I spent 11 years in the Navy, and moreso than any other group I’ve been associated with, sailors seem to love giving each other nicknames. Aviators, of course, have their callsigns (like Maverick and Ice Man from Top Gun) and sometimes the nicks have to do with their jobs (like the electrician called “Sparks”) or maybe where they’re from (Tex.)
Well, my nick was none of those. I got mine from Pete (whose real name was Terry) - he gave nicknames to a bunch of us in the avionics shop. For example, Grant was called Stoney, because, as Pete said, “He looks like a Stoney.”
Can’t argue with that, I guess.
My friend Val was called Susie, short for Susie Homemaker because one day, as part of our usual preflight routine, she was running the vacuum cleaner in the avionics bay to minimize dust that could clog the cooling fans. Safety required that techs wear hearing protection (Mickey Mouse ears) because between the noise of the power generator and the vacuum cleaner in the confined cabin, it could do some damage.
So while Val was in there happily cleaning (the planes were pretty clean anyway, since we had to do this daily), Ray came into the plane, and switched off the vacuum. Meanwhile, Val coildn’t hear a thing, and she continued to move the hose along the corners of the avionics bay. She turned around to see Ray who had a big ol’ shit-eatin’ grin as he reached down and turned the vacuum back on. Naturally, he ran back to the shop to tell everyone, including Pete, who gave Val her new name.
One night (I worked mids for a year), I was assigned to Pete’s crew and we were troubleshooting a particularly annoying system. All of the easy tricks, like swapping out known good parts for suspected bad ones, not only didn’t work, but the problems kept changing. I said, two or three times, “Why don’t we swap out the power supply?” only to be told that the power supplies almost never went bad. But we ran out of things to try, and wouldn’t you know, it turned out to be a bad power supply.
Back in the shop, Pete was telling the Chief what we’d done and how we’d finally fixed it. He even gave me credit by saying “And Fred here figured it out!”
*Fred?? *Girly parts aside, there was nothing in any of my names that even remotely resembled Fred, but Pete completely blanked on my name that night and the first thing he came up with was Fred.
That was to be my nickname for 2 years till I transferred out of that squadron. I’ve got a Disneylad mug that says Fred. I rather liked the nick.
As an aside, this all happened at least 5 years before women were assigned to ships. Pete paid me the ultimate compliment saying he wouldn’t mind going to sea with me. No he wasn’t flirting - he was actually impressed with my mad electronics skillz!
So that’s my story. Did anyone ever give you a nickname? Did you like it? Hate it? Ignore it? Please share.