Happy Birthday, 322 Squadron, RNLAF!

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The oldest squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), 322 Squadron, celebrated its 70th anniversary yesterday with its original mascot, Polly the Parrot, albeit stuffed. Also know as Polly Grey, the parrot died in 1947 but was lost until her photo was found on the Internet in 2011 and was handed back to the squadron yesterday.

Dutch Ministry of Defense photo

The squadron was formed by Prince Bernhard in 1943 and flew Spitfires, and one of its missions was intercepting German V-1 flying bombs. After World War II, it was deployed to the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea.

Dutch Ministry of Defense photo

Between 1964 and 1981, it flew F-104 Starfighters, which has a certain irony given that its founder was forced to give up all publc offices, including inspector-general of the armed forces, stripped of military honors and forbidden to wear a uniform because of the Starfighter affair.

Image: NMIH

Since then, it has operated F-16s, including over former Yugoslavia, Libya and Afghanistan, where four of its aircraft are currently deployed.

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