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Bullet: a real ‘wing’ man

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As the sun rises over the forest canopy at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, the common sound of freedom emanating from the F-16 Fighting Falcons overpowers a more unusual avian cry — the rooster’s crow.

An homage to the Carolina Gamecocks and the mascot of the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions flight, Bullet #7, a feisty fowl, can frequently be found strutting around the grounds claiming them as his own.

“He’s probably two and a half years old,” said Tech. Sgt. Brian Beaty, 20th EMS senior munitions inspector. “He’s definitely a morale-booster out here. You see when younger Airmen get here they laugh and talk about him, ‘Hey, did you see what Bullet did?’”

The unit members provide their feathery friend, who lives on the ammo compound, with shelter, food and family.

“Everyone pitches in to feed and water him; he probably eats more than he should,” Beaty laughed.

Although Bullet is not always the most amiable pet, frequently picking and choosing who he likes based on their mannerisms and his mood, the tradition of keeping a rooster — which started around 2003 — provides Airmen with a conversation starter to bond over as well as entertainment.

Despite being accustomed to having a rooster around, the ammo troops still take note of each bird’s individual personalities and quirks, such as Bullet’s undying love for a yellow sticker on a back-up generator near his coop.

“That generator’s new, hasn’t been here even a year yet,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Childress, 20th EMS material section chief. “That’s Bullet’s thing, he’s always over there puffed up and showing off to the sticker like it’s his girlfriend. We have no clue why that particular sticker.”

Although Bullet does not wear the same uniform as the rest of his unit, there is no doubt he is a part of the ammo family.

“He’s one of us,” said Childress. “He doesn’t go out on the job with us, but he’s still part of the flight. … He’s our guard chicken.”

Throughout the day, Bullet makes his presence known with his loud crows and provides spontaneity in the compound, helping his wingmen to laugh with his antics.