Fighter Jock Nicknames

If you visited a  fighter squadron, you would immediately feel that you were seeing an episode of M*A*S*H*; all the main characters had nicknames.

Captain John E. Norvell, Urdorn RTAFB, Thailand, 1973

Captain John E. Norvell, Urdorn RTAFB, Thailand, 1973

Some nicknames came from the background of the person involved. There was Captain “D Ring,” a name he gained while in training when he accidentally pulled the D Ring on a parachute while handling it.

Another captain, “The Blade,” had once pulled a knife when he was being hazed upon arrival at the squadron.

Still another was dubbed “Egg White” as his real name was Edward White.

Some nicknames were linked to a Fighter Jock’s carefully crafted persona.

Capt. “Joe Hollywood” always wore sunglasses, even indoors, and drove a Bentley, that he had picked up in Thailand, with two captain flags on the bumper, much as a General would have two “star flags” on his car to indicate his rank. It was a joke that shared by all on the base and he would often get a salute from pedestrians when he drove by.

The “Preacher,” had gone to a Bible College and spent a great deal of his time, when not flying, trying to convert the unwashed. It was a lost cause, but that didn’t stop him from having long, long, long debates with others on his views of religion and Christianity. He seemed only to attract those of a like mind, as a fighter squadron was not fertile grounds for proselytizing.

Two men were called “Whiskey Alpha” and “Whiskey Bravo” as they were always in the company of one another, much like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. The Alpha and Bravo were obvious, the Whiskey perhaps from a favored libation.

And then there was Capt Upp who’s nickname was — well you can imagine it.   Enough said on that.

Capt. “Chuckie” was not a well-liked person and that name was more or less a term of disdain.

You have to imagine it being said with a sneer on your face or as if you had eaten a lemon. He had a grating personality and implied both verbally and non verbally that he was somehow “better” than those around him. As the months passed and Chuckie frequented the local massage palors, he contracted four types of a common social disease. When the word got out in the Squadron, someone wrote on the duty board, “Let’s have A big Clap for Chuckie,” – the man had not solicited any sympathy from his peers for his behaviors both in the cockpit and extracurricular.

Chuckie was at one end of the spectrum as most nicknames were terms of endearment or respect for the recipient, such as the Preacher or Joe Hollywood or the Whiskey Twins.

Some men never had nicknames, either they were so bland that one never stuck or so uninvolved with their peers that no one cared. And that was the point, to have a nickname meant you had arrived.

And what of mine, I was short and built like a fire plug,  and well that’s a story for another time….

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About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in Air Force, F-4 Phantom II, Family History, Fighter Aircraft, Internet genealogy, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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