The distinctive emblems or symbols used by AFEES are twofold, (1) the AFEES flag with its winged boot and (2) the helping hand receiving the parachuting airman.
The following appeared in the Summer 1988 issue of the AFEES newsletter, Communications. It also appeared in the Fall (September) 2006 issue on pg. 31.
“Bob Laux Explains the AFEES Emblem
“The following was prepared by Robert V. Laux, an originating member of AFEES who came out of France via MGB503 & Reseau Shelburn in March, 1944:
“Members of the AFEES proudly wear the emblem of the Society. It appears, however, that the origin, meaning, and history of the patch is not known to all. The need for a symbol or logo for our group was discussed following the first reunion held in Buffalo, New York on May 15-16, 1964. At that reunion the only identification we had was a plastic enclosed name tag and we felt a permanent emblem or crest was needed ….
“The following is the origin and reasoning behind our emblem.
“The blue background represents the blue sky in which we flew. Blue was also chosen since the then recently formed separate Air Force had selected a blue uniform to differentiate it from the old U.S. Army Air Force uniform.
“Since we all wore wings representing our different positions or duties in the airplane, it was decided to use a common or general type of wing. The shield of the United States is enclosed in a circle for the center of the wings. Silver metallic thread was used since all our wings were made of a silver compound.
“AFEES stands for Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society. Air Forces was judiciously chosen to permit eligible men from all U.S. Air Forces to become members. The founding members had all been members of the 8th Air Force.
“The small shells on each side of the emblem represent the sea shells on the shore of Plage Bonepart.
“The winged boot in the center of the patch signifies that all members walked back from their last mission–Fly out—walk back. We felt that no matter how a member came out of enemy territory–whether he walked across the mountains or came out by boat–the winged boot was appropriate for all.
“The Latin phrase at the bottom–PRO LIBERTATE AMBULAVIMUS translates to FOR LIBERTY WE WALKED.
“The emblem first was available in about 1966-67 and was worn on our trip to Europe in 1969. It was suggested that the patch be worn on a Navy blue blazer. A pair of gray slacks was suggested to be worn to complete the “Uniform.”
“The original design was submitted by Harry Minor, an AFEES member who walked over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain in 1943”
Following Mr. Laux’s explanation was the following symbol:
The AFEES newsletter, Summer 2006, pg. 11, carried the following article:
AFEES Helping Hand
Another symbol for AFEES that has been used in different ways is the helping hand receiving a parachuting airman. Our thanks to the family of the late Guy Degive of Belgium and his father Andre Degive for sharing the colorful photo below of a quilt with the symbol. Mme. Degive was made a Special Life Member of the 8th AF Historical Society in 1991, as shown below, for her role in helping evaders.
The quilts for many years were made by AFEES member Dorothy Kenney, wife of Paul Kenney. For a photo of them at the 1993 AFEES reunion, see pg. 39 of the Summer 1993 newsletter. For a photo of another quilt by Dorothy Kenney, see pg. 1 of the August 1986 newsletter. It auctioned off for $375. On that same page, see the auctioning off of an AFEES license plate.
The symbol also has been used on the holiday greetings card that AFEES sends to helpers and their families each year. AFEES member Richard Shandor recalls that for many years Dorothy Kenney did the artwork for the cards. In the Winter 1999 AFEES newsletter, the editor said of her, “Dorothy Kenney is the artist who creates a new card each year and has
it ready for printing with attention to style and a total weight not to exceed l/2 oz. for overseas airmail delivery.”
And for those who favor a button, there has even been a helping hand button. AFEES member Mary Shier thinks the pins could have been a commemorative piece for when French helpers were brought over to the U.S. for a reunion in 1976.
Our thanks to AFEES member Margy Fricke for providing photos of the holiday card and the button.
The Winter (December) 2006, pg. 3, has an article about the pin. Click here and go to pg. 3.
According to the June 2004 AFEES newsletter, pg. 28, a money clip with the AFEES logo celebrating the 40th anniversary of the organization was to be mailed to AFEES life members unable to attend that year’s reunion.