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  Astronauts' and other space workers nicknames (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Astronauts' and other space workers nicknames
HAL9000
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posted 01-26-2005 04:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HAL9000   Click Here to Email HAL9000     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For quite a while now, I've been wondering about the origins of three astronauts' nicknames, and unfortunately, I wasn't able to find information about this anywhere.

Most astronauts of the Mercury through Apollo era had nicknames whose origins is mostly quite obvious, as they were short forms of the first names (i.e. "Jim" Lovell).
And in the case of "Buzz" Aldrin, I found it explained in "A Aan on the Moon" by Andrew Chaikin -- "Buzz" came from a childhood nickname his sister gave him.

But there are three astronauts for whom I never found any information:

  • Charles Conrad Jr.'s "Pete"
  • Virgil Ivan Grissom's "Gus"
  • Harrison Hagan Schmitt's "Jack"
Does anybody here know where these nicknames came from?

skippy in space
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posted 01-26-2005 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for skippy in space   Click Here to Email skippy in space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And why was it Jim "Shakey" Lovell?

Steve Procter
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posted 01-26-2005 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Procter   Click Here to Email Steve Procter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jim Lovell was named 'Shaky' by Pete Conrad as a joke as it would be the last thing a test pilot would want to be known as.

Tod
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posted 01-26-2005 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tod   Click Here to Email Tod     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgil Grissom became Gus when an acquaintance mis-read a tally sheet during a card game. He thought "Gris" was "Gus." The nickname stuck.

DavidH
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posted 01-26-2005 11:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Conrad's middle name was "Peter," thus, Pete.

carmelo
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posted 01-26-2005 11:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Young was 'Mister Cool', right?

icarkie
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posted 01-26-2005 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for icarkie   Click Here to Email icarkie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe Mercury astronaut Donald Kent Slayton got his name 'Deke' from his abbreviated initials D K. This was given to him in his Air force days.

HAL9000
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posted 01-26-2005 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HAL9000   Click Here to Email HAL9000     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's quite interesting...

I didn't know so far that Conrad really had "Peter" as his middle name.

In quite every publication I've read on the Mercury through Apollo era so far in which all names of all astronauts are listed, that particular information is missing - including, for example, Chaikin's "A Man on the Moon", which seems to be very precise overall, and Conrad's biography on the JSC website.

Although Conrad's nickname "Pete" is very common, it seems it's a very hardly known fact that this was really his middle name... strange!

Thanks for the info on Gus Grissom, too; does anybody also know why Harrison Schmitt was called "Jack"?

ColinBurgess
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posted 01-26-2005 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Conrad's mother wanted him named Pete, but in the end his father's wishes prevailed and he was named after him. But then his mother just kept calling him Pete, as did all his friends, and it stuck.

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-26-2005 07:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Buzz Aldrin got his name because his sister said "brother" as "buzzer" when she was a toddler.

dss65
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posted 01-26-2005 10:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As I recall, one of Schmitt's earlier nicknames was "Bull"... (I didn't make that up.) I'll bet everybody who came up with one of those thought they were the first. Take it from a guy whose last name rhymes with "sperm."

HAL9000
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posted 01-27-2005 06:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HAL9000   Click Here to Email HAL9000     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to everybody for answering my question. A lot of things are now clearer to me.

Colin, thanks for your explanation - but was "Pete" or "Peter" his real, legal middle name - or was it "just" a nick his mother called him?

ColinBurgess
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posted 01-27-2005 07:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think Conrad had the middle name of Peter, despite what some NASA site says. Peter is the name his mother wanted to give him, but she was over-ruled by her husband. And Peter is generally abbreviated to Pete.

bruce
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posted 01-27-2005 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wally Schirra's nickname amongst close friends and astronauts is "Skyray". I am told by a very reliable person in the know that this nickname came about as a result of a ceremony for the Mercury 7 that was also being televised at the time. Apparently, as the MC went down the line announcing the guys' names, as he got to "Wally Schirra", either he couldn't read the writing very well, or it was misspelled. When he got to Wally's name, he hesitated for a moment and then said "Walter Marty ... uh ... Sky...ray", which drew a big laugh from the otherwise composed Mercury guys, especially Al Shepard, whom I told almost wet himself!

Anyway, the name has stuck after all these years and is still used by those within their unique fraternity.

DavidH
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posted 01-27-2005 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mea culpa. I got some bad information off the internet. How embarrassing.

After checking with a very reliable source, I would tend to agree with Colin's take: Conrad had no middle name, but was unofficially dubbed Peter by his mother.

Sy Liebergot
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posted 01-27-2005 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sy Liebergot   Click Here to Email Sy Liebergot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bruce:
Wally Schirra's nickname amongst close friends and astronauts is "Skyray".
Bruce, you are correct -- check the anecdote on page 130 of my book. Al Bean was my source.

heng44
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posted 01-28-2005 01:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Concerning middle names: I always thought that Frank Borman did not have a middle name, like Charles Conrad and Michael Collins. In all NASA biographies it is just Frank Borman. But in his book "Countdown" Borman says his name is Frank Frederick Borman II.

MSS
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posted 01-28-2005 02:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MSS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, read at my web page: F. F. Borman II

As for Conrad, Jr. see at this: photo!

