|Photo by ForestWander Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0|
|Public Domain Photo|
No, dear readers, this post is about me and two nicknames, one of which was hung upon me in tech school shortly after the last of the glaciers had receded from North America and the woolly mammoths were dying out in droves. The other I received while assigned to the sunny, semi-tropical isle of Okinawa.
Yup, it was a long, long time ago. Mid-70s to be precise. Round about '75 to '77. As I recall.
So there I was...*
First of all, the nickname "Bambi" occurred so far back in time that when FRaVMotC Russ mentioned it in the comments the other day, I really had to think about it. Hard. After a great deal of cogitation, I remembered, vaguely (as through a glass, and darkly) the origin of that particular cognomen.
When I was assigned to Lowry AFB the first time, it was to learn the mysteries and sacred rituals of the AN/APQ-109A radar set, as mounted upon the mighty F-4D Phantom II fighter-bomber. This was a fairly long course of instruction.
|This beast (Source)|
It began with basic electronics and ended with the actual radar itself. All drummed into our wee heads by a corps of dedicated, "been there, done that" instructors, of whom Russ was one. (Though I did not know him at Lowry, we did work together on Okinawa, where I picked up that "Chuckles" moniker. Thank God, Russ didn't follow me to Korea for I would, no doubt, be reminded of many other things I have said and done and would then have to remember and blog about. The brain, it tires as one gains age.)
So, as I remember it, a bunch of us brand new "right out of the box" airmen arrived at Lowry in late June / early July in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Five. We knew how to fold our underwear, hang our uniforms in a locker and upon ourselves and we could march in formation and respond to simple commands.
No, we were not much use at all to the mighty United States Air Force. That's what tech school would do, give us useful skills which could then be used to defend our way of life and bring the joys of freedom to the benighted shores of far away lands. (When we weren't chasing the women and drinking the native hooch in those far away lands.)
We had a troop by the name of Donald Downs (IIRC) in our squadron, also a budding WCS superstar (an E-model type methinks) who was good buddies with my roommate and Yours Truly. Of course, he became Donald Duck, or simply, "The Duck."
|Public Domain Photo|
Uh yeah, that guy.
Needless to say, I found that funny, no, hysterical. It was, to me, hysterical. As it was to my roommate, whose real name escapes me.
Yes, Airman Downs hated that nickname. Primarily because whenever he came into a room, we would all make quacking noises à la Monsieur Donald. Because he hated it, it stuck. That's what happens. Don't like a nickname / callsign? Embrace it, love it and tell everyone how wonderful it is...
Nope, they'll just change it to something else.
If you let folks know how much you hate it, it will stick. (By the way, don't try reverse psychology, as dogs can sense fear, people who bestow nicknames / callsigns can sense reverse psychology. It is known.)
So of course, The Duck had to retaliate. I think he heard my roommate's girlfriend call him "Sugar" once, so yes, roomie became "Sugar," later shortened to "Shoog" (spelled phonetically, as "Sug" doesn't look right). Follow me, so far?
Of course, I laughed hysterically at that nickname too. And yes, my roommate hated it. I should have known to stop right there. But no, I'm not that smart.
So of course, between the two of them (which one I don't remember) they decided that I too needed a nickname. Something insulting. Something I would hate. So they came up with...
How the heck was I Bambi? I'm not young and fragile. I don't frolic in the forest with Flower and Thumper. I don't...
Now I saw it. The perfect nickname. I hated it. So it stuck. Duck and Shoog laughed their asses off. So did everyone else who heard it.
I. Was. Furious.
I thought it was isolated to just the guys in my squadron. Until I went to class one night.
Now I need to digress here for a moment. (Surprise, surprise, surprise. To quote Gomer Pyle.)
In the radar part of tech school, I went to class from 1500 to midnight (C shift, they called it). If you remember this story, my instructor, SSgt Bill Ames, was a really cool guy. (In fact, all of the instructors on C shift were pretty cool. Including the guy in charge, MSgt Dillon. Of whom, I will tell a story some day. It involves the faux submachine gun which I mention in that previous link. But not today.)
So, I'm sitting in class. Confident that my new nom de guerre is known only at my squadron and not at the school. SSgt Ames said something which I thought required a funny rejoinder. So I made some remark, the class laughed, SSgt Ames turned to me and deadpan, said...
"That'll be enough out of you. Bambi."
Oh shit, oh dear.
The class laughed their asses off. I sat there, wanting to protest, wanting to scream my rage at the heavens but, knowing it would be futile, held my water. So to speak.
Fortunately that nickname didn't follow me to Okinawa. I think. (I'm sure Russ will correct me in the comments if I misspoke here. Guy has an amazing memory for a geezer.)
No, on Okinawa I received a new sobriquet.
One day, while driving down the flightline, riding in the back of the line truck (a thing you can read about here) heading for the jet. For to maintain the Weapon Control System and protect the American way of life. Mom and apple pie, cue John Philip Sousa.
Ahem, digression... Sorry.
Line truck, bunch of WCS troops with toolboxes, aircraft write-ups to fix on a fine Okinawan day (which means it was either blistering hot or pouring rain or both), rolling down the flightline. Young Airman First Class Moi sitting with my mates, laughing at some witty remark made by someone.
Truck, driven by one TSgt Mike Brown (though he may have been a SSgt at the time, he was promoted before he left Okinawa) rolls to a stop next to an allegedly broken jet. (I say allegedly because from time to time our valiant warriors of the air would only think something was broken. When in actuality they were just doing it wrong. Like the time one bright young First Lieutenant of a WSO wrote up the radar for "won't transmit in the O.F.F. mode" - I kid you not. Even his pilot laughed at that one.)
TSgt Brown pulls to a stop and says "Here's your bird Chuckles and somebody-else-whose-name-I-forget." The guy whose name I forget jumps off the truck and looks back at me, expectantly. I knew I was working with that guy today, who was this Chuckles guy...
Yup, Mike tagged me with the nickname "Chuckles". Hell, the entire squadron was calling me that by the end of the week. I found it slightly annoying. But it could have been worse, far worse. I remember some of the other nicknames Mike had bestowed on people. I was content to answer to "Chuckles." What the hell, it fit.
Then, as now, it didn't take much to make me laugh.
Thanks for the memory Russ.
Now stop that.