I realize I’ve been “off the grid” as it were for quite a while now. The problem with having a day job is it get in the way of all the writing one would prefer to be doing. In any event, I do have news.
For quite some time now I’ve been absent from the august ranks of the Black Sheep and am now a member of the Green Knights, the cutting edge of Marine Corps aviation. Where the Black Sheep fly Harriers the Green Knights operate shiny new F-35B mega-ninja, short take off, vertical landing death dealing machines. Of course, we could be a hang glider squadron and I’d know just as much about the aircraft.
The Green Knights are among the most decorated and renowned squadrons in the Corps. During WWII they produced fourteen fighter aces, including Medal of Honor recipient, Major Joe Foss. This is more aces than any other squadron. Throughout the Pacific campaign they shot down 208 enemy aircraft.
During the Korean War they were known as the Wolf Raiders and sometime in 1960 became the Green Knights. My understanding of how this came to be is as follows.
The squadron deployed to Iwakuni and took over run down area of the base. The executive officer, “Moose Traynor”, found the state of their squadron area not within the professional standards of such a storied unit. This irritated him to no end until he directed Master Sergeant Snoddy to do something about it, but with little to no cost to the squadron.
As anyone who’s spent time around Marines will tell you, tasking any enlisted man a “no cost” mission means liberties will be taken in the execution of the assignment. MSgt Snoddy installed fence posts and white nylon rope around the headquarters buildings. He liberated cans of paint and soon everything within sight and hearing sported a nice clean coat of fresh green paint. Why green? When they opened the buckets of paint that’s what color it was.
Proudly inspired by the MSgt’s efforts, the executive officer decided to hold a contest allowing members of the squadron to submit and vote on a new squadron name. Pleased with the new paint job, his own submission was the Green Knights. The nominations were entered and the votes were taken. Being partial to his own submission, and in the fine tradition of the American electoral process, the executive officer rigged the vote. He submitted the proper paperwork to Headquarters Marine Corps and thus the Green Knights were born.
Why a knight? There was a popular television show on the air at the time called Have Gun-Will Travel. It was about a gentleman gunfighter who called himself “Paladin.” He traveled throughout the wild west hiring himself out to clients to solve their problems. His business card had a picture of a knight chess piece and “Have Gun- Will Travel” written across. Have Gun- Will Travel is also the motto of the Green Knights to this day.
It is often speculated that had the MSgt liberated a different color of paint, the squadron may have been dubbed by a slightly altered name. Orange Knights? Crimson Knights? If it ended up being Fuschia Knights I might have had to refuse my orders here.