“Shotgun” Patch and Call Sign

Recollections of Don Modica, Shotgun 6, 1965-66


While still at Fort Bragg, the unit had a contest to come up with a patch for the 221st Aviation Company. The winner was a dragon on a red, white, and blue shield with the name Flying Dragons across the bottom.

When we arrived at Soc Trang and got a feel for what other units had for a unit patch, the Flying Dragon didn’t seem to convey who we were and what we did. We set up a skull session with representation from both officers and enlisted, and started over with what we then better understood about our mission. We came up first with “Eyes Over Delta” to indicate we would be flying surveillance for the 13th Delta Aviation Battalion. After hashing that over we realized our mission was not tasked by the 13th Battalion, but by the individual province and sector commanders. “Eyes Over Delta” was then changed to “Eyes Over the Delta” to indicate that the missions would be in support of the ARVN IV Corps area. An inverted delta now represented the Vietnam delta area. While we were kicking around ideas, Art Littlefield, 4th Platoon Leader and the winner of the first patch go around, was sketching ideas. He came up with the “eyeball” and the twin shotguns. I do not think any of us were aware of the role that twin rocket tubes (shotguns) would play in the coming months! The oriental-style numbers for the 221st was a carry-over from the original Dragon patch.

The call sign “Shotgun” came after a discussion about “riding shotgun” just as the second man on a stage coach did while carrying a shotgun to ward off the bad guys. So, when Delta Flight Following wanted a call sign for each aircraft, we gave them “Shotgun” and followed it with each pilot’s designated position. Flight following wanted tail numbers, but we told them, no, we would be concerned about tail numbers, it was more important for them to know which pilot was up there! “Shotgun 49” gave us a great deal more information than “Shotgun 857.”

It worked, and it worked for the seven years the 221st Reconnaissance Airplane Company remained the “Eyes Over the Delta.”

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Monte Caylor