The Oozlefinch is the unofficial historic mascot of the Air Defense Artillery – and formerly of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps. The Oozlefinch is portrayed as a featherless bird that flies backwards (at supersonic speeds) and carries weapons of the Air Defense and Coast Artillery, most often a Nike-Hercules Missile. Oozlefinch has been portrayed in many different forms and artistic interpretations through its history.
There are many legends about the origins of the Oozlefinch. Most agree that the legend began in 1905 at Ft. Monroe, Virginia, then home of the Coast Artillery Corps. A Captain H. M. Merriam, no doubt under the effects of alcohol, first reported seeing a large-eyed, flight-challenged bird outside the officers' club. Soon more people would report seeing this bird, and even sketches were made. Eventually, the legend of this bird would become so great that even a statue was erected at the club in its honor.
The Oozlefinch was used on the patch of the Railway Artillery Reserve during World War I; In some descriptions, this bird is instead a pelican. The DUI of the 42nd Field Artillery Brigade later included the oozlefinch, describing the insignia thus: "On a wreath of the colors (Or and Gules) an oozlefinch (from the shoulder sleeve insignia worn by the Railway Artillery Reserve in France) Vert, armed, capped and collared on the legs".
The Oozlefinch's eyes are very large, allowing it to see very distant and very clearly in the sky. Its vision is unobstructed by eyelids or eyebrows, and the eyes are said to be able to turn 180 degrees so the Oozlefinch can look inward, symbolizing the need of a good leader for inward reflection.
The body of the shield "parti per fess, dovetailed" indicates the general woodenness, not of the Artillery Board and the other members of the "Gridiron Club" but of the passing throng who paid not their toll cheerfully in passing through the Sanctum to the bar. "Gules and Sable:" The color of the shield is red and black-red for the Artillery, and black in mourning for those who lost at dice by throwing the lowest spots. "In honor, a deuce spot of dice, lozenged. proper:" The honor point of the shield was given to the lowest marked dice, as it was the one which most frequently appeared to some members, the law of probabilities to the contrary notwithstanding. "In nombril a gridiron sable:" the lower half of the shield given over to the memory of those who did not belong to the "Gridiron Club" but who were constantly roasted by it. The supporters, "two Oozlefinches, regardant, proper," were a natural selection, "regardant" meaning looking, or better, all-seeing, with the great eyes that this bird has to protect while in flight in the manner described.
The crest "a terrapin, passant dexter proper, " was selected owing to the great number of these animals, cooked to perfection by Keeney Chapman and served with great pomp to the members of the Artillery Board on occasions of state. This was always accompanied by libations of "red top, " red top being a now obsolete drink made in the Champagne Country of France and once imported to the United States, in times gone by that now seem almost prehistoric.
The wavy bar, over which the terrapin is passing, represents the adjacent waters of Chesapeake Bay, the natural habitat of this animal.
- Air Defense Artillery
- Coastal Artillery
- Fort Bliss, Texas
- Fort Sill, Oklahoma
- Oozlum bird
- Ordnance Corps
- Saint Barbara, patron saint of artillerymen
- United States Army
- "The Institute of Heraldry". TIOH.hqda.pentagon.mil. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
- "WWI Shoulder Patches / Sleeve Insignia". Freepages.military.rootsweb.com. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
- "Nike Historical Society, The Oozlefinch". Nikemissile.org. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
- "Buster's Battery Oozlefinch illustrations". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
- "Ed Thelen's Nike Missile Web Site History of the Oozlefinch". Ed-thelen.org. 1957-07-01. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
- "Oozlefinch history from the 2-71 ADA in Taiwan". 2-71adataiwan.com. Retrieved 2013-07-16.