Naval Aviation Call Sign Protocol

| February 17, 2020

For our Nautically Challenged brothers and sisters, Black Shoes, and assorted Navy and Marine ground-pounders, a Navy and Marine’s flyers call sign is a very serious matter and not assigned lightly. It can take days to reach agreement, from the Aircrew Shop, the Chief’s Goat Locker, and the “O” Ward Room. There may be alcohol involved. Much thought goes into the process, but there are two very basic rules.

1) You don’t get to pick it.
2) If you hate it, more the better.

Case in point, my Aircraft Coordinator, a shit-hot LCDR (and one of my former Project Officers) earned the moniker “Bubbles.” There’s a story in there I’ll buy the beer to hear.

Also, my current Project Officer, a very sharp LT had “Jingles” hung on him. Again, decorum prevents me from asking the particulars without some social lubrication involved. He’s such a straight arrow I don’t know if he even imbibes.

I was graced with two, “Majic” a play on my last name and uncanny ability to find Soviet submarines, and “Obi Wan” from my days teaching AW puppies at the schoolhouse. I got off light.

Why bring this up? On a previous post our own Slow Joe tried  to stick “Troll Slayer” on me.

While I’m not adverse to the name, it has not gone through the proper Navy call sign protocol in my mind.

So thanks Slow Joe, appreciate the thought, but an aside on a board comment does not a call sign make.

Thanks for playing.

Category: Navy

Comments (45)

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  1. Thunderstixx says:

    Obi Wan works great !!!

  2. Jay in TN says:

    Ok, why does the Navy put goats in a locker? And is this common on all ships?

    • AW1Ed says:

      The Chief Petty Officer’s quarters has been known as “The Goat Locker” for about as long as there have been Navy CPOs. Quite an honor to be invited in for dinner, as the best chow on the ship is served there. Go figure.
      Want to know more, ask a Chief. You’ll either be told where to go and what to do when you get there, or be invited in, never to be seen again.
      Your choice.

    • Hondo says:

      Ok, why does the Navy put goats in a locker? And is this common on all ships?

      Because after a few weeks at sea, the four-legged kind wouldn’t be safe if allowed to run loose. And ship’s Captains probably would draw the line at inter-species marriages. (smile)

      • Roh-Dog says:

        That was my theory!

        • AW1Ed says:

          Yeah, very funny doggies. Think about it next time you’re camping out in a hole in the ground eating the MRE dujour, while the Chiefs are having T-Bones done to order with hand cut french fries.
          At a clean table.
          With silver ware.
          And wait staff.

          • Hondo says:

            Hey, I refrained from any mention of “Naval tradition” and Sir Winston’s commentary on same. Sheesh, what more do you want – mermaids? (smile)

            • AW1Ed says:

              We all know Winnie’s famous quote. As The First Lord of the Admiralty, he may have had first hand experience.
              Especially the rum part.

              • Hondo says:

                I’ve read that brandy was Churchill’s beverage of choice, at least in later years. But yeah, I’d guess he had experience with rum as well – along with gin, whiskey, rye, Scotch, and most anything else distilled and readily available in England during his lifetime. (smile)

      • thebesig says:

        I know you’re taking a jab. :mrgreen: Actual experience? Depart the east coast… Two weeks – three weeks later, having sex with European women. :mrgreen:

        Two deployments that I did with the Navy were “booze cruises”. Did exercises with the host nation’s military. Pulled into port, boozed up, had sex with European women, depart port, do exercise with other nation’s navy, pulled into port, get boozed up, have sex with European women, repeat cycle. The other deployment that was like this was the one to South America, circumnavigating the continent. Replace “European women” with “European descent women”. :mrgreen:

        • AW1Ed says:

          Every single married member of my flight crew on my first P-3 tour wound up divorced. A couple, twice.

          Except for MrsAW1 and myself.

  3. USAFRetired says:

    Your Delta Tau Chi name is Trollslayer

    One of my college roommates became an NFO and retired as an O-6, apparently his callsign was Jizz. I don’t even want to know how he got that.

