me pointing at the gift bags/boxes I organized for the S-2 Marines, Dec ’05, TQ Iraq
Discussions about my nicknames come up regularly enough that I decided it was time to write a blog or two about some of these monikers of mine 😉  Although I already have more than thirty nicknames, I always get a kick out of whatever new ones my friends manage to come up with.  For instance, since moving to Columbus, OH and joining the Jillaroos Australian Rules Football Team, I have since been dubbed: “Plums” (not a new one, but now used with more frequency than ever before J ), “Crack,” “Mario,” and “PP.”  Guys, chime in if I’m forgetting any!Here are the shortened versions of the stories behind some of the nick names I acquired on my first deployment to Iraq from 2005-2006.

1. Susie Q – This was the first new callsign lovingly bestowed upon me. Capt J took it upon himself to start calling me that almost immediately upon our arrival to Iraq.  When I finally inquired as to why he always called me that (I was afraid he meant it in a derogatory way), he explained, “I don’t know.  You’re just like….Susie Q….you’re just like a nice, Susie Q kinda girl.”  That was it, but the name stuck.  That’s all he ever called me the whole time we worked together.  Occasionally another officer would call me that, but it was mostly just Capt J’s name for me.
2. Pep Rally – (or “PR” for short) – this one emerged a couple months into the tour, while I was temporarily at Al Qa’im supporting surge operations. Capt F started this one, and it caught on amongst the whole squadron.  This was pretty much what I was called by all the officers for the remainder of my time at VMU-1.  According to him, I was so frequently in a good mood, often lifting the morale of the unit, that I rightfully earned the nickname.  I have to confess, though – I had selfish reasons (initially) for being so upbeat all the time.  I did it just to get my mind off of things, almost “tricking” myself into being happy while I was in Iraq…but soon enough, it became real, and in some ways I really was happy a lot of the time during that first deployment.  I tried to think of the other Marines more than I thought about myself. because otherwise you could get into a downworld spiral of unecessary self pity in a snap.  Plus, my friends and family were so amazing about sending care packages to me that I would often round up the “extra” stuff and make small care packages for some of the Marines that weren’t getting mail from home. And at Christmas, another officer and I made huge gift bags for all of the guys in our section with a combo of gifts from his parents, my friends and family, and stuff we personally bought.  I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel good.  So, was I literally happy ALL of the time?  Realistically, of course not…but I think Pep Rally emerged more from me being a goof ball than anything else. ;-p
3. Wonder Kid – another nickname I don’t entirely understand, and one I don’t feel I was particularly participatory in, but a name that stuck nonetheless.  Through our working relationship with a Cobra squadron, one of the new Lieutenants and I became friends.  We often commiserated about the deployment, missing family and friends, and general chatter via the secure instant messenger chat.  Through getting to know one another, he just called me Wonder Kid one day.  I asked him why and, aghast that I didn’t know the reference, explained an old cartoon about the Wonder Kids and said I was like one of those characters because I did a little bit of everything and always seemed to be getting into adventures.
4. Dusty AQ (shortened to just “Dusty”) – this is the only name that somewhat irritated me.  I also acquired this one in Al Qa’im, but I didn’t catch wind of it until I returned to TQ.  Apparently someone at the neighboring Cobra squadron (in AQ) took a picture of me one day when I was getting ready to go for a run.  I’m not sure how many of you have seen Marine Corps issue PT gear (aka: work out clothes) but the little green shorts are…well….little.  The story goes that whoever took the picture was trying to get a photo of the dust storm, not of me.  So, that begs the question, if he was really just getting a weather pic, why did he email it to my Squadron C.O. back in TQ????  Of course it was all a big joke.  Anyway, when I returned to our home base (TQ) everyone there snickered and called me “Dusty.”  I was completely confused.  Finally someone showed me the picture and explained the reference.  From then on, my C.O. called me that because he knew it made me mad.  Now it makes me laugh. J
then-SSgt Tataje & I discussing something by my desk…I’d like to draw your attention to the pumpkin on my desk covered in red tissue paper labled “Merry Christmas” and the mini Christmas tree.  As the date on the picutre indicates, it wasn’t even December yet, but I’d begun accumulating Christmas goodies in order to fully embrace the Pep Rally Christmas spirit 😉 It doesn’t look like much, but our CO used to get pissed when I’d put goodies on my desk…so it was kind of big deal that I had that stuff there at all.  Later I added Christmas chains and a tiny pooping reindeer among other items..hehe