35 SFS receives new emblem
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Earlier this month, the 35th Security Forces Squadron received a revised version of their unit emblem from the Air Force Historical Research Agency. The squadron's original emblem had been approved by the Air Force in 1980, but changes to the Air Force heraldry program in the early 1990s meant that the emblem no longer conformed to Air Force standards.
Maj. Drew Gehler, 35 SFS commander, began the revision process soon after taking command of the unit in 2013. In general, an approved Air Force emblem can never be changed. Emblems are the symbol of a unit's identity and should remain constant over time. The revision process in the cases of the few exceptions is difficult and rigorous.
Ms. Peggy Ream, an AFHRA Historian, explained, "During a review of Air Force Heraldry from 1991 to 1995, Gen. Merrill McPeak, the 14th Air Force Chief of Staff, announced that the aim of Air Force heraldry was to preserve historic emblems and retain approved emblem designs unchanged to the maximum extent feasible." During the review process, McPeak established polices and standards that remain in effect today.
As the focus of a unit's identity, each emblem is unique. Gehler said, "The 35 SFS emblem is a symbol of the unit's commitment to the mission, their fellow defenders, and a constant reminder of how important it is to do our job well, each and every day."
The squadron's emblem qualified for revision because it included more than three elements. An element is a single symbol such as a sword, a pair of lightning bolts, or a dog. In addition, the emblem had been inactive when McPeak completed a personal review and approval of all Air Force units active at the time.
The revision process took more than 18 months and required coordination with AFHRA, the 35th Fighter Wing History Office, Pacific Air Forces, and the U.S. Army's The Institute of Heraldry. The revised emblem maintains its connection to the past by retaining the colors and some elements of the previous version.
Regarding the design of the emblem, Gehler explained, "This emblem is simplistic and straight forward, but with a deeply rooted philosophy, that each defender has pledged their life in the defense of their fellow Airmen, and that each day they will faithfully carry out that mission quietly and without complaint, and in many cases with limited resources."
The revised 35 SFS includes the unit's new motto, "strength, courage, victory," and several other Misawa units including the 35th Comptroller Squadron and 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron recently added new mottos to their approved emblems.