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Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA

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I recently picked up this plaque and couple of pictures from the same estate. They belonged to Marine Warrant Officer Alex Ruskewitch, nicknamed "The Mad Russian." The plaque was given to Gunner Ruskewitch for his retirement in 1973 at MCAS El Toro and it reads:


C.W.O. - 4 A.P. Ruskewitch

"The Mad Russian"

U.S.M.C. #1 Gunner

April 1939 - June 1973

"Good Luck"


The reason I'm posting it here is because MCAS' insignia, El Toro "Flying Bull," was designed by Walt Disney Studios in 1944. While doing some research, I noticed that there are two MCAS El Toro insignias floating around. One is just like the one on the plaque (a flying bull), while the other one is a flying bison. Does anyone one know what is the story behind this?


Thank you!











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Probably some commanding general gave orders to get rid that goof looking on the bull's face :)


They kept the body shape the same and really the only change of note is to go from a cattle bull to a bison bull









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I think the buffalo head patch is the product of some post-war person's imagination. Obviously the buffalo patch shown is a fairly modern one. As far as I've been able to ascertain, the only official patch for El Toro is the bull patch. Now, the original Disney rendition, pictured below, differed in one major respect than that finally adopted by the Marines. That is, as you can see in the picture, the bull possessed a huge set of testicles. The patch was quickly modified that same year, 1944, neutering the bull. No doubt some guy on the approval board was jealous!!


Also, there was a reason a bull was chosen for that design. The bean field of the Irvine Ranch in Orange County which became the site of MCAS El Toro was located at the mouth of Canada Del Toro (Canyon of the Bull). No buffalos there.


I spent a lot of time on that base as a young man. My dad retired out of there and we lived nearby in Santa Ana. I was there a lot, and had a good deal going with the base thrift shop getting a crack at all the old uniforms and insignia that came in, and there was a lot of it. Those were nice days. I went back to the base a couple of months before they closed it. By then, many of the buildings, many dating back to WWII, were already gone. It was pretty sad.






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Well, I just found out where part of the problem is with this patch mix-up. I typed in "MCAS El Toro" into Google, and, among other sites, found the Wikipedia entry. It shows the same bison patch pictured above as being that designed by Disney in 1944. Whoever put that article together got it VERY wrong. Unfortunately, that's one of the problems with Wikipedia.


BTW, Gunbarrel, I hadn't noticed that the EGA tattoed onto the original design was missing from the subsequent design, which is pictured in the 1944 National Geographic insignia special issue, page 183.





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