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"The Germans call them...the Bastards."—General Fenech, Inglourious Basterds
Soldiers in a large army may feel rather unimportant being identified as a member of the 103rd Orbital Magic Fighter Group or the 486th Combined Rapid Assault Platoon or whatever. To make themselves feel more distinct, they or their commanders come up with a more colourful nickname for The Squad. This might just remain a private joke, or it may eventually come into use among the higher-ups. In some cases, the name may be officially attached to the squad.
Standard issue for any regiment with a particularly fearsome reputation.
- The Black Tri-Stars from Mobile Suit Gundam may count, though they are a bit small for a squad.
- UC Gundam tended to arrange Mobile Suits in squads of three. See also the White Dingo team in Rise from the Ashes".
- Gundam ZZ's Gundam Team of three Gundams, the golden Hyaku Shiki and a giant hoverbike.
- F91 has Zabine Chareux's Black Vanguard squadron
- Victory has the ill-fated, all-female Shrike Team.
- Also maybe, Phantom Pain from Gundam Seed Destiny (their official designation is "81st Autonomous Mobile Group").
- All major military units in Berserk have nicknames of varying coolness. The Band of the Hawk is the one Guts joins.
- Pumpkin Scissors: Imperial Army State Section III, aka "Pumpkin Scissors". Rather subversive, seeing as they're a war relief unit, rather than a combat force.
- Strike Witches: The 501st Joint Fighter Wing, better known as the Strike Witches. The Blu-ray booklet also elaborates on other joint fighter wings, each with their own nicknames. The 502nd is known as the "Brave Witches," and goes further with "Break Witches" as an extension of the original nickname due to their penchant for destroying Striker Units. The 503rd is called the "Typhoon Witches"; the 504th "Ardor Witches"; the 505th "Mirage Witches"; the 506th "Noble Witches"; the 507th "Silent Witches"; the 508th "Mighty Witches"...plus "Glorious Witches" for HMW, "Storm Witches" for the Afrikacorps, and "Shinigami" for Fuso's 42nd Joint Fighter Corps.
- The Howling Commandos in the Marvel Universe.
- From Marvel's Transformers comics, The Wreckers for Autobots and the Mayhem Attack Squad for Decepticons.
- The title team of Suicide Squad is officially called Task Force X.
- The eponymous Inglourious Basterds. The 'lesser races' were referred to (even in official documents) as "bastards" by Nazi eugenicists.
- The title character of Sharpe commands the Chosen Men.
- The warriors under Tsubodai's command in the Conqueror books are referred to as the Young Wolves. Following this lead, Jochi names his tuman the Iron Horse, and decides to refer to Jebe's tuman as the Bearskins, much to the latter's annoyance.
- The Wheel of Time has banners such as Edorion's Hammers, Carlomin's Leopards, and Reimon's Eagles among the Band of the Red Hand.
- And there's the Fists of Heaven too
- Starship Troopers: 'Roughnecks'.
- The book and board game mention other units as well, such as "Anton's Apaches" and "Smith's Centaurs". After Rasczak is KIA in the book, a suggestion to rename Rasczak's Roughnecks "Jelly's Jaguars" is shot down by the commander. Alliteration is restored later on, when it becomes Rico's Roughnecks.
- In Jim Butcher 's Codex Alera, we have Rufus Scipio's Battlecrows Cohort and the Knights Pisces, which come from an Insult Backfire.
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen has a bunch of these, like the Bridgeburners and the Bonehunters.
- Star Wars gives us squadron names such as Rogue Squadron, Wraith Squadron, Twin Suns Squadron, the Tierfon Yellow Aces, or the Screaming Wookiee Squadron. The Rebel Alliance seems to eschew numerical designations altogether, and the most generic they get are color-based names (Red Group, Gold Squadron) for ad-hoc starfighter organizations. The Empire usually avoids this, or at least we don't hear about it very often, but the 501st Legion Division is commonly known as Vader's Fist. The One-Eighty-First squadron was called the One-Eighty-Worst until Fel shaped it up, at which point it was usually called "One-Eighty-First" in respectful tones, by Imperial and Rebel pilots alike.
- In Allegiance, the five defecting-but-still-Imperial stormtroopers liberate a spaceport from corrupt officials. The grateful natives want to know who they are, and the leader of the stormtroopers, who hadn't intended to call attention to them, panics and says "Mostly, we're known as the Hand of Judgment" and instantly regrets picking the name. As soon as they're alone, the other four stormtroopers mock him vigorously.
Quiller: "You could have just picked a unit number at random. It's not like he could have checked before we got offplanet."
LaRone: "Fine. Next time you can be the officer and group spokesman."
Quiller: "Great. Does that mean you're promoting me from finger to thumb?"
Grave: "No fair. I want to be the thumb."
