What’s in a picture?  If you’re an organization, it can define who you are, for better or worse. Making yourself distinguishable, and having pride in that distinguishing factor can be a great morale boost for members of that organization.  That is what was mentioned when Squadron 80 decided to update its official emblem as a broader effort to modernize the unit and its headquarters.

There were a number of reasons that brought us to this.  Our previous emblem, believed to be designed sometime in the early 1980s, had served us well, but did not serve our purposes for a number of reasons.

Squadron 80’s old emblem patch, circa 1981.

  • Shape. As the auxiliary of the United States Air Force, we hold ourselves to many Air Force standards. Among them are those of the Air Force Historical Research Agency, as noted in A Guide to Air Force Heraldry. To that end, units of a higher echelon (in the Air Force, flag-bearing organizations) are to use modified heater shields, with a scroll along the bottom. Lower echelon units (including named and numbered squadrons) use discs, or circular shields, with either a rocker below or rockers on both the top and bottom. As we are a squadron, having a heater shield is a design violation.
  • Design. As AFHRA writes: “In designing an emblem for an organization, the most important factors to be considered are the organization’s history, its mission (such as reconnaissance, airlift, fighter, medical services, security, civil engineer, etc.), the proper symbols to be depicted in the emblem design, the placement of the symbolic elements or “charges” on the design field, and color selection.”  This design says very little about our history or mission, and its generic nature doesn’t do much to distinguish our squadron.
  • Color. Heraldry uses tinctures, or basic colors, to define how an emblem looks. As heraldry goes back centuries, well before the advent of photography or even mechanical reproduction, arms were described via the use of a blazon, which is a specific form of text used to accurately describe the design. The tinctures are split into metals (gold/yellow and silver/white) and colors (red, blue, green, black, and purple); metals are not meant to touch metals, and the same goes for colors. This particular design has two kinds of blue and two kinds of green, all touching each other, which makes for an extremely difficult verbal description of the emblem.

Thus, our plan was to create a new emblem that was unique, distinctive, identifiable, and symbolic. We wanted those who saw it to be able to see where we are and what we do in it. With these goals in mind, we went to work.

Step one was to ensure we started properly. As a numbered squadron, we should have a circular disc, and two of the up to six colors should be ultramarine blue and Air Force Yellow. That gave us a fine starting point, as we had a feeling we wanted to use the blue to rightfully represent the sky.


Two rockers were required, as we intended to create a motto for our unit at the same time. The bottom rocker is always reserved for the unit name. We put those fields in red–specifically, pimiento red–to match the triblade in the CAP logo, giving us a chance to give a nod to our parent organization.

San Jose is inside the Santa Clara Valley, which means we’re surrounded on most sides by mountains. This marks our environment of operations in a major way, so they needed to be represented accordingly.

However, the Santa Clara Valley is synonymous with Silicon Valley, and we would be remiss to not acknowledge that. To that end, we added circuit traces to the mountains, to make them look like printed circuit boards. They are silver to further represent the quicksilver mines of the last century, acknowledging the valley’s history before technology.

In the top center, we added a heraldic device known as an estoile, which has all wavy rays (in our case, sixteen). This is distinct from a heraldic sun, which has alternating wavy and straight rays. An estoile is not a typically used device, but it was chosen because of its use in the logo of the City of San Jose.

CAP owns the single largest fleet of small aircraft in the United States. Also, as partners with the USAF, we have been known to be involved in missions with fighter jets, among others. Having the two in formation demonstrates our role as part of the their Total Force. A prime example of this is training to secure the airspace over nearby Levi’s Stadium during Super Bowl 50.

Finally, we decided on a motto. Ut prosimus aliis is Latin for “So that we may be of service to others”, reflecting our status as a benevolent organization, and our focus on emergency services.

At last, we come to our completed emblem.  The blazon we wrote is as follows:

Azure, in dexter two mounts issuant vert fimbriated and charged with stylized circuit traces argent, in sinister a jet fighter and single-engine aircraft in formation flying to fess argent, in chief an estoile of 16 points Or. Bottom scroll: Gules, “SAN JOSE SENIOR SQUADRON 80” Or. Top scroll: Gules, “UT PROSIMUS ALIIS” Or.

Per CAPM 39-1, section 2.8.3, we submitted our design to the California Wing commander on 11Oct2018, and it was approved on 16Oct2018.

After approval, we put in an order for patches. Three weeks later, they arrived, and we couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.

No automatic alt text available.We hope this inspires other units who may have emblems they may find substandard to take a look at their history and create something they can be proud of for many years to come.


Isaac Wilson IV

1st Lt Isaac Wilson IV is the Assistant Information Technologies Officer and Assistant Communications Officer for San Jose Senior Squadron 80, as well as the Information Technologies Officer for San Francisco Bay Group 2.

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