ALL THE MILITARY MASCOTS IN THE U.S. ARMED FORCES
By Miriam Rixon
We’re all familiar with Mr. Met, Benny the Bull, and Rocky the Mountain Lion, but did you know about the U.S. military mascots? Yes, the military has mascots, too! Military mascots serve as emblems for military units and are more symbolic than functional, although some would say their function is to inspire people. Come learn a little more about military mascots with us.
U.S. Army Mules[caption id="attachment_361173" align="alignnone" width="1024"] West Point’s Army Mule mascot, Paladin. Army photo by: John Pellino/ West Point DPTMS VI[/caption] The Army Mules serve as the official mascots for the United States Military Academy. The existence of this Army mascot can be traced all the way back to 1899 when it was brought into existence to combat the U.S. Navy goat. The history of the U.S. army mascot is a little blurry in the years between 1899 and 1936, after which Mr. Jackson served as the first official mule for 12 years. Since Mr. Jackson, there have been 17 official mules and one mare, Buckshot. Currently, there are three official mule mascots: Ranger III, Stryker, and Paladin.
U.S. Marines BulldogsThe U.S. Marine Corps mascot is the only mascot that exists for an actual military branch of service and not just for a service academy. The official marine mascot is the English Bulldog. How did the Marine Corps bulldog come to be? During World War I the Germans affectionately nicknamed the Marines “teufel hunden,” or “devil dogs,” after witnessing a crushing defeat at the hands of the Marines from 1st Battalion, 6th Marines in France. Bulldogs are famous symbols of courage and the marines gladly adopted their new name. In the Second World War, Winston Churchill had a bulldog which was often used as a symbol of freedom in opposition to the Nazis. When the Marines entered the war anointed with the name devil dogs, it was to no one's surprise when bulldogs were featured chasing a German dachshund on recruitment posters.
U.S. Navy Goats[caption id="attachment_361174" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The Naval Aademy's mascots were present for the entire Army/Navy Game December 11, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. US Army photo by SSG Aimee Millham.[/caption] The United States Naval Academy mascot is a goat named Billy— very original, we know. Bill the Goat first made an appearance in 1893 and Bill XXXVI reigns as the current naval goat mascot. Goats have a very close history with the navy. For years, ships sailed the seas with livestock on board to provide the crew with fresh food. Goats often ate the garbage produced by the crew and in return provided milk and butter.
Suggested Read: How to Become a West Point Cadet: In-Depth GuideThe first official U.S. Navy mascot, El Cid, debuted at the 4th Army-Navy game, which the Navy won 6-3. Since then, El Cid was adopted as a part of the team as a Navy goat and a tradition was born.
U.S. Air Force Falcons[caption id="attachment_361175" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Cadet 2nd Class Kayla Steiner, center, handler of “Nova” the newly named 15-week-old full white-phase Gyrfalcon, displays the new mascot of the United States Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joshua Armstrong)[/caption] The U.S. Air Force Academy mascot is a falcon. The mascot’s job in the academy is to serve as an ambassador and interact with people during Air Force athletic events, military events, and community events. The first-ever Air Force mascot was a peregrine falcon named Mach I. The current Air Force mascot is a young female gyrfalcon named Nova. We can see the pride that the Air Force has in their mascots even in their logo. The Air Force Academy logo was changed in June 2022 and showcases a falcon carrying a single bolt that’s meant to symbolize a unified academy striking forward into the future.
U.S. Coast Guard BearThe U.S. Coast Guard Academy mascot is a black bear. Bold and brave, just like our beloved Coast Guard Coasties. The black bear was selected as the official mascot in 1926. Whether they’re mules, bulldogs, or bears, it’s safe to say that every U.S. military mascot is a symbol of pride and has a deep significance in its respective branch.
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