- Speaking of the 501st, it's a Shout-Out from Lucasfilm to one of their most devoted groups of fans: an entire regiment (literally) of Cosplayers who show up in Imperial armor or uniform. As for the in-canon 501st, they're the ones Anakin leads in the Jedi Temple massacre, the attack on the Tantive IV, and the assault on Hoth.
- Monstrous Regiment gives us the "Ins and Outs" or the "Cheesemongers", named after a story about cheese, a soldier, and a young lady. Jingo gives us Colon reminiscing on his time in the "Pheasant Pluckers" regiment. Apparently, their official song was a little tough to sing right.
- In the Anita Blake book series, the police squad the titular character works with is the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (RPIT), nicknamed "Rip It" or simply "The Spook Squad".
- Each of the Wasp Armies in Shadows of the Apt- so far we have (in no particular order) the Hive, the Gears, the Barbs and a couple of others I can't remember right now.
- Although not a professional squad, the Animorphs group was nicknamed by Marco. It's short for "Animal Morphers".
- Babylon 5 has the Black Omega Squadron of Psi-Corps fighter pilots.
- The Wild Cards squadron from Space: Above and Beyond
- In the final episode of the series, The Captain, at first, orders a different squadron to launch at the incoming Chig fighters. Then belays his first order and instead orders to "deal out the Wild Cards", despite the squadron being on suspension at the time.
- Blackadder Goes Forth has the Twenty Minuters, but this is apparently a nickname for any and all fighter pilots rather than a specific squadron.
- Truth in Television; the pilots of the first world war were indeed sometimes known as the 'twenty minuters' due to the expectation it'd take them about that long to get killed once-airborne. Blackadder Goes Forth merely played with this by having the protagonists assume they'd only have to do twenty minutes' work only to be told the truth later on.
- The Warhammer 40000 'verse has groups such as ~Gaunt's Ghosts~ and the Last Chancers in the Imperial Guard, among others. There's also the numerous chapters of Space Marines and legions of Chaos Marines.
- The Ghosts have a double-whammy, as their official designation is the just-as-badass "Tanith First-And-Only", due to the wiping out of the rest of their planet.
- Tech Infantry has several, including the Raptors led by Colonel Arthur Clarke, the Red Scorpions, and Alastair Dimiye's Dead Boys Battallion.
- The Marine squads in Quake IV are named after various animals: Badger, Bison, Cobra, Cougar, Eagle, Fox, Grizzly, Kodiak, Raven, Rhino, Scorpion, Viper, Warthog and the Wolf Squads.
- Star Control has the Black Spathi Squadron who painted their ships black and performed "Acts of daring and near-suicidal heroism." This is from the race whose hat is Dirty Coward.
- Advance Wars Days of Ruin: "Brenner's Wolves" for the Rubinelle 12th Batallion.
- The "Aggressors" and "Cry Wolves" in Super Robot Wars. Also arguably the ATX and SRX team (those were named after projects, however), and the Octo Squad.
- Free Space 2: The "Suicide Kings" (flying light fighters down the barrel of Wave Motion Guns), among others.
- In Frontlines: Fuel of War, the player is part of the 125th Strike Division, known as the "Stray Dogs".
- Welkin Gunther of Squad 7 tends to call his own squad 7s
- In Ace Combat 5, the Demons of Razgriz, formerly known as the 108th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Wardog".
- This series loves this, both in the player's squads and enemy ace squads, some of which have more than one nickname (Shattered Skies, for example, has the player's 118th Tactical Fighter Wing "Mobius" and the enemy 156th Tactical Fighter Wing "Aquila", more commonly called "Yellow Squadron").
- One trailer for Mass Effect 2 refers to Shepard's team as the Dirty Dozen, although no one in-story ever invokes this.
- They probably don't have a squad nickname because saying "Shepard's Team" is scarier than anything else you can make up.
- According to some of Starcraft's fluff, Jim Raynor once belonged to the 321 Colonial Ranger Battalion, Heaven's Devils (probably a sort of reversal on the Hells Angels' name). The back cover of the art book is the fancy version of their unit emblem, and features The Grim Reaper and a machine gun.
- According to the book Heaven's Devils, young Raynor had his Powered Armor painted black with a skull on the visor.
- Most of the action in Madou Souhei Kleinhasa centers around the 502nd Independent Company, aka the Tiger Lilies.
- Front Mission has several of these. Front Mission First has the Canyon Crows, Hell's Wall, the Black Hounds, and the Silver Lynxes. Front Mission 2 has the Muddy Otters. Front Mission 3 has the Purple Haze, and the Wulong mercenaries. Front Mission 4 has the Durandal, and the Blauer Nebel, and Front Mission 5 has the Strike Wyverns, and Barghest.
- The Dragonslayers of the Whateley Universe.
