BIRDDOGS VS. BIRD DOGS
(Catkillers vs. Cat Killers deja vu)
by Gene Wilson, Catkiller Historian
As I worked my way through the great history of the 220th Aviation Company, from its activation at Fort Lewis, Washington, on 31 March 1965, to its inactivation at Da Nang Marble Mountain Air Facility, Vietnam, on 26 December 1971, I have enjoyed a rare and unusual opportinity to muse and ponder many interesting “stories” along that journey.
While I do not consider myself to be an “expert” or “end-all” on any of the following, may I share some of my thoughts just for the sake of adding a catch-all to my previous writings? And, if anyone has better information, comments, corrections or whatever, please let me know.
Did we fly “Birddogs” or “Bird Dogs?” The answer to this question may depend upon when one completed flight school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Camp Gary, Texas; or Fort Rucker, Alabama. Minard Thompson, “Mr. Birddog,” probably has the best historical information on this question in his book, THE LOVEABLE ONE-NINER, The Complete History of the Cessna L-19 Birddog.
Take a look at Chapter Two, pages 19 through 23, particularly the section, The small warbird gets a name — BIRDDOG. After the ceremony introducing it to the Army, it took the local media and newspaper less time than the ceremony had taken to call it Bird Dog (probably because Webster’s Dictionary did not, and still does not, recognize the one word spelling and the ‘correction’ was made before the ‘error’ was published). As we are about to establish a memorial to the deployment of the eleven L-19/O-1 Army Birddog Aviation Companies that saw service in Vietnam, it is only fitting that we recognize the heritage and legacy of our beloved aircraft.
PHOTOS and writings of the birth of the Birddog, from Minard’s collection:
NOTE: I have personally talked with Minard and obtained his permission to use his material with proper accreditation.
In case you find it difficult to see the writing on the front cowling, just above the air filter, the word in script is: Birddog. The photos in Minard's book are much clearer. Also, highlighting added to above letter by editor.