From the Stars and Stripes archives

Leopard on prowl at Hahn base

Pilots from the 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing pose with their mascot, Sabre, at the Hahn, Germany, air base in 1953.


By ROBERT J. DUNPHY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 3, 1953

HAHN — The 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing's jet jockeys are not seeing spots before their eyes — there's a leopard loose on the air base here.

Sabre, the 9-month-old mascot of the wing's 81st Sq, is placid enough most of the time, except when she remembers that she's a leopard and decides to assert herself.

She's allowed to roam free all day long and seldom raises a howl. The clue to her contentment might be that she thinks she's living with a pack of other leopards. The pilots of the 81st wear crash helmets covered with leopard skin and carry out the motif with leopard skin insignia.

Purchased by the unit when the 81st was at Clovis AFB, N.M., Sabre was flown to Germany with the 50th Wing when it moved here in August. Airmen and officers pitched in $250 to buy the animal from the Pittsburgh Zoo when it was six weeks old.

First Lt Donald L. Mikell has been appointed unofficial keeper of the beast, and he's got scars to prove it. His system is simple — when the leopard bites him he bites back.

The men of the 81st have chipped in $75 to have a special house constructed to keep her from prowling about the base at night.

Sabre inspects one of the aircraft she's named after.