- Survival of the Fittest: Happens from time to time when a group forms, starting with The Intrepid Six in Version 1, The Bloody Fists in V2, SADD in V3, and The Insane Commie Posse, Team Campbell and Team Ego in Version 4.
- The SCP Foundation has a whole page of them.
- The Simpsons: Grandpa Simpson was the commander of the "Fightin' Hellfish" (Or the "Flying Hellfish", depending on the scene.)
- The Joes in G.I. Joe don't have an official unit. They are just "G.I. Joes".
"G.I. Joe is the code name for America's daring, highly trained special mission force." That said, I'd say this more or less counts.
- 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force are known as the "Dambusters" for, well, that World War Two mission. Today they fly Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft.
- The Easy Company of the United States' 101st Airborne Division counts to some degree: the name "Easy" comes from "E Company" spelled in a pre-NATO radio alphabet (it would be nowadays "Echo Company"), but after its major role in the World War Two and the fame brought by Band of Brothers, "Easy Company" eventually became their moniker.
- The 101st Airborne as a whole calls itself the "Screaming Eagles" after the eagle on its unit patch.
- Interservice Rivalry being what it is, they're also called the "Chokin' Chickens" and "Puking Buzzards"...
- The rival 82nd Airborne Division were known as the "All-Americans," as when the division was originally raised, it was made up of soldiers from each of the then-48 states in the Union (hence the "AA" division patch).
- Another unit patch related nickname is the 1st Infantry Division. It's called "The Big Red One", because well....
- The 101st Airborne as a whole calls itself the "Screaming Eagles" after the eagle on its unit patch.
- The 332nd Fighter Group of the US Air Force, aka "Tuskegee Airmen", named after its initial home at Tuskegee, Alabama, and famous for being the first African-American fighter squadron.
- "The Flying Circus". Monty who? I meant the Red Baron's fighter squadron in World War One...
- "The Rats of Tobruk". During World War Two, Australian troops managed to halt a blitzkrieg launched by Rommel's Afrika Corps (the first Allied force to do so) and subsequently spent over six months besieged in the city of Tobruk. They survived first by hiding out in their intricate tunnel system and then by going on highly-cooridinated offensives against their besiegers. Nazi radio broadcaster Lord Haw-Haw tried to discourage the defenders by refering to them as "poor desert rats of Tobruk". The Aussies took the name and ran with it.
- The British Parachute Regiment are occasionally referred to as the 'Red Devils', in reference to their distinctive scarlet berets, but this seems to have fallen out of use in favour of simply referring to them as 'Paras'.
- It's more usually used now to refer to their display team instead.
- The Royal Marines are sometimes referred to as 'Bootnecks', presumably a reference to a close-fitting leather collar issued to infantry at the turn of the 19th century.
- The U.S. Marines are called 'Leathernecks' for the same reason. They are also referred to as 'Devil Dogs', Corps legend states this is because during an attack on a German position in WW 1 the gas mask wearing Marines began to foam at the mouth from the heat and gas, while the steep hill they had to climb made them clambor up on all fours. Seeing these rabid, four legged figures charging them, the Germans dubbed them 'Devil Dogs'.
- VMF-214 in World War II was known as the 'Black Sheep,' because the squad had essentially been cobbled together by replacements and volunteers and had never trained as a squad before their first combat missions.
- This is pretty much the norm for US Navy and Marine Corps air squadrons. Nicknames exist for practically all squadrons ranging from cool (VF-1 Wolfpack, VFA-154 Black Knights) to absurd (VF-114 Aardvarks).
- 1st Special Service Force: a WW II joint American and Canadian commando force known as The Devil's Brigade.
- The Kaiser, upon hearing that German forces were being held up in France while on their way to Paris, is said to have exclaimed his exasperation of "Sir John French's contemptible little army". This became the name adopted by a good chunk of the british regular army in WWI, "The Old Contemptibles"
- From World War II onwards, the Eighth Air Force, which earned the nickname "The Mighty Eighth" for their daylight precision bombing raids over Western Europe throughout the war.
- The United States 42nd Infantry Division, also known as the Rainbow Division, so named because when the National Guard was first Federalized for World War One, they formed the first such division with regiments from twenty-six different states to avoid problems with regional and state politics.
- Thanks to downsizing and regiments being merged, the British Army may actually have more squad nicknames than units. Most of them either have a long history (such as the Diehards, or the Ever-Sworded), or are very bad jokes (the Agile and Bolton Wanderers, or Hell's Last Issue).
- The Soviet WWII 46th and 588th Guard Night Bombers, all-female regiments, were known as "The Night Witches". If you don't know, a night bomber is an old WWI-esque wooden bomber that is light enough to glide unpowered for a relatively long time; the pilots used this tactic to stealthily fly above enemy lines after dark. Yes, they were Badass Action Girls that made the Germans actually be afraid of those old pieces of junk.