|war eagle history|
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War Eagle History
The story of War Eagle is a colorful one, though shady in accuracy and lacking detail in many places. At present, Auburn has had six "War Eagles" as mascots- each of which has its own unique story. Delta Chapters affiliation with the War Eagle program dates back to at least 1960. Delta Chapter has maintained the "War Eagles" and their habitats since. In the spring of 2000, Delta Chapters strong affiliation and control of the War Eagle Mascot Program was cut short by outside forces. The following is a brief history of the War Eagle Program.
War Eagle I (1892)
War Eagle I's story dates back to the Civil War. According to legend, a soldier from Alabama was the sole Confederate survivor of a bloody battle. Stumbling across the battlefield, he came across a wounded young eagle. The bird was named Anvre and was cared for and nursed back to health by the soldier. Several years later, the soldier, a former Auburn student, returned to the college as a faculty member, taking with him Anvre. For years both were familiar sights on campus. One day in 1892, however, the aged eagle broke away from his master during Auburn's first football game. Anvre circled the field, exciting the fans. But at the end of the game, with Auburn the victor, the eagle fell to the ground and died. Whether truth or legend, such is the story of Auburn's first "War Eagle".
War Eagle II (1930)
Although the authenticity of War Eagle I has been challenged, Auburn's second mascot, War Eagle II, is well documented. In November, 1930, a golden eagle swooped down on a flock of turkeys in Bee Hive, Alabama, near Opelika, and became entangled in a mass of pea vines. Fourteen individuals and businesses scraped together $10 and purchased the eagle from the farmer who owned the pea patch. The bird was put in a strong wire cage and taken to the Auburn/South Carolina game in Columbus on Thanksgiving Day. Having not won a game for three straight seasons, the Plainsmen were anticipated losers. However, Auburn surprised everyone with a 25-7 victory over the Carolinians. The student body could only conclude that the eagle's presence on the sidelines was responsible for the win that day. The eagle was kept in a cage behind Alumni Hall and cared for by members of the "A" club. No one is certain what became of the bird, some say it died or was carried away by students of a rival school; others say it was given away to a zoo due to the high cost of upkeep; some even say that it was stuffed and put in the athletic museum. Whatever the case, the eagle is remembered today as Auburn's second "War Eagle".
War Eagle III (1960-1964)
Delta Chapter affiliation with the school mascot began with the arrival of War Eagle III in November, 1960. After being winged in Curry Station, Alabama, by a cotton picker who saw the bird caught between two rows of cotton, the bird was captured. The eagle was sent to Auburn by the Talladega County Agent along with a load of turkeys. It was first taken to the ATO fraternity house where it refused a cold chicken leg, but mad fast work of a live chicken. After staying for a while in one of the Wildlife Department's animal pens, the eagle was moved to a cage built by Alpha Phi Omega. Jon Bowden, a Brother who had previously worked with hawks in Colorado and Missouri, volunteered to serve as the bird's trainer. Formally named War Eagle II, Jon nicknamed the bird "Tiger". In April of 1961, Jon and Tiger made their first appearance as trainer and mascot on the baseball diamond. Auburn was playing Georgia Tech and was trailing 10-13 in the eighth inning. Auburn, however, rallied in the ninth, scoring 4 runs. The students were receptive to the new mascot and expressed their concern for a larger cage to house War Eagle III. In 1964, on the morning of the Auburn-Tennessee game, War Eagle II was seen by his trainer, Amos Elwyn Hamer, Jr., sitting on the ground next to his perch. He had sprung the clip on his leash. Before Hamer could do anything, the bird flew away. After several days of searching, the bird was found shot to death in a wooded area near where he escaped in Birmingham.
Δ 864 War Eagle IV (1964-1980)
The Birmingham Downtown Action Committee found another golden eagle in the Jackson, Mississippi zoo and presented it to the Auburn student body in October, 1964. This became War Eagle IV, also called “Tiger”. She lived in the large aviary located east of Jordan-Hare Stadium. The aviary was funded by Delta Chapter and named after War Eagle IV’s first trainer, Amos Elwyn Hamer, Jr., who was killed in a plane crash in December, 1965. Throughout the years, Delta Chapter provided care and training for the mascot, which was made an honorary member of Alpha Phi Omega. On the morning of the Auburn/Alabama game in Birmingham on November 29, 1980, War Eagle IV was found dead by her trainers Tim Thomason, Charlie Jacks, Bob Ingram, and her former trainer Bill Watts. She died of unknown causes at the age of 22 after having served as Auburn’s mascot for 16 years. A marble marker was placed in the Aviary in memory of her service.
Δ 995 War Eagle V (1981-1986)
Through the efforts of War Eagle IV’s trainers and with the financial support of the Birmingham Downtown Action Committee, an immature golden eagle was located soon after the death of War Eagle IV and was brought to Auburn from Wyoming. The bird arrived in Auburn on March 3, 1981, and was taken to the Veterinary School where she was kept for a few weeks in order to be examined and observed for any symptoms of shock from travel. She was then transferred to the small cage until the annual “A Day” game when she was presented to the University by the Birmingham Downtown Action Committee on May 9, 1981. The bird was in the stewardship of the U.S. Government and was on loan to the Auburn University Veterinary School, was named War EagleV, and nicknamed Tiger. She was approximately two years old at her arrival in Auburn. Tiger was very active on the campus. She attended many university functions, Alumni meeting, schools, hospitals, the 1985 BSA National Jamboree, and the 1986 Order of the Arrow Conference. On September 4, 1986, Tiger died of a ruptured spleen at the age of eight and one-half years. Tiger was taken to the Vet School that night before by her trainer,
Jim McAlarney, who noticed that Tiger did not respond normally to his handling. Jim spent that night at the Vet School while veterinarians made a futile effort to save Tiger’s life.
Δ 1079 War Eagle VI (1986-Present)
The Eagle Trainers began working soon after the surprising death of War Eagle V to find a new golden eagle. The Auburn University Alumni Association and many Auburn alumni aided this effort and a new eagle was located at the T. V. A. Raptor Rehab Facility in Land between the Lakes, Kentucky. The trainers, Bart Winkler and Gary Crawford, made the trip to the facility to receive Auburn’s new mascot. Funds for this trip were made possible through the donation of Thomas Chamberlain, an Auburn alumnus. The bird originally came from St. Louis, Missouri, where she was seized by federal agents and brought to Kentucky. Like War Eagle V, she is under the stewardship of the U. S. Government and is on loan to the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. She arrived in Auburn on October 8, 1986 and was approximately 6 years old. Alpha Phi Omega’s service to the War Eagle Program was ended in the spring of 2000. The Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center is the current caretaker of War Eagle VI.