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Walt Disney inspires squadron

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Marcy Copeland
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Everyone had a role to play during World War II at home and abroad. For Sgt. Seymour Pine it was serving in the 62nd Fighter Squadron assigned to the 56th Fighter Group at Luke Air Force Base as a Stars and Stripes reporter.

He performed many functions as a reporter to tell the Army Air Corps story. His main job was to interview P-47 pilots within the squadron. He served in England at the Royal Air Force Station Martlesham Heath during World War II reporting the war efforts.

While stationed at Luke, Pine had the unique privilege of accepting the 62nd Fighter Squadron emblem of a boxing bulldog from the artist who drew it--Walt Disney.

"Going through my father's things, I found what I thought were the original photos of Walt Disney presenting my dad with the squadron emblem," said Richard Pine, Sgt. Pine's son who resides in Georgia. "Disney designed it and presented it to my father. Knowing my father was involved in this moment in history and meeting Disney is just amazing. To know my father accomplished the things he did in England and in the states makes me very proud to be his son."

After the bombing at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, fears and rumors spread that California would become another target. According to the Walt Disney Family Museum, Disney's studio manager called him that night to tell him that the Army would be moving in on us". The next day after war was declared Disney's studio lot was turned into a military installation to protect a Lockheed aircraft plant that was nearby.

Disney productions had to drop all future projects and begin work on military training films commissioned by the military. Disney's traditional cast of characters, including Donald Duck, Goofy, and the Seven Dwarfs were featured in many of the shorts used to educate, inform, and incite the public about the war.

Disney himself took on a personal project for the war effort which was creating unique insignia to not only bring humor to units, but to help boost morale at home and overseas.  More and more of Disney's art was used as decals on tanks, trucks, bombs, planes and many different types of military transport and equipment.

Disney created an insignia design unit within Disney Productions Studios. Working with Hank Porter, Roy Williams, Bill Justice, Van Kaufman, Ed Parks, and George Goepper, Disney created more than 1,200 insignia throughout World War II.

A valuable war effort by Disney and Disney Studios, he created them free-of-charge. Disney himself served during World War I in France through the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver and understood the need to have something close to remind the men of home.

Disney once said "The insignia meant a lot to the men who were fighting. I had to do it. I owed it to them."

The 62nd emblem was completed in April 1943 while the squadron was fighting the Axis Powers in Europe. Disney personally delivered it with Pine accepting it on behalf of the squadron. The boxing bulldog is still used as the squadron's emblem and inspires the pilots of today just as it did 74 years ago.

"It is a privilege to serve in a fighter squadron whose legendary past includes 12 aces, 357 kills, and a patch that was designed by Walt Disney," said Capt Joseph Stenger, 62nd FS A flight commander. "The pictures we have of the original 'Spike Aces' and squadron patch are a salient reminder we're serving in an organization that was taking the fight to the enemy long before we were born, and will continue to do so long after we're gone. Those P-47 pilots set the bar very high and it's our job to uphold the standard they set and ensure the pilots we train will do so as well."