Worldwide Fraternity of Turtles, Inc.
Samuel Thornton, Founder
TaCreacia Blunt, Grad Imperial Turtle
The World Fraternity of Turtles is an organization that was popular among military service members during the World War II time period. The organization was created January 12, 1943 for Army Air Corps fighters to relax, drink and keep their mind off of the current situations in life. The fraternity of Turtles as we know it today originated in Europe as an informal “drinking club” between World War II bomber pilots, self-described as “an honorable drinking fraternity composed of ladies and gentlemen of the highest morals and good character, who are never vulgar”. According to popular belief the organization was first formed under the name “Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles” in an English Pub by the late Captain Hugh P. McGowan. What made this “fraternity” different from any other drinking social group is that the military personnel emphasized not to be vulgar and think clean thoughts. Being of good character, high ethics and morals, and the basics of any military soldier; they did not want to embarrass themselves or their comrades in arms just to relax and enjoy themselves.
They created a list of questions and answers to initiate the people into their fraternity. The questions caused a person to think with clean thoughts and take their time on answering the questions. If the “hatchling” was to get the question wrong, come up with a vulgar answer or take too long to answer the hatchling would have to take a shot of liquor. Of course, by the time the final questions were asked, soldiers were very intoxicated which made the answers even more interesting. The bond between the soldiers, every race and branch, grew and the higher enlisted and officer’s maintained control and responsibility to make sure no one would get hurt. The following is an excerpt from CPT McGowan describing how he and a few friends formed the Turtles:
"We were flying daytime bombing missions over Hitler's Third Reich. We just wanted a little fun. We had seen a sign showing that the 'Ancient Order of Foresters' and the 'Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffalos' would meet in the local pub, and so I asked the governor of the pub what was that all about? The pub's governor told us that the clubs' local branches would meet in the pub's back room, and that he would give them reduced prices for their pints and drinks for holding their meetings at his pub. I asked him if our club could meet there, and he agreed, and asked for the name of our club. I told him that we were the 'Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles,' and it stuck.
I devised the name 'Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles' for the fun of it. It soon spread throughout the bomber pilots, then the fighter pilots, and soon to other bombing groups and squadrons, and to other air bases. We even initiated members of the other Services, and soon, even Allied pilots were being initiated as Turtles in the backrooms of pubs across England. The Order was not meant to be serious, as it had no constitution or by-laws, no formal applications for membership, no dues or fees, and a simple initiation ritual. It was a relief from the horrors and dangers we saw every day on our missions. It spread after the War through the Masonic Order, the VFW and American Legion posts, and eventually, to colleges and even to the high schools of the U.S.A."
As time went on, the organization grew into more as a drinking game at fraternity parties or backyard celebrations. It still created bonds and memories but lacked the supervision and proper control of people like the higher enlisted and officers because it was held by civilians. Not to say the people we not responsible enough to handle what was going on, but military personnel are held at a higher accountability and regulations than regular civilians. Things would happen like arguments, fights, motor vehicular accidents, alcohol poisoning and everything that could have been ethically and morally wrong. Some people would associate the organization with just negative thoughts and opinions.
On July, 23 2009 a former soldier, then was working as a civilian contractor overseas, decided to bring the organization back to life. In today’s military environment all branches of the military work together. Bringing back the World Fraternity of Turtles in the military domain was a good way to bring back that old comradely during another war time period. Mr. Sam Thornton seen the fraternity as a way out, not only, for military personnel but for stressed regular Americans. The ability to relax, have fun and belong to a social organization that does work in the community was an idea that quickly spread.
Because of the negative previous issues that the organization had, Mr. Thornton took the militaristic approach by making sure actual members were tracked on role by areas called “ponds”. Supervisors of every state are in ranking order: District Deputy Grand Imperial Turtle (DDGIT-President of State), Special District Deputy Grand Imperial Turtle (SDDGIT-Vice President of the State), President of every “Pond”/city and Vice President of Pond.
Every President and Vice have the responsibility to make sure everyone does enjoy themselves, but setting rules for community service, water intake, alcohol intake, code of conducts, members tracking, hatching rules and other safety regulations. Every pond is responsible for their own rules but having fun and relaxation among trust worthy people is still accomplished. The external pressures of negativity changed the ethical approach of the organization to create an environment to pass on the fun militaristic tradition with the safety of its participants in mind.