ASCAN1984
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posted 01-31-2005 01:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In regards to shuttle astronauts current and former:
  • Robert Gibson - Hoot
  • Duane Carey - Digger
  • Gregory C Johnson - Fox
  • Ken Bowersox - Sox
  • Scott Horrowitz - Doc

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-31-2005 01:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ASCAN1984:
Gregory C Johnson - Fox
Greg C. is "Ray J"
Greg H. is "Box"

bruce
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posted 01-31-2005 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Of all the mentions on Pete Conrad, no one has brought up his "Tweety" nickname, which I believe came about as a result to a certain Looney Tunes character who also had a high forehead and a slight gap between his two front teeth - Tweety Bird!

I heard Jim Lovell use this expression at one of the Symposiums at the Naval Museum in Florida about six or seven years ago, but I wasn't in a position to make a direct inquiry.

Anyone else heard this one?

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-31-2005 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've heard "Tweety" too. He was balding with an aquiline nose - a polite way to say eagle beak - and a world-class wiseguy, just like Tweety. And he was on the short side, too, which would be another point of resemblance.

I think I read a neighbor lady called him "Moon Man" when he was a kid because of his antics. Does anybody else remember this?

Duke Of URL
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posted 01-31-2005 10:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Hoot" Gibson was an old-time movie cowboy. At one point, nearly every boy on the planet named Gibson had the Hoot thing hung on him.

Sy Liebergot
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posted 01-31-2005 11:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sy Liebergot   Click Here to Email Sy Liebergot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jim Wetherbee was "Wex," from "WX"

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 01-31-2005 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Of course, there was Scott "Too Tall" Parazynski, who got bumped as a Shuttle-Mir backup because of his height. Wendy Lawrence also got bumped from a prime assignment because of her height, and was subsequently known as "Too Short."

Anybody have a copy of "Top Gun" to check and see if Scott Altman's call sign is listed in the credits since he was one of the F-14 drivers?

And then, of course, there's the alternate STS-77 patch as well as the patches of the Dog Crews....

Aztecdoug
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posted 01-31-2005 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
F-14 aircrew (as Lt. Scott 'D-Bear' Altman). See IMDB and scroll way down...

pokey
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posted 02-01-2005 09:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for pokey   Click Here to Email pokey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott Altman is Scooter.

Carrie
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posted 02-01-2005 10:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On a related note to the nickname topic, I've always been struck by how many astronauts are known by their middle name rather than their first. I wonder if it's an unusually high percentage, or is there close to the same percentage of the general public going by their middle name, and I'm just unaware that they are?

Duke Of URL
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posted 02-15-2005 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just found out that Wally Schirra for one refers to John Glenn as "Herschel", Glenn's middle name.

divemaster
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posted 09-16-2005 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for divemaster   Click Here to Email divemaster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Someone posed a question to me, and it got me thinking about nicknames. There were mainstream ones and "others". Here are a few that I can think of, what about others?
  • Al Shepard - Jose
  • Virgil Grissom - Gus
  • John Glenn - Herschel [at least by Wally]
  • Scott Carpenter - Scotty
  • Donald Slayton - Deke
  • Walter "Wally" Schirra - Skyray
  • Gordon Cooper - Gordo [or Hot Dog]
  • Pete Conrad - Tweety
  • Jim Lovell - Shakey
  • Alan Bean - Beano
  • Fred Haise - Freddo
  • Eugene Cernan - Geno
Others?

Aztecdoug
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posted 09-16-2005 01:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
STS-69 Dog Crew II
  • Walker was Red Dog
  • Cockrell was Cujo
  • Voss was Dog Face
  • Newman was Pluto
  • Gernhardt was Under Dog
And Edwin Aldrin aka Buzz.. or Dr Rendezvous.

mjanovec
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posted 09-16-2005 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did people use the nickname "Dr. Rock" to Schmitt's face? Or was it something said when he was out of earshot?

Matt T
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posted 09-16-2005 06:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
  • Ron Evans - Captain America
  • Harrison Schmitt - Bull
  • Russell Schweickart - Rusty

carmelo
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posted 09-16-2005 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And John Young?

randy
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posted 09-16-2005 08:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert Gibson's nickname was 'Hoot'.

FFrench
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posted 09-16-2005 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We can add:
  • Stafford: Mumbles
  • Gordon: The Animal
  • Eisele: Whatshisname

Happy Proud Thrilled
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posted 09-17-2005 03:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Happy Proud Thrilled   Click Here to Email Happy Proud Thrilled     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We can't leave out Seymour "Sy" Liebergot!

Plus, wasn't Gordon also known as Dickie-Dickie?

My son's nickname is also Gus (his first name is Grayson), and like Buzz, this was a name bestowed on him by hs sister. However, my husband gave him the middle name of Lovell, so all day long I shout "Gus Lovell Get back here".

Perhaps I'll just start calling him Shaky...

divemaster
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posted 09-17-2005 08:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for divemaster   Click Here to Email divemaster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was also made aware of the following:
  • Gordon Fullerton - Conehead and Bulletman (Shuttle)
  • Al Worden - Little Al
  • James McDivitt - Jim McBlivitt
  • Vance Brand - Humble Brand
  • Jack Lousma - Smilin' Jack

Duke Of URL
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posted 09-18-2005 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought Scott Carpenter's nickname was "M"

Schuh
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posted 09-21-2005 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Schuh   Click Here to Email Schuh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken Mattingly: TK (Thomas Kenneth)

Some good non-astro nicknames:

  • Farouk al-Baz (NASA lunar geologist): "The King"
  • Gene Kranz: "General Savage"
  • Gunter Wendt: "Fuhrer of the Pad"


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