Oozlefinch is the unofficial historic mascot of the Air Defense Artillery – and formerly of Coastal Artillery – of the United States Army. Oozlefinch is portrayed as a flightless, featherless bird that flies backwards (at supersonic speeds) and carries weapons of the Air Defense and Coastal Artillery, most often a Nike-Hercules Missile. Oozlefinch has been portrayed in many different forms and artistic interpretations through its history. Oozle's motto is "If it flies, it dies. Blazing skies." reinforcing the purpose of the Air Defense Artillery.
The legend of Oozlefinch is said to begin prior to Christmas 1905 at Fort Monroe. In 1957, when Fort Bliss was redesignated the U.S. Army Air Defense Center, Oozlefinch was moved to Fort Bliss. In 1946, Oozle moved to Fort Scott, California to be with the growing Seacoast Artillery Branch and School of Mines (for the Ordnance Branch). Prior to 1960, when the Oozlefinch was largely retired, graduates of the Air Defense School received a certificate granting the title of "Honorary Gunner Oozlefinchling".
The Oozlefinch was used on the patch of 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 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, symbolizing the great distance of protection and detection of the Air Defense Artillery, especially the more modern PATRIOT missile defense system and its Phased-Array Radar. Oozle's vision is unobstructed by eyelids or eyebrows, and the eyes are said to be able to turn 180-degrees such that the Oozle can look inward, symbolizing the need of a good leader for inward reflection.
Oozle carried a missile, usually a Nike-Hercules Missile, as it flew. The missile was pointed to the bird's rear and thus forward as the bird flew backwards. In other depictions, Oozlefinch carried no missile but would be adorned with a military helmet and grasp enemy (usually Soviet) aircraft.
|“||The body of the shield
"parti per fess, divetailed" 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 the Chesapeake, the natural habitat of this animal.