Volume No. 17 Issue No. 10 October 2020  

  From soup to nuts
  Mark Stoller

     Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   It was kindly noted that my column last month was fraught with gloom and doom. This month, I will change it up with a more lighthearted topic –- military idioms.
   There is no doubt the military has a language all its own, and it prevails long after we’ve left our respective services.
   Sometimes, it’s the acronyms (aka alphabet soup) we use to describe new weapons, capabilities or projects. However, the informal phrases we used linger on in our speech patterns.
   For example, a group of us were on break and someone mentioned getting the details on a project from “soup to nuts.” One of our colleagues, who hasn’t served in the military, looked at the speaker strangely and asked, “What soup? What are you talking about?”
   With translation in mind, I thought I’d cover a few enduring military gems and other frequently used vernacular.
   From soup to nuts: It conveys the meaning of “from beginning to end.” It is intended to convey a full meal where numerous, individual courses progress from soup to a dessert of nuts. It originates from the Latin “ab ovo usque ad mala” translated "from the egg to the apples,” which describes the typical sequence of Roman meals.
   Goat rope: In the cleanest translation, it is a chaotic situation where too many, involved yet non-contributing, people impede progress. From 1970s Air Force, it used to refer to flight line operations where military brass felt it necessary to make their presence known and impede the normal duties/operations of the aircrew, offering unsolicited "advice" or “assistance.”
   Cup of Joe: When Josephus Daniels was appointed Secretary of the Navy in 1913, he abolished alcohol from being served aboard ships. From that time on, coffee was the strongest drink available to sailors; and eventually became the drink known as a “cup of Joe.”
   Murphy’s Law: “If there’s more than one way to do a job and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way,” said Capt. Edward A. Murphy to his assistant after testing a rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base in 1948. The exchange led to the common reference to Murphy’s Law.
   Run amok: aka go wild! This is an 18th and 19th centuries phrase from when European explorers to Malaysia learned of a Javanese and Malay warrior class called the Amuco. This group of fighters believed those who lost a battle and survived would be punished with dishonor and death. In turn, they fought with maniacal and frenzied tactics. Thus, to act with disregard for consequences is to “run amok.”
   Scuttlebutt: This term derives from the butt, or cask, that held drinking water on sailing ships. It was scuttled (i.e. tapped with a hole) so water could be drawn. In the same way that office workers gather around a water cooler, the scuttlebutt was where mariners would tell stories and gossip.
   Last, Got your Six: This term has its origins from World War I air-to-air combat. Of note, the military uses the clock face to inform each other on position/location. Twelve o'clock is straight ahead — 6 o'clock is behind you. The safest and most efficient position for a pilot to take a shot at an enemy plane was to fly in behind them. WWI pilots were the first to say, "I got your six.” A pilot’s wingman would fly in a way to keep watch so the enemy couldn’t fly behind for a shot. Today, this term still means I’ve got you covered to keep you safe.
   Now, go have a cup of Joe with a friend, get the scuttlebutt and let them know you have their six.
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