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Wing shield carries 65 years of history

  • Published
  • By 50th Space Wing
  • History Office
When the Army Air Forces approved the heraldic emblem of the 50th Pursuit Group (later renamed 50th Fighter Group) in 1942, no one could have foreseen the distinguished history that would unfold under that flag. 

The 50th FG shield had an opinicus -- a magic beast comprising the head of an eagle, the body of a lion, and the tail and claws of a bear. Emulating those characteristics, the group's pilots expected to bring the raging battle to Europe. The group's motto, "Master of the sky," left no doubt about the attitudes of the men who took the P-47s into combat.

After a modification in 1953, the wing received approval to modify the emblem again in 1956, adding an atomic cloud behind a front-facing griffon to symbolize the strength of America's arsenal. The wing would carry this version of the emblem for the next 35 years through its redesignation as the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing with various operations and combat in the Middle East.

Inactivated in 1991, the wing returned to duty in January 1992 and adopted the original 50th Pursuit Group emblem. Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill T. McPeak approved a modified motto, "Master of space," in September 1992.

The emblem's colors are Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the vastness of space, the principal theater of the wing. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force people. The opinicus with the strength of a lion and the bold flight of the eagle symbolizes the functions of the 50th Space Wing.

In its 15 years as the 50th SW, the organization has fulfilled its updated motto and added to the prestige of its historic emblem. As the manager of the global positioning system and Military Strategic and Tactical Relay satellites, the space operations crews of the 50th SW have continued their history of fielding advanced systems. The wing also provides command and control of the Defense Satellite Control System Block III satellite constellation, and owns and operates the Air Force Satellite Control Network and its worldwide remote tracking stations. The satellites and control network operated by the wing play vital roles in the war on terrorism and provide U.S. and coalition forces involved in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom with essential precision timing, navigation, and communications services.