'Crusaders' return: Air station squadron returns to old moniker

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'Crusaders' return: Air station squadron returns to old moniker

By PATRICK DONOHUE
pdonohue@beaufortgazette.com
Published Saturday, April 14, 2012   |  336 Words  |  

A squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is embracing a historic nickname once thought by former commanders to be politically incorrect.

During a 70th anniversary party last month, officials from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 announced that the unit would be again known as the "Crusaders," a moniker used by the unit from 1958 to January 2008.

In 2008, the unit's nickname was changed back to its World War II-era nickname, the "Werewolves," prior to a combat deployment to Iraq later that year, in part, because unit commanders thought the moniker would not well-received by Iraqis and others in the region.

"The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn't float," Lt. Col. William Lieblein, then the unit's commanding officer, was quoted as saying in 2008.

Lt. Col. Wade Wiegel, who now commands the squadron, said he doesn't see the nickname as being politically incorrect, and the recent change was made out of deference to the unit's history.

"It's a way for our Marines to draw on the service of the Marines before them, and to make their own history under the same name," Wade said. "As the squadron prepared to celebrate its (70th anniversary), my intent was to return the squadron to the Crusader name since 50 of the squadron's 70 years were under that name. The name change is a reflection of our heritage."

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 was commissioned March 1, 1942, at Camp Kearny, Calif.

Originally the "Candystripers," the squadron quickly adopted the "Werewolves" moniker before embarking on its first combat tour in October 1942 to Guadalcanal.

Following World War II, VMFA-122 became the first Marine squadron to fly jet-propelled aircraft, and relocated to Beaufort in September 1957.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/OnBaseBeaufort.

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Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 gets a new commander and a new name, Jan. 5, 2008