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Golden Age Origin
The Death Patrol was a squadron of criminals and misfits who fought for America in World War II. They were distinguished by their striped costumes that made them look like jail birds, though these birds flew fighter planes. In their first 12 appearances, members were frequently killed (one death in almost every issue) and new members added. The original team included Del Van Dyne (the leader), Butch O'Keefe, Peewee, Hank (the cowboy), Slick Ward, and Gramps. After Peewee and Slick died, there was Zazzy. After Butch died, there was Chief Chuck-a-Lug. After Zazzy died, there was the African native King Hotintot. After Gramps appeared to die, there was Boris "The Borsht Eater," the Patchwork Kid (Frere "Jackie" Jacques) and Mademoiselle de Armentieres. After Hank apparently died, there was The Goucho. After King Hotintot apparently died, there was his son, Prince Totintot and the Hindu mystic Yogi. Hank, Hotintot and Gramps returned from the "dead" having been nursed back to health while the rest of the team was busy with missions.
While the adventures of the Death Patrol were often absurd, beginning in Military Comics #33, Del Van Dyne was retired and the strip became almost entirely focused on humor, with very little drama. The team was fixed with Gramps, Hank, Hotintot, Jackie, Boris and Yogi, and eventually (beginning in Military Comics #36) they got a new kid leader named Junior.
All of the members of the Death patrol were skilled fighter pilots who flew unusual aircraft. At one point, they had an island base, much like Blackhawk.
Golden Age Appearances
- Military Comics #1-12, 20-43
- Modern Comics #44-52