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.


 
 

 

CLEP speeds off-duty education

Education is important in order to succeed in life, especially for military members, and going to school while being in the military can cause additional stress for any Airmen looking to obtain a degree. There is help with the College-Level Examination Program, or CLEP, that can help to alleviate some of that stress. The CLEP...
 
 

Air Force News – December 19, 2014

Hawaii U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army members from the 613th Air Operations Center collaborated with members from the Japan Air Self Defense Force Dec. 8 through 13 on exercise Yama Sakura 67, the largest U.S. Army annual bilateral exercise in Asia-Pacific region. Washington D.C. About 40 living World War II members, their relatives, and...
 
 

People First – December 19, 2014

Officials announce no FY15 force management Air Force officials announced there is no longer a need to conduct involuntary force management programs for fiscal year 2015 following a year of significant reductions designed to meet the Defense Department strategic and budgetary guidance. Officials confirmed that fiscal year 2014 goals were achieved to size and shape...
 

 
Senior Airman 
GRACE LEE

Latest F-35 has fastest induction to ALIS

Senior AirmanGRACE LEE The 14th F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter to arrive at Luke Air Force Base is shown Dec. 5 on the flightline. Airmen at the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit worked quickly to get the aircraft ready to...
 
 

New tool to safeguard PII

The Digital Signature Enforcement tool integrated Air Force-wide Dec. 5, providing Microsoft Outlook users with automated assistance to ensure security of personally identifiable information. DSET is a short-term fix to help Air Force network users protect PII included in emails. “There isn’t any new PII change,” said Maj. Raymond Chester, 56th Communications Squadron commander. “The...
 
 

Air Force News – December 12, 2014

Texas Twenty-nine officers from various Air Force career fields have been selected for Air Education and Training Command training and recruiting squadron command, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced Dec. 5. Colorado As the Air Force continues to upgrade its most recognizable space constellation in Schriever Air Force Base, a small team is busy testing...
 




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