  4. Hack Stone says:

    Call signs are a great way to build camaraderie among the team. At the proud but humble woman owned business that sells software to the federal government, we even assigned a call sign to the Vice President of the company. His call sign is Spandex King.

  5. 5th/77th FA says:

    Can always be worse. Could always be hung with the name of a breakfast cereal ala the NASA Astro double naught Howard Wolowitz. Slow Joe was just trying to do a little buttering up, he just didn’t follow the protocol.

    Is that why Mick has to go all Maverick over a certain motion picture about Naval Aviation? Asking for a Nautically Challenged friend. Avast, ahoy, and away boarders ya land lubbers.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Mick, and really anyone with actual Navy/Marine
      flying experience, has little but contempt for Cruise and his movie. I find it more of a comedy; Mick sees it, I think, as a personal insult.

      The few scenes in The Hunt for Red October that involve aviation are bogus as shit as well. Along with quite a lot of the rest of the movie.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        ^word^ Feelz the same on both. Never watched Mick’s “favorite” /s/ all the way thru, prolly not more than 20 minutes of it total. Have never had any use at all for the sawed off POS. Red October was a fairly good read, once I got into it, but yeah, that motion picture was another one where they paid no attention at all to the technical advisors. Gonna make a wild ass guess that the tech advisor on the TG pic didn’t get listened to either.

  6. Bubblehead Ray says:

    I worked with a Dr who had served as a flight officer in the Navy. His last name was “Bell”. The subject of call signs came up one day, and I laughed and asked him if they had called him “Liberty”. He smiled and said “ No, my call sign was “Tinker”.

  7. sj says:

    Met a hammer female AF fighter pilot at Nellis whose call sign was “Mounds”. Seeing her in a flight suit I thought I could understand why. El wrongo I was informed by a squadron mate: Almond Joys have nuts…Mounds do not.

    • USAFRetired says:

      I know of the lady of whom you speak and made the same mistake you did as the origination of her name. Mounds Don’t

  8. Jay says:

    My old SupO was a “fallen angel” out of flight school. His call sign during training was “Tipper”. It involved the tip of a water bottle and a bodily orifice….and i’ll leave it at that….

  9. FuzeVT says:

    I knew a Forward Air Controller at 1/6 whose callsign was BEVO. The explanation was easy – he went to Texas A&M.

    When I went to Iraq as an IA I ended up as an Infantry Platoon Commander (oddly enough right after being lat-moved from arty to communications – odd times in the USMC in 2004). We were picking callsigns for platoons and battalion personnel at the time and many went for something they thought sounded bad-ass like “Death Dealer”. 🙁 Anyway, I had a provisionallized platoon of mortar and javelin grunts with some straight leg guys thrown in for good measure. I, on the other hand, was a NBC guy, turned artillery officer turned commo playing the part of an infantry platoon commander. Made sense our platoon callsign became “Mongrel”.

  10. Slow Joe says:

    I say Troll Slayer sounds good.

    But maybe we can all come out with something far nastier.

    And something you hate!

    • Hack Stone says:

      Damn shame that someone already has Cheese Slayer.

    • thebesig says:

      More like “troll blocker”. The troll keeps coming in, gets stuck in the “needs moderation folder”, then gets transferred to the trash.

      He left an extremely funny rant that had us cracking up. I was even laughing the next day at the thought that he busted all those blood vessels typing all that stuff up, burnt time posting that, just to have it transferred to the trash can in less than a second.

      • AW1Ed says:

        Oh I have that one salted away. It may show up, stripped of its owner’s information, on a WOT or something.

        It’s just too F’n funny to toss away and not share with he class.

  11. Ret_25X says:

    there are some great call signs and team names out there….

    I think the best I ever ran into was “tainter”…I don’t even want to know…

    Life is easier when your callsign is created by tradition like “Global 7” or “Ready 9″…

    • The Other Whitey says:

      I read somewhere that Ewan McGregor’s brother is/was an RAF pilot, and that ever since McGregor played young Obi-Wan in the Star Wars prequels, his brother’s call sign has been “Obi-Two.”

  12. MustangCryppie says:

    I have two flight tours in P3/EP3s and I never heard one person use a call sign. What the hey?

    Just figured it must be a fighter jock thing. Guess not.

