NAMES FROM THE PAST
.
Many guys in SF had nicknames. Many radio operators were
nicknamed “Sparky” or “Sparks” and most of the medics were
naturally nicknamed “Doc.”  Some other nicknames were:

Richard Shorten was nicknamed Bear because of the way he
fought.  Bear tended to maul an opponent instead of boxing
him.

Snuffy Smith was called snuffy because his physical
appearance and morals reminded you of the cartoon character.

Stick Evans earned his nickname the hard way.  “A husband
came home unexpected and walked in on Stick and his wife in
the bed and he picked up a handy mop or broom and commenced
to beat Stick severely about the head and shoulders until he
put Stick in the hospital.”

Harold “Catfish” Dreblow was nicknamed Catfish because he
would eat anything, but he wasn’t the only Catfish.  SF had
lots of those.

Larry “The Cook” Dickinson was nicknamed The Cook because he
was always cooking something and it usually tasted pretty
good, but you soon learned not to ask too many questions
about the recipe.  If you were having some yummy pinto beans
and felt a lump while stirring them, you might dip out a
Snicker’s bar or two.  At least one bar would still be in
its wrapper.

Jim “One Ear” Powers lost one ear when an angry husband bit
it off during a fight after he caught Jim in bed with his
wife.  At least that’s what the late Pete Garner told me.

Railroad Smith used a tad too much demolition to destroy a
railroad track during training.  A piece of track almost
went into orbit.

Whispering Smith had a naturally weak voice and always spoke
in a whisper.

John “One Eye” Riley had a glass eye in place of the one
that he lost in Vietnam when the tip of a tiny antenna on an
airplane wing plucked it out for him.  One Eye Riley was a
black-haired, chunky-built irishman from New York City.  I
reckon John stood about 5’ 8” tall and he had a habit of
sometimes dropping his glass eye in his drink when he went
to the latrine so no one would steal a drink from it.  John
had one glass eye that matched his good eye and one that had
a USA flag where the iris should have been.

One day One Eye, who was as drunk as a skunk at the time,
drove into the Dixie Drive-in Restaurant in Spring Lake,
North Carolina, which was located just outside Fort Bragg.
Unwittingly, One Eye put the gear into “Neutral” instead of
“Park” then passed out over the steering wheel and his car
rolled back out into the middle of Bragg Boulevard.  One Eye
didn’t even realize that he was sitting broadside in the
middle of the six-lane highway.  A highway patrolman arrived
on the scene.  The state trooper walked up to the car and
tapped on the window.  One Eye finally awoke, rolled down
his window and said, “Two cheeseburgers and fries to go.”
Needless to say, One Eye didn’t get what he ordered and he
didn’t drive anymore that night either.  [How he did it I
don’t know, but Old One Eye made it to retirement and
returned to New York.  Rumor has it that One Eye died in
1995, but I do not recall learning what killed him.]

John “Wild Dude” Wicker was nicknamed Wild Dude by Max Recod
while they were on a field training exercise in Okinawa when
Max saw Dude swinging on a limb high in a tree and making
monkey-like noises.  Wild Dude was just an average size guy
who was a karate freak or “Jap Slapper” as some of the guys
called karate students.  Wild Dude studied karate while he
was stationed on Okinawa and became a black belt.  Dude was
a real character who forever courted disfavor with his
superiors, but his fellow enlisted men liked to have Wild
Dude around, especially when the pollution hit the rotary
blades.

One night on Oki when Wild Dude was downtown some local
Okinawan street punks slipped up behind him and hit him
across the back with a plank.  Wild Dude leaped straight up,
spun around, landed in a fighting stance and yelled, “Thank
God, I didn’t think anybody was going to fuck with me
tonight.”   With that, Wild Dude charged his assailants, who
immediately fled the scene.

On another occasion while downtown in Okinawa, Wild Dude
unknowingly entered a bar where off duty MPs hung out.  Of
course he promptly got involved in an altercation with a
couple of off duty MPs who were wearing civvies.  MPs did
not allow any other soldiers to visit the bar that they
picked as their hangout and they had told Wild Dude to
leave, “This is our bar.”  Naturally that’s when the
disagreement began.  A horde of off duty MPs poured out of
the bar and began to chase Wild Dude after he had punched
their two buddies silly.  Wild Dude managed to lose them and
he stopped at a pay phone and called the MPs to report that
a bunch of idiots were chasing him.

After that every MP on Oki, whether they were on duty or off
duty, knew exactly where to find Wild Dude and they
descended upon him like a cloud of locusts.  Wild Dude was
badly beaten physically, but not in spirit.  After Wild Dude
was subdued and handcuffed, the uniformed MPs beat his back,
buttocks and legs with their batons.  When they finally
stopped, Wild Dude told them, “Boys that’s the best damn
massage I’ve had in years.”  They gave him another one.

[If you want to locate the majority of the worst criminals
in the army, it is my opinion that you need look no farther
than the members of the Military Police and Criminal
Investigation units.  Trust me on that one.]

Once while on patrol with a SOG recon team in Vietnam, Wild
Dude’s team had to be extracted by McGuire Rig while under
fire.  Wild Dude did pull ups on his rope all the way back
to base camp.  When they finally arrived at base camp,
everyone was worn out from the emotional stress of dangling
from one thin climbing rope beneath a chopper for so long,
everyone that is except Wild Dude.  Wild Dude went skipping
off to operations whistling and joking with his buddies.
[Somehow, Wild Dude managed to last long enough to retire as
a master sergeant.  That in itself is a complete mystery to
me.  Anyway, the last I knew about Wild Dude, he lived in
Fayetteville where he owned and operated a Karate Dojo and
helped out part-time at the SF Assessment and Selection
course at Camp MacKall.]

Don "Val"  Valentine

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