We’re sure you’ve been seeing that green plushy duck stuffed toy floating around social media whenever something cute about the RAF Lakenheath pops up your timeline. If ever it hasn’t, then this light, feel-good story is sure to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, especially for those military men who share a loving relationship with their daughters.
So what does a green plushy duck named Scoff the Duck have anything to do with F-15s and the 494th Fighter Squadron?
Captain Andrew Munoz and Scoff The Duck
Captain Andrew Munoz, formerly of the 494th Fighter Squadron and now 335th Fighter Squadron chief of plans, was previously based in the United Kingdom, specifically serving out of the Royal Air Force Lakenheath station in Suffolk.
Munoz was pretty much a military man who had been dedicated to serving his country by flying in the skies with his F-15E Strike Eagle. However, serving your country does have a price, especially if you’re all across the Atlantic away from your family. Capt. Munoz knows this feeling all too well. He had left his daughter at home for his country, and of course, he couldn’t help but feel a little bit homesick now and then.
Knowing that he would miss his daughter very much during the time he was deployed to the United Kingdom, Munoz borrowed one of her plushy stuffed toys so that he wouldn’t feel so lonely abroad. More so, he wanted to feel as if his daughter was right there beside him at all times, whether that be on the ground or inside his F-15E Strike Eagle when he was flying missions.
So to feel much closer to her, as well as to remind himself that he had someone to go back home to, he started putting his daughter’s green plushy duck stuffed toy on top of Munoz’s F-15 instrument panel. It’s similar to how you make your car homey, to make it feel as if it were home. And for our Air Force pilots out there, you know how much you spend on your aircraft while you’re deployed aside from the time you’re flying it. There’s also maintenance and upkeep to make sure everything is in tip-top shape, and also those times when you just want to hang out with the guys over at your planes.
Your aircraft is a lot like your home in a way, and Munoz wanted it to feel like it was home for him. Why? When he deployed to the United Kingdom, his daughter was just 4 months old—barely enough time to spend with your daughter, more so not merely enough for his daughter to have any recollection of him. Thus, he made sure that he had a piece of his daughter every time he flew, perhaps imagining that he could take his F-15 and go straight home to the States.
“I didn’t want my daughter to think I lived inside the phone,” said Munoz. “I took Scoff so she could connect me with something she had possession of in reality. It was a crucial bonding experience for us,” said Munoz in a statement.
Eventually, the Scoff the Duck who would be sitting on his instrument panel would gain some popularity among the servicemen and women on the base as its color was very eye-catching. Plus, aviation enthusiasts said that the green plushy added personality to the aircraft, reminding them that the pilot was a real person rather than just some random guy flying an F-15. The duck was eventually named “Scoff” after the AA-10D heat-seeking missile colloquially known as “duck.” Munoz apparently had always said “Don’t scoff the duck” before every training sortie, and it just stuck according to him.
However, Scoff the Duck wasn’t the first memento of his home he took with him to the skies. During his first tour of duty, he found his daughter’s little sock while unpacking his personal items at the base, which made him very sentimental about his deployment.
“It was a very tough moment,” said Munoz. “That was my first lucky charm. A reminder of what I had depending on me to make it home safely,” he explained. Altogether during his first and second deployments, he was separated from his daughter for half of her life, making it very tough for Munoz to catch up with the time he had lost during her formative years.
A selection from this weeks trip to @48FighterWing Managed to see everything I wanted: Aviano F16’s (including the Have Glass V), 493rd FS heritage jet, and even a guest appearance by Scoff the duck with his Panther friends. pic.twitter.com/pH1i1x6h9K
— Mike Keightley (@Mikey_Vengeance) September 12, 2020
However, Munoz can now sleep better at night as he had flown his final flight for the 494th Fighter Squadron last 2020. He is now reunited with his family at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, where he enjoys not only his time with the Air Force but also coming home to his daughter every night. Scoff the Duck, on the other hand, serves as the mascot of the Liberty Wing, eagerly awaiting to be reunited with Captain Munoz.
“I think it will be a special memento for her when she grows up,” said the captain. “She will have something to remind her that she was always with me in some kind of way, no matter where I was in the world,” said Munoz in a statement.