Badges of VC-5, VAH-5, and RVAH-5

Note: Several of these images have been compressed in order to better fit the page. If you wish to see them full size, right-click on the image and select "view image" from the drop down menu.


This is the original "Grim Reaper" design. It is still an open question as to when it was replaced by "Mushmouth." My theory is that the change was made in late 1954, although I cannot be certain as I only joined the squadron in mid-November of that year. I can tell you that there was discussion in the ready room aboard USS Randolph circa late December 1954 about the design of the badge. I specifically remember LTJG Paul Wells (See below. *) having a long talk with an electronics technichian (AT3?) Leonard Herskovitz ("Herkie") on the subject. It has always been my impression that the decision to change had just recently been made. I have checked with my third crewman, Charles O. Reichl, and he has confirmed my understanding that a contest to choose a replacement for the "Grim Reaper" had been held at the instigation of the operations officer, LCDR Jim Stafford.

Leonard Herskovitz was a very talented and creative young man. I remember that he was making a solid wood model of the anxiously awaited A3D, working only from a picture or two. I suspect that Paul Wells and "Herkie" served on the committee to choose the winning entry, and thus the tete-a-tete. If not that, then it may very well have been "Herkie" who designed the badge. I know that I have been thinking that for a long time, and the opinion has only been strengthened since Charlie Reichl told me recently that Leonard Herskowitz's brother worked as a graphics designer for Hallmark.

* My memory can sometimes be a little faulty, as attested by the two preceding paragraphs. Paul Wells has informed me that he spent his time on that deployment on the USS Lake Champlain. This means that he and I did not serve together on the USS Randolph (as I had previously believed) and that we did not meet and become friends until after the squadron returned to Sanford in February 1955. I do, however, stand by my memory of Leonard Herskovitz. The only difference is that the discussions were between "Herkie" and an officer different from Paul. As for Paul's involvement of the renaming of the squadron and the design of the new patch, he told me in an email of 4 March 2006:

First, to my recollection, I was never on the Randolph. My only Med cruise (54-55) was on the Lake Champlain, although we landed once or twice on the Coral Sea...
...The Mushmouth patch came out of the informal renaming of VC-5 as "The Savage Sons of Sanford", a name of which I claim authorship. I don't recall who designed the patch, or when, but it may have been at the instance of Dan Delly and/or Don Walker, our maintenance officers. The name came out of a contest which my roommate, Dick Smith ("Smitty") persuaded Jim Stafford to have the squadron sponsor. I think first prize was a bottle of booze. Smitty, who initiated the contest, won with his name for the squadron "Neptune's Bastards" and I came in 2d or so with "Savage Sons". Smitty's name never caught on but mine did. (I no doubt shared in the bottle of booze.) After everyone started using "Savage Sons" the patch appeared. I think it was probably after we returned from the Med cruise in early '55.
In a second email of the same date, Paul added:
Now that I think of it, if you can find Don Walker (who stayed in and retired as a Captain, I think) he should be able to give you a lot on the Mushmouth patch. He lives near Charlottesville, VA I think.

HOLD THE PRESSES! On 9 March 2006 I located Leonard Herskovitz. My credibility as a witness goes right down the drain. "Herkie," like Paul, was not on the USS Randolph. He spent the entire deployment in Pt. Lyautey. He was, however, able to help me in filling me in that the man I am remembering was probably AMAN Franklin R. Hoffman. "Herkie" says he remembers Hoffman as someone who carved several aircraft models from wood and displayed them around the barracks in Sanford. If he was, as I believe, the log yeoman, his constant presence in the ready room would be explained. Obviously much of the foregong needs revision.

Naturally, I would like to have any information that can either confirm or refute my version of the story. Finding "Herkie" (or Don Walker) would help, but so far I have been unsuccessful in tracking either of them down. There must be someone out there who has the exact details. If so, let's hear from you!


This is a scan of my own badge. I can confirm that it is among the oldest of its genre. It dates from sometime between November 1954 and October 1955.

Notice the non-centered pupils in the eyes. The "google eyes" are a feature shared by Ed Baron's patch as shown in a picture that was mailed out by Don Pierce. This is a distinguishing mark of the very early "Mushmouth" patches, and I suspect that Ed's patch and mine both came from the very first batch that were ordered for the squadron.


This image was "pulled" from an image sent to me by Don Pierce. In the original image it was shown on a wooden plaque. I have chosen to present this one because it is certifiably "period" and not a recent reproduction. Because of the "Hatron Five" it can be dated after the change of the squadron's designation on 1 November 1955.


This scan came from an image of a badge on the flight jacket of Everett W. "Hoot" Foote that was offered for sale on eBay ending 3 January 2005. "Hoot" Foote was in VAH-5 from about 1957 to 1959. A nugget Naval Aviator, he served the then customary first tour as B/N. It seems rather certain that the badge is from that period. Interestingly this "Mushmouth" has the "google eys" of the original. This is in contrast to the VAH-5 patch that immediately follows.


Here is another post 1 November 1955 badge. I pulled the graphic  from the web. I suspect that this badge is a reproduction. The stitching does not seem quite right somehow. Also I am suspicious of the missing "OF SANFORD" after "SAVAGE SONS."


