Friday, March 17, 2017

Survivor: The Tidewater Industrial Tiger

Recently, bloggers and meme-makers around the world were saddened by the loss of an Indonesian tiger who served as the mascot of Subdistrict Military Command (Koramil) 1123 under the Siliwangi Military Command in West Java. It can be said that an army fears ridicule just as much if not more than an actual attack, and this case was no exception. Because the tiger elicited so much more laughter than the reverance or even fear that he was intended to inspire, the order was given to destroy him.

Maj. Gen. Herindra of the Siliwangi Military Command told the BBC that other similar mascots would be inspected to determine whether they are, in his words, “consistent with the original [military] emblem.”

Lest I lead you to believe that real animals are being destroyed during this army purge, I should clarify that these are statues; three-dimensional representations of unit emblems. It is with this in mind that I introduce you to the "Tidewater Industrial Tiger," who wrapped up a successful career as Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) Norfolk’s mascot at Naval Air Station Norfolk over 20 years ago.  

Although the facility has long been closed, its mascot lives on.

Once the largest single employer in Norfolk, Virginia, Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) Norfolk's name was changed to Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) Norfolk in 1987.  In 1993, the Base Realignment and Colsure Commission (BRAC) voted to close the facliity, which was carried out in 1996. (Hampton Roads Naval Museum)
His three-dimensional counterpart played a prominent role, in two-dimensional form, within a recent commemorative exhibit at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum about the closing of NADEP Norfolk in 1996.  

The exhibit, "Without Us, They Don't Fly: The Story of NADEP Norfolk," ran from September 2016 to March 2017. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)

The Tidewater Industrial Tiger, on display at a public event sometime during the 1980s. (Hampton Roads Naval Museum file photo)
Similar to his ill-fated Indonesian cousin, the wooden statue, created by workers at the facility that overhauled and repaired naval aircraft for most of the 20th century, was not the spitting image of its namesake emblem.  Nevertheless for thousands of attendees of airshows, parades, and open houses over the years, he was the embodiment of the facility. The tiger's image actially started out 50 years ago as a hand-painted sign at the entrance to Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) Norfolk, as it was known at the time.  

The entrance to the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) Norfolk, which gained that name in 1967, featured an early version of The Tidewater Industrial Tiger. (Hampton Roads Naval Museum file photo)  
Although he was never accessioned into the collection of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, the former Tidewater Industrial Tiger is safe from harm, and, at least until the writing of this post, has never appeared in a meme.  He currently serves as the mascot of a high school in Southeast Virginia.  

The former Tidewater Industrial Tiger as he appears today, sans globe, at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Virginia, home to one of the top ten high school football teams in the state. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington

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