|The SkywalkerSwartz Blog|
Thursday, September 25, 2003
First, a brief update on what's going on at dive school: We just started pierside dives, which involve going not too deep (maybe 25 feet at the most) along the pier, which is pretty cool ('cause we're doing simulated search/salvage/repair operations) but also a bit cold and murky (it's really muddy down there!). On a sad note, though, we lost yet another classmate: Brandon Flores, a really fun guy from San Diego, had a really bad migraine (part of his face went numb and all that), and unfortunately, migraines are an automatic "medical drop from training." So, with about one week left of easy stuff to go, the guy has to leave.
Anyhow, about this blog's title: "Hoo-yah" is the exclamation that all Navy Special Warfare (i.e. SEALs) and Special Operations (e.g. EOD) forces yell...and thus is our constant battle cry here at dive school. When we pass an instructor, we yell in greeting, "Hoo-yah, Instructor Chablinsky!" or whatever his name is. When given an order, we respond "Hoo-yah!" There was even a "Hoo-yah, America!" when they did a half-mast flag-raising ceremony for 9/11! "Hoo-yah" basically means pretty much anything--it's a greeting, affirmation, and indication of motivation. It even means "do you understand" and "I understand": "Now, I want you to do your in-water checks as soon as you reach the surface, hoo-yah?" "Hoo-yah!"
Now, I can't seem to track down where "hoo-yah" came from...there is one website that mentions several possible, but likely aprocryphal, origins, including that it is a transliteration of "yahoo" (before the Internet!). There was a very silly Military Times article about similar cheers in the other services (a second, shorter version is here). Apparently, there was a movement for the Air Force to start yelling "Air Power!" instead of their traditional "hoo-ah!", which they share with the Army. The Army has a tribute to "hooah" on their Infrantry page. You also might remember Al Pacino playing a blind retired Army guy in Scent of a Woman yelling the phrase.
The Marine Corps says "ooh-rah," which may sound similar at first, but I (and the bulk of the Corps) beg to differ: Being a dork, I was watching C-SPAN, where President Bush was giving yet another speech in front of a bizillion Army personnel (a popular photo op with this administration). The damn grunts kept interrupting him at every sentence with "hoo-ah!" Now, I don't mind making some noise to show one's motivation, but there can be too much of a good thing. And I also wouldn't necessarily call it a "good thing"--they were saying "hoo-ah" with a rising intonation, which made it sound almost like a question. "Hoo-ah?" It was about the same thing as the "hoo-rah, hoo-rah" at the end of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home/The Ants Go Marching One by One." Get it? Not very inspiring. When Marines say "ooh-rah," it's a meaty, gutteral war cry, with the emphasis on the (slightly higher toned) first syllable: OOH-rah! Moreover, not only the Military Times article but also Gunny "G" R.W. "Dick" Gaines' website (mirror is here) claim that "ooh-rah" originates from the Recon Marines, who used to spend a lot of time on submarines (yeah, submarines!), and that the exclamation is thus a corruption of the "a-RUU-gah!" of the diving klaxon. (You know what I'm talking about: in the old World War II movies, the captain yells, "Dive, dive!" and the klaxon goes off. Sadly, most modern subs have a much less cool electronic klaxon. Sounds courtesy of the DoD audio page.) Anyhow, unless you want to get beat on by a bunch of jarheads, don't suggest that "hooah" and "ooh-rah" are at all the same.
If anybody finds out where "hoo-yah" came from, let me know...it's sad that even the Military Times would neglect this great battle cry--one that Jesse Ventura used at the end of his gubanatorial inauguration speech!
Monday, September 22, 2003
Attention to Colors
Now, most of my civilian friends will look at this heading and think, "Aw, so Luke is paying attention to colors--how artistic! Are the leaves already changing color in Florida?" However, in military-speak, this means, roughly, "Stand at attention because they're raising the flag!"
The other day, our class was playing Ultimate (frisbee) with another class (actually the Basic Diving Officer class which includes fellow NROTC UC Berkeley alum Mike Bailey...), and generally having a fun time. It really wasn't all that different from any other Ultimate game I've played (...especially because usually I'm playing with people who don't know what they're doing, and we certainly didn't know what we were doing. What? You think I'm stupid enough to take on Hunt and the other SMUT-ers?) Anyway, totally normal game...until the trumpet starts playing Colors.
Suddenly, the entire field went silent, and we all stood at attention as the red, white, and blue made its way up the flagpole. It was a fleeting moment, but one that reminded me that we aren't just a bunch of 20-somethings (well, and a few 30-somethings, and one 40-something) playing a game, but that we have all pledged to defend the nation for which the flag stands. For all the Bush Administration's co-opting of the flag for "patriotism," I think for most military people, the flag will always be above party or partisanship...and I thought that was pretty special.
A kinda' sappy moment, brought to you by the letter E and the number 32.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Dive School Pool Week: Fun Under Pressure
Well, I haven't blogged for a while (a combination of little free time and not much Internet access), but we just finished the hardest two days of "Pool Week," the Dive School crucible that each student must pass in order to be a Navy Diver. Here are some off-the-cuff impressions/discriptions of the past few days:
Anyhow, that's a quick update from Florida...I'll try to write more here soon.