Monday, April 14, 2014

Bubbles and The Winnebago

A Winnebago, not the Winnebago
As many of you know, on the 9th of April I had the opportunity to spend a day at sea on the USS Ronald Reagan, CVN-76, America's Flagship.

Now I've ridden a carrier before so it wasn't all that new, but it was different. The first time was with The Nuke, who (being part of ship's company) knew lots of stuff about the ship itself. But, as she belonged to the Reactor Department, she spent a lot of time actually on duty during that cruise. So we spent a bit of time on our own (The Missus Herself was also along). Mostly sleeping in The Nuke's stateroom.

Now this time I went as a guest of The WSO, who is most certainly not part of ship's company but is a member of "CAG 2", Reagan's Air Wing. Specifically she is a member of the finest squadron in the entire United States Navy, VFA-2, the Bounty Hunters, callsign Bullet. (Not that I'm prejudiced mind you, but Big Time - and others - may have a different viewpoint!)

Anyhoo. When we weren't up on the flight deck watching the (ahem) "exercise", nor on the hangar deck chowing down, we could be found in VFA-2's Ready Room hanging out with some of the Naval Aviators and Weapons Systems Officers of this fine squadron.

Now at sea with us were: Bubbles, BTM*, Lennie, Korndog and Bobo**. Bobo's buddy Heywood (or Sherwood, or Haystack, or something like that) was also there. Now I can't be positive but I'm pretty sure he's Navy. Probably an aviator, I'll present some evidence to support that shortly. (He had the "look" and "attitude" of an aviator, that's for sure.)

Those are all callsigns by the way, well except Heywood (or Driftwood, or Woodhaven, or something like that). The only one I needed to have explained to me was "Lennie". When I queried The WSO on that one, she said, think Steinbeck.

"Of Mice and Men", she said.

"Ah, wakarimasu", I said.

Now I first met Korndog at the patching ceremony I went to out at Lemoore last August. As a matter of fact, he was patched that day. But back then, he was known as "Tight Pants." No, I didn't ask why. I didn't want to know why. But as an FNG he did a fine job of keeping my beer mug filled.

A good man is Harry.

Two other members of VFA-2 I must mention are Frodo and Gandalf. Seriously.

Now Frodo is because the dude is really short. Gandalf came to the squadron at around the same time. Someone said that Frodo needed a friend. Hence, Gandalf. (FWIW, Gandalf is actually a female aviator. Go figure.)

You can't make this stuff up.

Now The WSO had told me about Bubbles before we went out to the boat. She said that he was looking forward to meeting me as he had an interest in old warbirds. Like the Phantom. She also told me that he looked like a "young Pete Townshend". I'll let you be the judge of that.

Damn! She may be on to something here...


Bubbles and I got along famously, turns out that before becoming a Naval Officer, he was a Sergeant, in the Army. We non-commissioned officers (current and former) have a way of getting along. Besides which, he is an insanely funny guy. Very cheerful too.

Can you guess how he got his callsign now?

"Bubbles" describes him well. It's also mildly insulting, so it's a perfect callsign.

So we're hanging out in the Ready Room, laughing it up as I listen to their lies sea stories. When Heywood (I think) says he needs to use the head. Bubbles tells him -

"Take a left out in the p-way. The Winnebago is down that way."

With a puzzled look on my face, I ask, "Winnebago?"

Yes, Bubbles explained, they call it the Winnebago because "one does not sh!t in the Winnebago" due to the poor ventilation in that species of RV. Sort of a "Prime Directive" for the Bullets.

Facsimile of The Winnebago

Now for some reason, this particular head on the Reagan has small holes in the bulkhead behind the stalls. Holes which vent directly into VFA-86's Ready Room. And the 'Winders would prefer that people not crap in that head. Seems they can't abide the smell. Who can blame them? So, the Bullets call that head, "The Winnebago."

Now shortly after Heywood (Woodhead?) left, we headed out as well. Our route to the flight deck led us right past the Winnebago. So I figured I would make use of that facility. As soon as I swung the door open to the Winnebago, it was obvious someone had violated the Prime Directive.

Yup, someone took a sh!t in the Winnebago.

So I cried foul. Then I heard a voice from inside the Winnebago, "It was an emergency!"

As I kind of laughed at that, the voice continued, "besides, this isn't MY boat."

Thinking back on it, I'm pretty sure it was Heywood (Hoe-down?). It sounded like him. And I was pretty sure he was Navy. I told him, "Just tell the Bullets you intentionally crapped in here. To mark your territory, or something."

We both got a chuckle out of that.

As we were mocking the Bullets (well, mostly he was), I thought "He knows this shtick far too well. He must be an aviator." Couldn't prove it one way or the other though.

Now later in the day, Bubbles said he had to use the head. I laughed and said, "Don't take too long or we'll accuse you of sh!tting in the Winnebago."

Well he was gone for quite some time. When he returned to the Ready Room, I kind of accused him of violating the Prime Directive.

He laughed and said, "Nah, I went over to the Taj Mahal."


Again, puzzled look.

Bubbles laughed and explained that there was this really fancy head which most people stayed away from (perhaps it "belongs" to the Admiral's staff). So it was always nice, clean and apparently very desirable. Therefore, "The Taj Mahal." The guys who normally use it were ashore that day. Not there to defend their fiefdom as it were. So fair game for Bubbles.

Apparently the Admiral's private head is also really, really nice. Even nicer than the Taj Mahal.

I think Bubbles has that one on his bucket list. His Holy Grail. As it were...

* BTM = uh, it stands for Big Tittie Mike. And yes his parents know what BTM stands for. His father finds it amusing, his Mom, not so much. I forget how he got BTM for a callsign. I was laughing too hard to pay attention. Best part is, his name is actually Matt, but people call him "Mike" because of the callsign. Annoys him it does. Again, a perfect callsign.

** I had originally had this as "Bubba", The WSO let me know that it's actually "Bobo". Corrections were made, those responsible have been sacked.


  1. Well, as a Wise American once told me, Callsigns were invented to keep Fighter Pilots humble.

    1. It's not working.

      I've never met a humble fighter pilot. Ever.

      Well played Juvat. Well played.

    2. I think "humble" is entirely relative, based upon the company one keeps. While we're on the subject...

      One of Winston Churchill’s most famous and funny quips concerned his political opponent Clement Attlee. Apparently interrupting a Churchill rant, a friend said, ‘But surely, Mr. Churchill, you admit that Mr. Attlee is a humble man?’ To which Churchill replied, ‘He is a humble man, but then he has much to be humble about!’

      I guess Attlee wasn't a fighter pilot.

  2. Callsigns are 'earned'... :-)


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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