Air Force

December 6, 2013

Call signs represent more than name

Tags:
Staff Sgt. LUTHER MITCHELL Jr.
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Then Capt. Sean “LOBO” Canfield, now a major and the 62nd Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations, smiles in February 2002 at Nellis Air Force Base after performing a re-enlistment ceremony for his brother, Staff Sgt. Clark Canfield. Sean Canfield’s call sign was the result of an incident with his dogs and his lack of experience shooting an F-16 gun. The word lobo is Spanish for wolf, and to give double meaning to his call sign it was made into an acronym that stands for “leery of bullets ordnance.” The purple undershirt seen in the photo was authorized at the time of this photo.

Maybe the most familiar call signs known to the movie-going public are “Maverick,” “Iceman” and “Goose,” call signs for pilots in the movie “Top Gun.” And just like in the movies, fighter pilots in real life have call signs, too.

The origin of pilot call signs is mysterious, but how pilots get their call signs and their often-humbling nature is no mystery.

Some people say call signs began during World War I. Others say the custom began before that.

“There are a lot of myths out there,” said Maj. Sean Canfield, 62nd Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. “The most common story I hear is during WWI pilots would arrive in their new squadron, bond with other pilots and they would go on a mission and never come back. You give them a call sign or a nickname and that’s how you know them.”

However it began, the nicknames pilots are given by their peers are proudly worn on their flight suits and stenciled on their aircraft.

Pilots usually get a call sign after finishing mission qualification training and after being on-station at their first duty assignment for three months.

“We give call signs to B-coursers, but they’re temporary,” Canfield said. “When they go to their combat unit, they get their permanent name.”

There are rules to receiving names. Some considerations: Has a pilot dropped bombs in war? Has he been in more than two commands?

Depending on the answers, a pilot may keep a call sign throughout a career.

“There are some bone-headed things you can do to be ‘hostilely’ renamed, but it is usually only temporary,” Canfield said.

If two pilots arrive at a new squadron with the same call sign, seniority usually takes precedence.

Squadron pilots gather together in a “naming ceremony” to bestow call signs, and pilots share tales about those being given monikers.

“Everyone tells stories about you, and they’re usually not flattering,” Canfield said. “Names get written down, we make fun of them and the pilot sits there and takes the beating. Then we go through a vote, and the top three are presented to the one being named to pick.”

Unbeknownst to the candidate, however, the name is usually already decided for them.

Canfield received his call sign, “LOBO,” shortly after he arrived at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The meaning of his call sign is two-fold and combines two interesting events in his life.

Canfield was walking his two German shepherds one day and decided to take them off the leash to play Frisbee. An Airman ran by and his dogs chased the Airman. News of this event spread across his squadron.

“This was my third day in the squadron, and I’m calling my commander from the police shack saying, ‘Hey, I’m in trouble here; my dogs attacked a guy.’ That led to rabid dogs, wolf dogs and it became part of my name.”

The other part of Canfield’s call sign came from his lack of experience shooting the F-16 gun at the time.

“When I went to shoot the gun on the range with my new squadron, I didn’t do very well,” he said.
These two events merged into Canfield’s new call sign.

“They made a play on my name,” Canfield said. “Lobo, which is Spanish for wolf, and LOBO, which means, ‘leery of bullets ordnance.’”

For pilots, being given a call sign is a memorable thing, according to Capt. Marcus Landrum, 62nd FS instructor pilot.

“It keeps them humble and builds camaraderie and kinship,” he said. “It means being part of a brotherhood. It means you are a mission-ready fighter pilot, and it defines you as that fighter pilot.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Fly, fight & win! Luke plays unique role in AF mission

The mission of the Air Force is to fly, fight and win. The Air Force’s “motto,” as it was originally called, was adopted October 2010. Capt. Gregroy Bollrud of Hurlburt Field Florida, wrote, “It succinctly captures what our Air Force has been renowned for ever since its creation in 1947. Also, the specific choice of...
 
 

Wingman for life

“I look after my wingman. He looks after me. We work together. We fight together.” — Col. Gabby Gabriski, WWII ace Having a wingman has been an essential part of combat flying since the beginning. A wingman is able to watch your “6,” provide support and can offer a different perspective on a situation. These...
 

 
141119-F-HT977-165

Chiefs announced

Senior master sergeants selected for promotion to chief master sergeant at Luke Air Force Base posed in front of the static F-16 Fighting Falcon in front of the wing headquarters building. They are, from left, Kelbey Norton, 56...
 
 

Enlisted promotion system changes continue

WASHINGTON — This January, changes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System will continue with adjustments to the scoring model for promotions to technical sergeant and below, all designed to help ensure job performance is the most important factor when evaluating and identifying Airmen for promotion. The current WAPS enlisted performance report calculation model for technical...
 
 

News Briefs November 21, 2014

Kachina Gate closure The Kachina Gate will be closed to inbound traffic Dec. 8 through 19 for gas valve repair. Outbound traffic will not be affected. For more information, call 623-856-7051. Kids cooking class Kids Kamp Cooking Class is 4 to 6 p.m. for ages 8 to 12 and 7 to 9 p.m. for ages...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin