Overview: 27th Special Operations Wing emblem

USAF courtesy illustration The colors of the shield, Ultramarine Blue and Air Force Yellow, are the official colors of the United States Air Force.

By Rick Shea: 27th SOW historian

What’s in an Air Force emblem? Do they truly mean anything? How do some emblems derive their elements? And what’s with that flower on our wing patch?

Every patch, or emblem as the Air Force officially recognizes them, has what is referred to as a significance statement in which each element and color is explained in laymen’s terminology with an actual story behind it.

While visiting numerous on-base organizations for one reason or another, I found myself being asked over and over again “what’s with that flower in the wing patch?” It eventually dawned on me that there seemed to be a genuine interest as to why we have the wing emblem that we do.

The story originates before World War II — Sept. 12, 1940, to be specific. After being constituted as the 27th Bombardment Group (Light) and activated as the 27th Fighter-Escort Group on Feb. 1, 1940 at Barksdale Field (now Barksdale AFB), La., the decision was made to devise something that all men of the 27th would have in common, something they could all identify with. That something was an emblem that all 27th personnel still wear today — the 27th Special Operations Wing patch.

Having stated that each emblem tells a story, let’s tell the story of the 27 SOW patch. The emblem contains two colors, as all official Air Force emblems do, ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow. Even colors tell a story in Air Force heraldry. Both colors are significant because they symbolize Air Force ideals. The blue represents “the sky,” which is the primary theater of Air Force operations, while Air Force yellow represents “the sun” and the excellence required of all airmen.

In the emblem’s upper right portion, you’ll notice a fist. That right-handed, clenched fist symbolizes strength, which falls in line with the wing’s motto of Intelligent Strength. But, there’s still the issue of that flower, right? How does it tie into the 27 SOW? What can it possibly symbolize or what’s its significance? And, what type of flower is it anyway? The answer is really quite simple if one recognizes magnolias. Yes, it is an embroiderer’s version of a magnolia.

Now, remembering where the wing first originated (Barksdale Field) and knowing that Louisiana’s state flower is a magnolia, it becomes quite clear as to why we have the emblem we have.