and was depicted running to the right, where today he flies without warning on the B-2 Stealth Bombers during long and arduous missions. Looking back over 100 years---which have included five wars and counting---Oscar can recall incredible stories of daring combat and the integrity, honor, and dedication of the brave men and women with whom he was riding as they fought to protect the liberty and freedoms enjoyed by every American.
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13th Aero Squadron’s “Oscar” is Centerpiece of Exhibit
As a young child growing up in Massachusetts, Dr. Douglas Kane struck up an admiration for his grandfather, Earle F. Richards, a 1st Lieutenant with the 13th Aero Squadron in World War I. “There was a real war mentality (back then),” said Dr. Kane, a pulmonologist in Cookeville, TN. “It was glamorized in the movies, being able to fly, shoot things down and be a hero.” Although his grandfather died when Kane was just in the third grade, he left a lifelong impression on his grandson. And in 2008, in his parents’ attic in Purcellville, Va., Kane discovered the centerpiece of his granddad's legacy. “I found it in the attic underneath some cardboard,” he said. “It was loose, like junk.” But it wasn’t junk at all.
In March 1918, the 13th Areo Squadron acquired SPAD XIII pursuit planes from the French. The SPAD had agross weight of 1,863 lbs., 26'6" span and a length of 20' 8", and was powered by a Hispano 8 cyl. engine of 235 hp. It had two Vickers 7.7mm machine guns firing though the prop and could climb to almost 22,000 ft. Capable of reaching 139mph, the SPAD was the fastest Allied during WWI.

What Kane found was the stencil his granddad used in designing the insignia of the 13th Aero Squadron his granddad had been a part of, also known as the “grim reaper” or “Oscar.” “It was like the holy grail to me,” Kane said. “I knew my granddad had designed that.”
The stencil was a little piece of history significant during World War I when each aero squadron in the U.S.aero squadron was responsible for designing its own insignia and labeling all of the planes within that squadron. “He eventually presented his “grim reaper” logo to the squad, and the 13th’s insignia was born and is still alive today and is affectionately known as ‘Oscar,’” Kane said in a written statement.

The 13th Bomb Squadron Grim Reaper logo—affectionately known as “Oscar”— first rode into combat on the side of a SPAD XIII of the 13th Aero Squadron in 1918. The official emblem description reads, “Against a dark, blue field a white skeleton mowing with a yellow scythe with a reddened blade.” The Secretary of War finally approved it as the official 13th logo on February 14, 1924.

Kane had collected a variety of things from his granddad over the years including a flight coat, helmet and leggings, but none appears to be as significant as the tin stencil. “The 13th Bomber Squad still exists, and they still have the insignia,” he said. “That’s my granddad’s legacy.”
In Oscar's first appearance on the SPAD he was running to the left. However, in the official emblem Oscar is running to the right. Through the years Oscar has been jazzed up and toned down (shown here is Oscar, ca. 1953), depending upon the talents and inclination of various artists
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Significance of the 13th Bomb Squadron Logo 

Blue and yellow are the Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The white skeleton reflects the purity and truth of the Squadron's mission. The yellow blade of the scythe suggests the honor of the unit's heritage and the commitment to future excellence. The brown handle of the scythe represents the earth from which all missions begin and end. The scythe is stained and dripping with blood signifying the courage and patriotism of every mission, past, present and future and the sacrifice of blood spilled on both sides.
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Challenge Coin

Coining a Tradition
Story by Maj. Jeanne Fraser Brooks

Coins are as diverse as the units that present them.
WITHIN days of his liberation from a prisoner of war camp, Sgt. Troy Dunlap received two Iraqi coins from an employee of the hotel where he and the other U.S. POWs were being housed by the Red Cross following their release.

"One for you and one for me," he told Maj. Rhonda Cornum who also had been taken prisoner when their UH-60 helicopter was shot down by members of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard during Operation Desert Storm. "We joked that we could use them like military coins. ... We planned how we would use the Iraqi money to 'coin' our friends when we got back to Fort Rucker," Cornum wrote in her book, "She Went to War."

"Coining" is a relatively new U.S. military tradition, but has roots in the Roman Empire, where coins were presented to reward achievements.

In the U.S. military, the tradition goes back to the early 1960s. A member of the 11th Special Forces Group took old coins, had them overstamped with a different emblem, then presented them to unit members, according to Roxanne Merritt, curator of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum at Fort Bragg, N.C. A former commander of the 10th SFG picked up on the idea, becoming the first to mint a unit coin for a U.S. military unit. The 10th Group remained the only Army unit with its own coin until the mid-1980s, Merritt said, when "an explosion took place and everybody started minting coins."

Originally, the coins, which bear the unit crest on the front and whatever design the unit wants on the back, were given out by commanders and sergeants major to recognize outstanding acts performed by soldiers in the course of duty. "They're a real morale booster," said Duvall, "and tell the soldier, 'you're a member of our unit' which builds unit cohesion. The soldiers carry their credit card, driver's license and
unit coin - their wallets are permanently deformed."

Don Phillips, a former commander of the 20th SFG, designed a coin for his unit and presented it to his soldiers when he retired.

"Another unit asked me to make a coin for them, and then another, so I went into business making them," said Phillips. To date, Phillips has made coins for "between 600 and 700 units."

The tradition has spread to the other services and is even being adopted by paramilitary units like the U.S. Marshall's SWAT team, according to Phillips.

The proliferation of coins and their availability to the general public in post gift shops has caused Dr. Joseph Fisher, Special Operations Command historian, to view them as "not as special as they used to be; there are so many of them out there now." But that doesn't stop Fisher from carrying his with him at all times.

Making the coins available for purchase has added yet another dimension to the tradition - collecting. SMA Richard A. Kidd has approximately 300 of the coins on display in his office "museum." He has even issued an open invitation to soldiers visiting the Washington, D.C., area to stop by his office "even when I'm not here" to see his collection of unit memorabilia.

According to Phillips, World War II soldiers were given a coin when they mustered out of the service. But it wasn't until the Vietnam era that a "challenge-response" was added to the tradition of giving unit members a coin.

The initial challenge was to prove membership in a particular unit by producing the unit coin. That was followed by the addition of the requirement to "buy a round" if a soldier didn't have the coin.

"Buying a round isn't the only challenge these days," said Phillips. "Drinking is frowned on, so the challenge can be anything. If you don't have your coin, you get the detail." Kidd still uses the original premise in distributing coins and carries some with him whenever he travels.

"It's a way to immediately recognize above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty actions on the part of a soldier when you're in the field," said Kidd.

Challenge Coin - Explanation of Emblems
US Army Air Service WW I (Spad Aircraft)
US Army Air Corps (the US Air Force didn’t became a separate service until 1947) WW II (B-25, A-20 and A-26 Aircrafts)
5th Air Force was the Commanding unit in Japan for the Korean War squadron (B-26 Aircraft)
3rd Bomb Group was the commanding organization for the B-57’s in Japan before the Vietnam War (B-57 Aircraft)
7th Bomb Wing was the commanding organization for the B-1 Squadron at Dyess AFB, TX (B-1 Aircraft)
509th Bomb Wing is the commanding organization for the B-2 Squadron at Whiteman AFB, MO (B-2 Aircraft)


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