    Then again maybe as black shoe aircrew I wasn’t deemed worthy.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      I guess the closest I ever got to a call sign was when some guys who worked for me gave me a patch with “Sage” embroidered on it.

      PACFLT aircrew knows what that is. LANTFLT version is “Jacks.”

    • OWB says:

      Me neither. Seems like every radio I ever used came with its own designator based upon tail number, office symbol, duty function, or something similar no matter who had the radio in hand.

      Oh, well. If it helps, I did have a few nicknames that were commonly used, one of which is still in use years after retirement.

  13. Mick says:

    When I got to my first FMF tactical squadron, there were still quite a few guys around who had flown in Vietnam. As such, the bestowal of callsigns could be particularly brutal, as well as hilarious.

    Back in those days, an FNG’s callsign was typically based upon an unusual personal physical characteristic/deformity, doing something really stupid in flight, or doing something really stupid (often involving alcohol) in a public venue that was witnessed by other squadron members.

    Good times.

  14. aGrimm says:

    In Nam with the Marines, I discovered that there were unauthorized BS channels at the top of the frequencies on our PRC radio. Being unauthorized, everyone chose a handle to avoid getting busted. It was amazing how we could figure out who the other person was. Being a doc, I chose something gross as my handle: after birth. Two of my buddies I previously served with on Guam figured out who I was and we met up at the PX in Danang.

  15. Zulu02 says:

    AS a 1LT my handle became “Moses” because I did not get lost in the woods. In Korea we had an LT whose handle was “yobosayo” Enough said.

    • USAFRetired says:

      Thirty five years ago we got a new Second Lt in at Osan. On his first sojourn into Songtan (December) he accompanied a young damsel to her dwelling for some cultural exchange when she got off work. Rather than spend the whole night he decided to return to the Base. Upon exiting her abode he couldn’t find his shoes so he walked back to the gate (after getting lost) in his sock feet.

      The young airman on the gate popped him a proper salute and questioned him “Rough night Lieutenant” Needless to say his callsign be came ‘Shoeless’

  16. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    These aren’t the trolls were looking for, they can go about their business….

  17. ByrdMan says:

    Knew of a young pilot in Meridian, MS that received the moniker “Babycakes”

  18. SFC D says:

    The late, great Neptunus Lex wrote a piece on callsigns years ago, it seems fitting to include it here.

    Guinness, for strength.

  19. I have nothing to comment about Aviation call signs since I was an A Gang snipe who didn’t have to have a fresh air chit in my pocket to show a non snipe on demand of what I was doing above the second deck since our engine repair and AC filter cleaning shops were located on the forward hanger bay in air dale country.

  20. AO2(NAC) says:


    There is a colorful story there as well, but for another time.

    Coulda been way way worse.

  21. Dennis - not chevy says:

    At one the USAF bases to which I was assigned, we had to change our call signs every few months lest the folks listening started putting faces to the names. So anyway, we had this 2Lt whose father was a Lt Gen. The 2Lt thought that gave him oodles of authority. He never stopped whining about how no one paid him the proper respect; mostly it was his fellow officers, we enlisted folks just avoided him. I tried to give him the call sign Dangerfield. He asked why, I told him in my best Rodney imitation it was because he got no respect. Only after falling out of his chair laughing did the Vice Commander veto the call sign.

  22. USAFRetired says:

    Has there been any kind of aviator in the last 30 years with the given name of James Jones who didn’t have the callsign REV?

    Or is there anyone with the surname of Wise or Smart that didn’t have the callsign NOTSO?

  23. Green Thumb says:

    “Two-Hole Slider”

    “Coming in hot!”

  24. Quartermaster says:

    Often call signs got stuck on someone quite quickly. If Carroll LaFon (Neptunus Lex) got his, “dyslexic,” because he had his wings over the right breast and his name plate over his left breast at his first op squadron meeting. It later got shortened to “Lex.”

  25. dc says:

    Troof. I was an AW, too. At HC-1 Rescue Swimmer School I was dubbed; Kid. Drove me nuts and I hated it. I still have a PI belt buckle with the call sign, pretty cool 35 years later.