168th Air Refueling Squadron [168th ARS]
The unit insignia of the 168th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) has a long history. The original insignia of the 168th Bombardment Squadron (Bomb Sq), and later the 168th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), depicted a skunk wearing a red baseball cap and red and white apron. The skunk stood on a cloud and served a bomb on a tray. Old-timers at O'Hare, the stomping ground of the 168 FIS, believe the skunk to be a Disney character, probably "Flower" from the film Bambi. Whatever his origin, the skunk became known as "Sweet Willie" in honor of the first Air Guard Commander, Lieutenant Colonel William Chum. In fact, the 168 FIS kept a live skunk as a mascot. According to Air Force Historian Mrs. Endicott, the 437th Bomb Squadron, predecessor to the 168th Bomb Squadron, registered no official insignia. The skunk has its roots in Chicago, where it was originated, and represents "defiance".
The word "Chicago" is Indian for "strong onion odor". The skunk's baseball cap is a replica of those worn by the aircrew of the squadron. When the 168 ARS inherited the honors and insignia of its past illustrious units, the insignia was changed slightly to correspond with the new mission of the unit, namely refueling instead of bombardment. Instead of the skunk serving a bomb, the skunk now holds a fuel nozzle, representing the mission of aerial refueling. However, the proud traditions of the 437th Bombardment Squadron, the 168th Bombardment Squadron, the 168th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, and the 168th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron go on unchanged.
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