The badge was changed to a different type of "savage," to an Indian Chief, in 1962, because it seems that "Mushmouth" was considered insensitive. (I wonder how the Indian Chief would be viewed in 2004.) Since I left the Navy in March 1956, and since the change did not occur until 1962, I can't offer any first-hand information regarding the change. I have heard some scuttlebutt about the triggering event, but I would like someday to hear a detailed and objective account.
[See below for one report of the "incident."]

I can, however, offer some solid information about the choice of design for the new badge. While in Sanford for the "Vigi" dedication in 2003 I went to the museum in Sanford. There I found some old copies of the base newspaper, "The Sanfly." The issue of 14 December 1962 carried an article about the insignia change. At the time the CO was CDR Roy E. Farmer. The design winner was Albert G. Hutto, ADJ1. In second place was Charles R. Martin, AMH1, and in third place was Albert N. McKelvy, PT1.

The next day while I was discussing this with John Bailey, John told me that Albert Hutto was always embarrassed about having won. He apparently did not think his design was very good and that it was not in the same class as "Mushmouth." It certainly never gained as much attention.

CORRECTION! It was ALVIN Hutto, not Albert. On 7 June 2007 I received an email from Craig L. Hunter, He said:

I ran across your web-site Savage Sons web site when I googled my old friend and mentor Al Hutto. When Al retired from the Navy, he was employed in the aerospace industry and rose to the level of executive in several companies. I worked for him on 3 different occasions and he taught me many things. He truly had a distinguished civilian career.

Anyway, the correction is that Al’s full name is Alvin G. Hutto, even though his nickname was “fat Albert”. Everyone assumes his name is Albert and not Alvin. He would appreciate being known for posterity as Alvin.

I last saw Al a few years ago after he retired from Lockheed-Martin in Harlingen, Texas. I am trying to find his phone number once again to say hello. He will be excited that his name comes up on Google. He told me many stories of his times in the A3 Vigilante squadron.

My father was a Marine aviator that flew the F-8U Crusader during the same time Al was in the Navy.

MORE! From Al Hutto himself: On 1 September 2009 I received an email from stating, "The reward for designing the new Savage Sons of Sanford patch was 7 days basket leave."


The squadron became RVAH-5 on 1 March 1964. This provides a "no sooner than" date for the insignia. I retrieved this image from the web. "RECONATKRON" is quite a mouthful. I am not familiar enough with the details of RVAH-5's history to place this one and the next two in proper sequence.


Apparently removed from someone's clothing, this badge is probably not a reproduction. Note that this one has "RECONNAISSANCE ATTACK SQUADRON FIVE" spelled out in full.


I suspect that this one is a reproduction, principally because of the appearance of the stitching. I don't know what to make of the omitted "OF SANFORD." Although I am unfamiliar with the detailed history of RVAH-5, I do know that they moved to NAS Albany, Georgia in 1968 or earlier. Could this be the explanation?



On 28 July 2005 I received an email from Joe H. Kendall,, regarding the incident that triggered the end of "Mushmouth." Here is an excerpt from what Joe wrote:
I was an ADJ2 in VAH-5 when this "situation" occurred. We were involved in an air show off the east coast. President John F. Kennedy and many other leaders of different countries, dignataries, and other VIP's were there. I was assigned to the beach detachment at Oceana in case one of our planes had to bingo. Prior to the arrival of the President everyone joined in to spruce up the flight line and surrounding area. We had air compressors and spoons from the mess hall to clean out the padeyes. Some leaders and other VIP's from Africa were to witness this very important exercise. Some politicians happened to see the "Mushmouth" and decided that it would be offensive to the Africans. We were directed to get rid of the insignia. There was not enough time to remove it, so we taped over it with ordnance tape.
Joe went on to add, "You are correct in saying that no one cared for the 'one way Indian'." I was amused. I had not previously heard that name for Al Hutto's design.


On 17 August 2005 I received a second email from Joe H. Kendall in which he added:
When it was determined that we had to replace the "Mushmouth" the XO placed a notice in the squadron POD seeking suggestons. The input was very low and it came down to three participants. Al Hutto won because the squadron leaders wanted to maintain the "Savage Sons" theme. VAH-5 was a very gung-ho outfit with very high morale, thanks to Cdr. Gobin, our kick-ass maintenance officer.
When I checked into VAH-5 in May 1960 I was amazed at what I saw in the Ready Room. There was a jungle scene with "Mushmouths" present. There were spears and other tribal paraphernalia, including a large pot with simulated fire and boiling water. We had bombing derbys back then and when a flight crew scored low on their RBS runs they were "placed" in the boiling cauldron. Actually, we were cannibals. The top flight crews were considered to be the chief headhunters. Everyone was proud to be a "Mushmouth". I am part Cherokee and the "Savage" Indian never offended me. I believe that if a more realistic spear had been used the insignia would have been better received. We would still be real Savages.
I shipped out of VAH-5 in October 1963. The next time I saw Al Hutto was in 1969 in the Body Exchange at Norfolk Naval Station.




Go to my Navy File on my old web site.

Kenneth Jennings Wooster
27 Abdallah Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045-3302
(607) 753-3558
File created: March 13, 2004.
File modified: March 14, 2004; January 1, 2005; July 29, 2005; June 11, 2007.