3rd Squadron               Activated 1955








1962     "Thirsty Third"

Description: The patch is a blue, silver-bordered triangle with a gold numeral “3” in the center. Polaris shines beside and in front of the “3.”

Significance: Academics, athletics, and military, the three main endeavors at the Academy, are represented by the triangular shape. Trimmed with a silver border, the royal blue field symbolizes the U. S. Air Force Academy. The “Golden 3” depicts the wealth of ability found in the squadron, while the shining Polaris star to its left portrays the guidance we seek in fulfillment of our endeavors as officers in the U. S. Air Force.

History: This was the squadron’s original patch and was worn until 1977.

Nickname: "Thirsty Third"

  1965 – 1977



The gold three indicates 3rd Squadron. The blue and silver are the traditional colors of the Academy and the star represents the future as a career officer in the Air Force. Known as the “Thirsty Third,” it has led the Wing in drill excellence and parades. Their sponsors are the 5th Fighter Interceptor Wing, Minot AFB, North Dakota.  – C3C Mike Fortin, Class of 1976, Falconews, 29 March 1974


The patch of 3rd Squadron doesn’t have to be complicated to express its meaning. The star is the only motif for our patch, but it means more than words can express. The star is our past, our present, and our future. The star is what we strive for all our lives but can never reach. As Air Force Officers, we will lead all men in their “reach for the stars.”  – 1975 Polaris

1977     "Dogs of War"

Description: Circular in design, this royal blue patch is edged with a black border. The prominent feature is a lunging, silver, three-headed dog. Behind the dog are three red columns resting on a red pedestal. Across the tops of the columns is a red lintel bearing the word "Cerberus." Silver bands edge the base and the top of each of the three columns. Behind the columns is a yellow fire accented with red.

Significance: Cerberus is the gods’ three-headed watchdog with the tail of a dragon or a serpent; the three heads symbolize the qualities of loyalty, obedience, and fearlessness. The Roman numeral III links the squadron’s number and heritage to one of the greatest professional armies of all time. It also represents the gate that Cerberus guards. Fire, traditionally a symbol of eternity, represents the eternal and undying nature of the ideals of the Third Squadron.

History: The "Cerberus Three" patch, which replaced the original Third Squadron patch, was approved by the USAFA Cadet Uniform Board by telephone vote after Meeting Number 126 on 27 May 1977.

Nicknames: "Cerberus Three"   "Dogs of War"

  1978 –