Plucky Pony

Airmen with the 27th Fighter Squadron at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., painted one of the unit’s F-22s with the nose art of the squadron’s highest scoring ace of World War II, Maj. Thomas E. Maloney. They rekindled a unit tradition in the process. Mirroring Maloney’s P-38, the F-22 bears the historic caricature of “Maloney’s Pony” in subdued tones on its intake. “It’s an indescribable honor to see my father’s legacy carried on into the next generation,” said Rick Maloney, son of the late ace, who was on hand for the unveiling at the base last week. In 1944, Col. R. S. Richards, 1st Pursuit Group commander, declared that the 27th FS would henceforth christen any aircraft bearing Maloney’s numerals “23” as Maloney’s Pony. Even when modern fighters stopped employing that numbering convention, the 27th FS kept a fighter in the historic livery. However, “the tradition died when we lost the F-15s, so bringing it back was the big thing for us,” explained Lt. Col. Peter Fesler, 27th FS commander. Maloney had eight confirmed kills during the war. (Langley report by SrA. Jason Brown)