LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Disney animator Ward Kimball, who created the character Jiminy Cricket and had a hand in creating the modern version of Mickey Mouse, passed away on June 8 in Arcadia, California, due to natural causes. He was 88 years old. Kimball was one of Disney's famed "nine old men" animators.
Jiminy Cricket, who first appeared in the 1940 movie "Pinocchio", eventually served as the beloved mascot of the USAF's 23rd TASS. In 1966, Col. Robert L. Johnston went to Udorn AFB in Thailand to set up a secret program to place regular O-1 FACs in the northern Steel Tiger area of Laos. Col. Johnston suggested calling the secret endeavor "Operation Cricket" - the name of his pet dog. Crickets are also considered very lucky in Thai culture, so the name stuck with the unit, even though the FACs used the callsigns Gombey and Nail.
On April 29, 1966, USAF Capt. John C. Taylor sent a request to Mr. Walt Disney for a patch for the unit, and Mr. Disney obliged by having his company design the famous Jiminy Cricket FAC patch.
The OV-10 Bronco Association extends our heartfelt condolences to Ward's family and friends.