Today is POW/MIA Recognition Day, which always falls on the 3rd Friday of September. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1998, the day honors those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action. In tribute to this day we are launching two limited-edition flight jackets. Each one was inspired by the story of military heroes. Learn more about each jacket and the servicemen that each honors.
The MA-1 POW/MIA “You Are Not Forgotten” Flight Jacket
This jacket was first done as a one-of-a-kind jacket to honor POW/MIA Recognition Day 2015. The jacket pays tribute to these heroes and their families; it is inclusive of all services and conflicts. Let’s take a closer look.
The back of the jacket has at its center the iconic POW/MIA flag designed as a symbol of citizen concern about United States military personnel taken as prisoners of war (POWs) or listed as missing in action (MIA). The POW/MIA symbol is surrounded by patches honoring the soldiers that served in a variety of conflicts from WWII to Korea to Vietnam and culminating in Desert Shield / Desert Storm, the Iraq Campaign and the Afghanistan Campaign. These patches are arranged in order of “seniority” across four rows, with WWII at the topmost position.
The Right Sleeve
The right sleeve features patches from all five services, emphasizing the joint nature of the U.S. military and bringing home the point that all of our service branches operate together. These patches have also been arranged by seniority, from top to bottom, with the most senior service (oldest), the U.S. Army, at the top of the right shoulder.
The front of the jacket again features a large iconic POW/MIA flag.
The Left Sleeve
The top of the left sleeve features the U.S. flag, a position it occupies in a variety of military working uniforms.
The MA-1 “Fear the Bones” Flight Jacket
For this bomber we were inspired by the story of Ensign Jack Ernie from USN VF-17. The squadron provided air support for the invasion of Okinawa in 1945. Launching from the USS Bunker Hill, the fighter squadron was well-known for taking out Japanese aircraft. Foreign pilots feared the Skull and Crossbones that adorned the tails of their F-4U Corsair aircraft.
On April 1, 1945, Ensign Jack Ernie and his fellow pilots took to the sky to take down more enemy air power. As he was flying Ernie realized his plane was losing engine oil and tried to get out of the situation. Before he knew it his Corsair was attacked by two Japanese Zeroes. Ernie fought bravely and managed to take out one before the other overwhelmed him. As his plane was going down he made two transmissions – “Skipper, I can’t get out” followed by, “Remember me with the Jolly Rogers (skull and crossbones).”
Ensign Jack Ernie was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery that day. His remains were recovered years after that fateful day. By then VF-17 had been decommissioned but the skull and crossbones insignia they used was adopted by VF-84. Jack Ernie’s family told his story to the squadron and donated his skull and femurs, encased in glass, to the squadron thereby fulfilling his wish to be remembered to the Jolly Rogers.
To this day, Ensign Jack Ernie is retained on the squadron rooster and his skull and bones go with the Jolly Rogers wherever they go, serving as a symbol of courage and heroism for all Jolly Rogers to follow. The bomber jacket features a series of patches that honors the Jolly Rogers, their Skull and Crossbones and pirate cat squadron patches, and the bones of Jack Ernie. There is a special “Fear the Bones” flight tag along with the traditional red “Remove Before Flight” tag.