In 2008, when Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 was preparing to deploy to Iraq, the unit's commander, Lt. Col. William Lieblein, did something very wise and sensible -- he changed the nickname of the unit from "Crusaders" back to its former name, the "Werewolves." Stating the obvious, Lt. Col. Lieblein said, "The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn't float."
But now, under new leadership, the unit is going back to being the "Crusaders," complete with an insignia of a crusader shield with a big red cross on it and a crusader knight as its mascot.
According to the Beaufort Gazette, the squadron's new commander, Lt. Col. Wade Wiegel, just doesn't see calling a U.S. military unit the "Crusaders" as being "politically incorrect." The paper quoted Wiegel saying of the name change: "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. 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."
So, apparently, because it was the unit's 70th anniversary, Lt. Col. Wiegel decided that continuing to call the unit the "Werewolves" -- the name originally given to the unit by its WWII Marines 70 years ago -- didn't reflect the unit's heritage! This is as nonsensical as the historical revisionists who insist that "In God We Trust," which didn't become our national motto until 1956, somehow reflects the intent of the founding fathers more than "E Pluribus Unum," the motto that the founding fathers themselves actually chose in 1782.
... is being replaced by this:
Sources at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort have also confirmed that the "Crusader" insignia is being repainted on the planes flown by Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122. These U.S. Marine Corps planes will once again have a great big red crusader cross on them, as shown in this pre-2008 photo.
While the renaming of the unit from "Werewolves" to "Crusaders" in 1958 was obviously just because the plane the unit was flying at the time was called the F-8 Crusader, and it was all in good fun in that era to do things like dress up the unit's mascot, a little statue of a crusader knight, in a unit baseball cap, it is not at all cute or funny now. With our troops deployed in Muslim countries where the disregard of religious sensitivities has led to the deaths of U.S. service members and others, it is just sheer stupidity.
And, of course, there is also the pesky little constitutional issue of a U.S. military unit having a big red crusader cross as its insignia. It seems that Lt. Col. Wiegel is having a bit of trouble understanding his own "Command Philosophy," in which he states: "Everyone wearing the uniform has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and this oath provides the guideposts of what our country expects in return." Yeah, Lt. Col. Wiegel, that's what we expect in return -- a version of upholding the Constitution that includes using a big red crusader cross to represent our country!
Mikey Weinstein, the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), after speaking to a number of Marines, including one from the "Crusaders" who is disgusted by the renaming and is "expecting MRFF to do something about this," issued the following statement:
"This universally disgraceful 'renaming' action by Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122's Commander is a literally breath-taking example of a wretched alloy of both blatant unconstitutionality and boundless stupidity. It will absolutely serve as a priceless propaganda bonanza of jovian magnitude for our nation's fundamentalist Islamic foes and, thus, represents a veritable national security threat to the United States of America. Likewise, it will incontrovertibly, directly and indirectly hasten the maiming and deaths of our armed forces members. To this world class cretin masquerading as the MFAS 122's Squadron Commander, I ask, has your motto now become 'The Few. The Proud. The Crusaders?' We'll be seeing you in Federal Court, chump."