The history behind the wing shield

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
We see it adorned on the 157th Air Refueling Wing flag, we see it emblazoned on the water tank outside Building 100, it's inscribed on the wing's letterhead and is also worn as a patch, but what is the history and significance of the wing's emblem?

Although the Old Man of the Mountain, the once proud symbol of the State of New Hampshire, met its demise May 3, 2003, the iconic image is still an integral part of the heritage of the 157th Air Refueling Wing.

At the time, the 157th Tactical Airlift Group assigned in New Hampshire had a similar emblem as the 133rd Tactical Airlift Wing, assigned to the Minnesota Air National Guard.

In December 1971, Airmen assigned to the New Hampshire Air National Guard formed to design an emblem to represent the 157th Tactical Airlift Group. Their goal was to produce a group emblem that would represent the organization and the state of New Hampshire.

The committee, led by Lt. Col. Arthur Grant of State Headquarters, first met Jan. 8, 1972. Other members include Majors Henry Heiftje and Benjamin LaSalle, Master Sgts. William Brazawski and Walter Colby, Tech Sgt. Kenneth Weed, Staff Sgt. David Landry and Airman 1st Class David A. Castle.

"I'm not sure if these Airmen understood at the time their work would endure the way it has," said 2nd Lt. Jacob A. Ricciotti, who recently served as an editor on Granite Wings Volume II history book. "When you look back at the history of this organization, their passion to create this emblem is similar to the passion that exists throughout this organization today."

Members of the committee developed their own designs for consideration in accordance with U.S. Air Force Regulation 900-3.

In a letter dated May 8, 1972, Col. William J. Hamilton, 157th Tactical Airlift Group commander wrote, "A distinctive organizational emblem for the 157th Tactical Airlift Group would have favorable effect upon morale and espirit de corps of New Hampshire Air National Guardsmen."

Soon after, the committee selected a design created by Sergeant David Castle of the Support Squadron. His design incorporated four elements:

· An artistic conceptualization of the Old Man of the Mountains appears in the upper half of the divided shield. This nationally known rock formation, located in Franconia Notch of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is a distinctive and widely used symbol of the State of New Hampshire.
· An artistic conceptualization of Pegasus, a winged horse in classical mythology, dominates the lower half of the shield. The winged horse characterizes the embodiment of strength and speed.
· A diagonal border of thirteen stars, symbolizing the original thirteen colonies of the Nation, divided the shield in a graphic portrayal of New Hampshire's colonial heritage.
· The crest above the shield carries the motto of the State of New Hampshire (adopted by Act of the General Court in 1945): Live Free or Die.

On Aug. 23, 1972, Headquarters Air Force Personnel Service approved the new organizational emblem for the 157th Tactical Airlift Group.

The emblem has remained for more than 40 years, through organizational change from Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command and Air Mobility Command. The shield has emblazoned the C-130A, KC-135A, KC-135E and KC-135R aircraft in the New Hampshire Air National Guard.

"For every Airmen serving in the New Hampshire Air Guard today, each day we are on temporary duty, a deployment, or an exercise -- we write a sentence, paragraph, or page of our unit's heritage," said Ricciotti.

For more information on heritage and heraldry visit the Air National Guard the Air Force Historical Support Division and the Air Force Historical Research Agency.