HOW TO BE MARRIED TO A MARINE FIGHTER PILOT--A Marine Corps pilot's wife: F-4s, F/A-18s and aviators from my perspective.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Aviator Brief: Call Signs II (continued)

Okie, of course, hailed from Oklahoma and had an accent and an outlook on life to prove it. Slug must have reminded someone at some time of a big, slow thing.

Given names were common fodder for call sign generation: Swizzle’s last name Cwaliscz, properly pronounced “Fah-leash”--impossible to see and say, Donut’s last name of Duncan, Bolt’s last name of Leitner, Soup’s last name of Campbell. J.C.’s first name and middle initial was John C., but he built his reputation doing stunts in and out of airplanes that made others say, “Jesus Christ!”

Some earned the name they carried by their actions. One lieutenant said he earned his call sign Dangler while out on the carrier with VMFA 323--the Snakes. On the way back from a busy combat hop, he was in marshall--stacked in the queue waiting his "Charlie" time when he could land. He decided he needed to take a leak, so he got out a piddle pack and took care of business before being notified he was “on the ball” to land. Distracted from what he had been doing, he focused on catching the wire to get aboard the carrier. After a successful landing, parking and being chained down, he climbed out of his fighter, walked across the deck, took care of the paperwork in maintenance control and returned through the ship to the squadron ready room. Upon entering the ready room, one of his fellow pilots said, "Dude. Did you know your dick is hanging out?" Dang.

Could any pilot be smart enough to stay alive but dumb enough to leave his manhood blasted by the twenty-five knots of wind or more whistling across a flight deck?

Snatch insisted his call sign meant ‘to grab fast’ and came from his ability to snatch victory from defeat in a dogfight. He never explained the inevitable laughter or its connection to a synonym for a female nether-part.

A Musing:

I would want to be named after the place I came from--if only my choices were better. Having a call sign of ‘California’ or ‘Claremont’ is unwieldy. The shortened versions: ‘Cali’ sounds like a cartel and ‘Monty’ is not for me.

My brothers nicknamed me ‘Whale Spout’ for the topknot I wore unwillingly through 2nd grade, and then ‘Mah-sah’ as if saying my true name weirdly made it a bad thing. Funny. It did.
My roommate from college called me ‘Jones’ because it was my last name when we met, but it isn’t as funny as Donut’s or Swizzle’s or Soup’s.

The best would be a name relating to my most embarrassing moment like Dangler’s. I could be named after my poor choice of an overhead. Always a challenge to think up fun activities that will not tax the abilities of an unknown substitute, I loved different media to communicate ideas. 12 and 13 year olds can be a tough audience, especially sixth grade gifted and talented ones. Using a comic book format for grownups History of the World page to review the differences between Athenians and Spartans seemed a good idea once I had blanked out the private parts of the Spartans. (Spartans exercised and competed in the nude.) I then made an overhead transparency. Unfortunately, I neglected to read the speech bubbles. One included a verb and a description of who Spartans liked to do that verb with--completely inappropriate to a class of sixth graders, no matter how smart they were. However I did not discover my error through the sub’s notes (she never mentioned it) or through angry parents’ phone calls to the district (there were none). I discovered my grievous mistake while reviewing for the chapter test on the overhead with my class. They kept me from putting the offending transparency up to the light by telling me I might want to read it first, carefully. Only the kids whose parents would think it was funny were told my story. I loved that class.

So they could call me ‘Hump’.

I’m glad I don’t have a call sign.

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