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The Origin of the Foo Dog

Information from July 1997 Newsletter

The FOO DOG...our squadron's symbol... is seen everywhere, yet questions constantly arise as to its meaning and origin. Many theories are floating around as to what a FOO DOG really is, what it represents, and why VRC-50 chose it as the squadrons's emblem. This is an attempt to dispel some of those rumors and clear up the FOO DOG legend.

The VRC-50 FOO DOG, known as the Shismi Dog, is in reality a lion instead of a dog. The animal is prominent in the Buddhist Religion and widespread over the Far Eastern world, thus the Korean designation as "Lion of Korea." The Chinese also make reference to the animal calling it the "Dog of Fo," Fo, being the Chinese word for Buddha. Earliest traces of the animal show up in art form from the Han Dynasty dating from approximately 208 BC to 221 AD. The animal disappeared from use for the next 400 years, reappearing during the T'ang Dynasty, 618 to 917 AD.

The Shismi Dog is considered to be a fantastic animal and is usually the companion of Buddha. The animal is almost always shown with its paw on a sphere standing guard over the entrance to temples and tombs; thus discouraging evil spirits and wrong doers from entering, and maintaining peace and tranquility within the sanctuary.

When the emblem for the squadron was being designed, all features of the Shismi Dog fit well, including the sphere. The designers, however, changed the sphere to a red ball, to symbolize the movement of high priority materials drawing on history's "Red Ball Express" of WWII fame. Secondly, the red ball represents the red "Meat Ball" on the carriers optical landing system which denotes a low, unsafe pass, thus the Shismi Dog guards the squadron pilots against the appearance of the red ball, ensuring a safe carrier landing.

Our FOO DOG is a symbol of peace and the guardian of the squadron. It has helped ensure the swift and safe completion of our mission for over twenty-eight years of service.