The Ins and Outs of our 220th Unit Patches, Plaques and Pins:
A brief summary of the evolution of unit identity of the 220th Aviation Company (SAL), then 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company or 220th Aviation Company (RAC), and the 220th Aviation Company (Utility) tells this story:
In July 1965 Gustof Fajerson, one of the unit mechanics, designed the original 220th Unit Patch on an engine crate, as related by Dewey Grocox in our 1965 history. It was overlaid on the St. Andrew´s white cross from MAJ Curry´s family crest and also incorporated the unit motto, WE OBSERVE, on a ribbon scroll at the bottom. However, in late 1967, apparently during the command of MAJ Clark, the lettering on the ribbon was changed to match the entry gateway arch to the 220TH AVIATION COMPANY — CAT KILLERS, as the unit appeared to be known throughout I Corps.
NOTE: I have not been able to actually pin down a date for the change; however, the Unit History files held in the National Archives provide some explanation below. I have also not been able to locate, and am still looking for, a photo of a CAT KILLER plaque.The 1967 and 1968 Unit History reports show the Unit Heraldry page with a sketch of a CAT KILLERS patch. Then, in what then appears to have occurred, or at least begun, sometime during 1969 there was another change to the lettering on the unit patch which changed CAT KILLERS to THE CATKILLERS — however, the sketch of this change did not appear on the Heraldry page in the Unit Historical Files at the National Archives until 1970 for the first time. The 1969 Unit History Report, which was completed by MAJ Stokes after he took command in early January 1970, still shows the Heraldry page with the sketch of the CAT KILLERS patch. (Confusing? Stay with me, please.)
Following MAJ Stokes, during MAJ Guinn´s command, the article in the September 1970 issue of the HAWK, the 1st Aviation Brigade publication, shows the use of the original word "Birddog" and "CAT KILLERS" (which is attributed to MAJ Stokes) in referring to the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company. The new patch design, then showing THE CATKILLERS, which has also been found to have been used on the unit plaque during 1969, then first appeared on the Heraldry page in the 1970 Unit History Report on file in the National Archives, which was not completed and submitted by MAJ Johnson until after his taking command in January 1971. This change is also noted again on the Heraldry page of the Unit History of 1971 which was completed at Stand-Down. However, I have not been able to locate an actual THE CATKILLERS patch.
However, (again to add a bit more confusion) the 1971 Yearbook published by the 212th Combat Support Aviation Battalion, including all photos of the 220th Aviation Company, refers to the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company as "Cat Killers." Dick Wells, a new WO1 in the 220th during the later part of 1971 sent me a skan of his CAT KILLERS unit patch that was being worn at that time. In the 1971 Historical Overview, we also see evidence of the use of platoon "Pooch" patches (Origin is unknown at this time). It would appear that Phu Bai was "Alright" (or "All Right") and that a good sense of humor might help to go a long way!NOTE: This "interaction" of changing the logo and/or nick-name of the unit created a number of questions in my historical review such as "was there something going on" among the successive members of the 220th and/or the battalion headquarters in Da Nang during those times— all interesting events in our unit history.
Hopefully, this short summary of our 220th company unit patch changes is about as simple a story of how Don Ricks and your volunteer unit historian came up with the evolution of our 220th Aviation Company unit patches as shown below:
Of additional note, I have come upon three other not well publicized "CAT KILLER" and "CATKILLER" patches that apparently existed in the 1st Platoon, particularly during 1968—69. However, so far I have not been able to obtain much detail about the "rest of the story" behind them—probably because I have not yet been able to locate and talk with the right "insider." While it might appear that the primarily yellow patch was worn by most members of the platoon, the blue patches, particularly the darker one with the "X—16," may have been reserved for some distinctive identification by the Platoon Leader (Who knows?) I have been able to "pick up" scattered pieces of additional unpublished information about the 1st Platoon, particularly when it was the DMZ / Tally Ho platoon which had been augmented by combining the assets of the 4th Platoon during the period of 5 June 1968 until 19 September 1969. During that particular period of time the normal "modus operandi" of this group further appears to have been much like a tight knit "Fraternity," or a similar and very special "Band of Brothers" — which without much doubt was due to the well known fact that the DMZ and Tally Ho mission was just a bit different from the ordinary. There was also a particularly special "Snoopy" pin that was reserved for wearing by the pilots who had accrued over 50 missions across the DMZ into North Vietnam. If anyone from the 1st Platoon would care to enlighten us on any part of this writing, please do.
NOTE: I am currently working on a separate supplemental chapter or piece which I am calling Catkiller Fables. It will include a few "side stories" that existed over the years which will include a bit more about this platoon, the "Myth Makers", and other things that happened along the way in the history of the 220th that I have been able to gather from the grapevine. Catkiller fables, a wild collection of war stories (many of them only from verbal sources), and other such things that may permit me to tell a bit more of what I have learned over the past few months — and I promise to not divulge any "classified" material.If following any of these notings confuse you, please join with me in my attempt to stay abreast of the many recorded, and also in the discovery of previously unrecorded, events and "things" that just appear to be other bits of our unit history. We must also remember that all CATKILLERS, or CAT KILLERS, were part of the 220th Aviation Company—"One for All, and All for One."