21st Squadron               Activated 1961








1963     "Blackjack Twenty-One"     

Description: The patch is circular, with two playing cards, the Ace of Spades on top of the Jack of Spades, centered on a green field. The white number “21” is beneath the cards and the patch is surrounded by a black border.

Significance: The Ace and Jack of Spades form the winning combination of 21 in the card game Blackjack, representing both the squadron’s number and nickname. This winning hand symbolizes the ingredients of character necessary to attain success: skill, spirit, ability, and fellowship. The green color represents the mixture of gold and blue, the colors of the classes of 1963 and 1964 that commanded the squadron when the patch was designed and adopted.

History: This patch was adopted by the cadets of Twenty-One in 1963 and has been in use since. It was designed by Cadets Hank Hoffman and Grant Callin.

Nickname: "Blackjack"

  1965 –



Falconews: “Blackjack 21” was formed in the fall of 1961. Establishing itself early, the squadron attained Honor Squadron in 1963. The squadron boasts All-Americas Jack Hudson, pistol, Jim Murphy, track, and Rhodes Scholar Bart Holaday.  – C3C Stephen Scheufler, Class of 1976, Falconews, 29 March 1974


The green background of the patch represents the mixture of blue and yellow, the colors of the classes that adopted the patch in 1963. The ace and jack of spades together amount to “21” and more symbolically, represent the winning combination of skill, spirit, and ability that drives our squadron.  – 1975 Polaris


Personal Recollections


Grant David Callin and I were roommates from '61 to '63, and were there the day the squadron was started. (BTW, Lance Sijan was also there, in our element, on that day)  Major Lawrence J. Rooney was the AOC, and he put out a contest to design a patch, with the winner to get a free weekend pass. The ground rules were "no women, no booze, and no gambling" on the patches. Grant and I agreed there was only one choice, but it violated the no gambling thing. Grant didn't care, and so he submitted the idea, but coerced me to draw it up for him. This was long before you could steal anything from the internet, and I wanted to draw a lovely jack, but I was pressed for time (always) and Grant was going to get the prize, so I put the ace on top. Easy to draw.  –  Hank Hoffman, Class of 1963 (January 2020)



During our senior year there was a Wing-wide contest to design squadron patches. My roommate, Hank Hoffman, and I decided to enter and came up with the idea of Blackjack card game, even though the original design criteria prohibited any gambling themes. Nonetheless we decided to go with it. We were very surprised when our design was chosen as the winner. – Grant David Callin, Class of 1963 (January 2020)



Sketches & Prototypes


This insignia appears in the archives of Special Collections with no documentation or explanation. It's purpose is unknown, but it was likely collected or created to serve as a prototype for the 21st Squadron. The artwork is annotated "21st Squadron Air Force Cadet Wing." There is no evidence this patch was ever used by 21st Squadron according to the members of the squadron who were there at the start.

This patch was never in use by 21st to my knowledge. I expect it belongs to some other unit.  –  Hank Hoffman, Class of 1963 (January 2020)