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What's the story with that darn duck?

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Airman 1st Class Michael Bailey, 114th Maintenance Squadron, holds the "Ammo Duck" as he prepares to deploy on state active duty May 30, 2011.  The heavily decorated duck decoy has become a sort of mascot for the Ammo shop and it is tradition that each new member must take the duck on their first deployment.(Photo by Lt. Col. Reid Christopherson)(RELEASED)USAF

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Airman 1st Class Michael Bailey, 114th Maintenance Squadron, holds the "Ammo Duck" as he prepares to deploy on state active duty May 30, 2011. The heavily decorated duck decoy has become a sort of mascot for the Ammo shop and it is tradition that each new member must take the duck on their first deployment.(Photo by Lt. Col. Reid Christopherson)(RELEASED)USAF

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - -- When members of the Ammo shop of the 114th Maintenance Squadron were called to help with flood duty in Pierre and Dakota Dunes, they deployed with a specially qualified member accustomed to water. This webbed footed member is none other than the official mascot for Ammo. An old duck decoy fittingly named 'Ammo Duck' accompanies new members from the Ammo Shop on their first deployments.

The duck will usually find a good hiding place in a deploying member's bag-most of the time unbeknownst to that member- only to be found once they arrive on location. It is then the member's responsibility to keep the duck safe and make sure it has fun until it can be returned to the 114th Ammo shop. The duck is older than many of the new members
challenged with keeping track of it.

Master Sgt. Tracy Hornstra, ordinance system mechanic, explained the long history of this symbol of morale. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Gunther Kondert acquired the duck decoy on a trade for a few scraps of wood from retired weapons technician Master Sgt. Terry Gannon.

"The tradition started in 1985 when someone hid the duck in Master Sgt. Brad Hoaas' chemical bag on his deployment to Royal Air Force Waddington, United Kingdom. "It was much to Brad's surprise, as well as the British Airmen, when the chemical bag was dumped out," explained Hornstra.

"Since then, the duck has made appearances all over the world," said Hornstra. "It's been on every deployment with Ammo members from Turkey, Korea, Belgium, Israel, Hawaii, Iraq and more."

Other shops have been known to capture the duck and hold it for ransom. There are even written rules explaining conditions to get the duck back.

Ammo Duck is adorned with several souvenirs from its deployments. It wears dog tags, zip ties, and necklaces. The Airman is responsible for getting Ammo Duck a new souvenir from each deployment. Not only is Ammo Duck a morale booster it also reinforces the wingman concept with their motto: no duck left behind.