(LIFE) NICKNAMES

By Byron (Jug) Varner

Most of us in the military get a nickname that sticks for the rest of our lives. I got mine during Navy primary flight training - winter of 1943 - not because I sipped the jug, but because I was shaped like one at times. Let me qualify “at times.”

We were flying the open cockpit, N2-S “Yellow Peril” in Hutchinson, KS, and it was c-c-cold up there in the blue (sometimes purple). The answer to our prayers was a temperature inversion to warm up the altitudes in which we flew, but that rarely occurred. So we wore bulky, brown leather fleece-lined flight suits to stay warm enough to fly, and face masks to protect against frostbite.

Waddling out to the flight line on the first day we bundled up in this gear, I carried my parachute under one arm and a pillow under the other. The aircraft's rudder pedals were not extendable and my short legs needed that back pillow to get my feet closer. Fellow cadets Leroy Dowden and George Springer were following close behind, and started laughing. “Varner,” Dowden hollered, “You look like a little brown jug.” Others joined in making fun of my comical look in that attire, and the name stuck.

Actually, I didn't like the name Byron when I was young. Almost everyone in Texas mispronounced it - even some in my own family. I got tired of hearing Bryan, Baron, Barn, Biren, Brine, etc., so I just used the initials B. D. in the Navy - until I became “Jug.”

Now that we are on a “first-name” basis, you can better understand the title of this feature. It contains the musings of this old three-war veteran who is trying valiantly to keep up with modern culture in the 21st Century, as well as news and features of interest to military oriented folks.