I was the Supervisor of Flying (SOF) one night as we were closing shop. There was just me, an airman and our squadron commander in the building at the time. The airman was busy with securing the area. I was looking over the schedule for the next day when I saw we needed a check pilot for a final progress check the next day. These rides were typically flown by either the squadron commander or the operations (ops) officer. So I called out to our squadron commander, “Say Col. R., do you want to fly this kid’s ride tomorrow, or would you like Grady to fly it?” Grady was our ops officer.
I don’t recall his reply, but shortly thereafter he called me into his office. “Bob, ” he began, “we really need to be cognizant about referring to senior officers by their first names,” he began. At first I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. He must have seen this reflected in my face, and went on, “You referred to Col. Hawkins as ‘Grady.’ And we have an airman in the building.”
“Oh shit,” I thought to myself. I was a major at the time; Grady was a Lt. Colonel. I apologized, and told him it wouldn’t happen again. He in turn, felt content that he had set my ass straight…
Now; we had another major in our squadron at the time, Craig W., who was well loved and deeply respected by all the ‘grunts.’ Craig was a Section Commander, and he had just been promoted to Lt. Colonel. It was just after this incident of mine that Craig “pinned on” his new rank. Soon thereafter we were all down in the Auger Inn one night.
The evening festivities were just beginning. Craig and I and a few captains were standing around when Lt. Col. R. (our squadron commander) walked up. On occasion he liked to allow his presence to be felt by “the guys.” Someone noticed we were getting down to “min beer,” and asked, “Who’s round is it to buy?”
Someone else shouted out, “It’s Butch’s turn!” and Craig headed toward the bar. “Yay Butch,” was the cry heard from our small group. It was a beautiful setup!
“Why are the guys calling Craig, ‘Butch?'” asked Col. R.
“Because,” I replied, “it’s not his first name, Sir…”
The resulting confused look was priceless; I don’t know if he ever got it…