My Blog gives me an opportunity to rekindle memories of days gone by and highlight, at least for the moment, certain vestiges of the trade that have long since disappeared. My last foray into better times was a virtual visit to that hallowed institution, the Stag Bar.
Today, for those of you who are old enough, I’d ask you to cast your mind back to times before political correctness, woke, and command-level ass covering began to eat away at the warrior mentality. For those who are simply interested in the psyche of the fighter pilot or those who WERE fighter pilots but never had the chance to express themselves in prose or poetry without fear of retribution, I give you, the Hog Log (aka the Doofer Book in some squadrons).
I can’t give you a firm historical reference for emergence of the first Hog Log, but those who were in a position to know advise me that the tradition was gathering pace in the mid-70s and was certainly well known in the 80s. That’s the data reference I’ll use in this article. As the Operations Officer at Det 4 of the 81st Tac Fighter Wing I inaugurated the Detachment’s Hog Log (See the photo) shortly after we began operating at Fliegerhorst Nörvenich, a German fighter base near Cologne. The initial entry was 6th August 1980.
Rules of Engagement for Hog Logs worldwide were similar and relatively simple. Ours read like this:
- No one is immune to harassment in this volume
- Entries must be reasonably legible
- Lies will be tolerated
- This volume is for the exclusive use of Det 4, 81st Tac Fighter Wing personnel and deployed Hog Drivers
- Contents of this log are unofficial and will not be released to wives/significant others, full Colonels and above and anyone else without a need to know
- Finally (and this was the standard for every Hog Log I ever saw) DATE & SIGN YOUR F****NG ENTRY.
It should be apparent from the ROE above that the express purpose of the Hog Log was entertainment. Politics, religion and other potentially explosive issues were scrupulously avoided. As stated in rule number one EVERYONE was fair game and this made for some truly inspiring entries—procedural fumbles, gaffes, and personal buffoonery were all attacked with gusto (and it must be said, normally in good humor). Embarrassing photos and amateur cartoons appeared and were often converted to ‘caption contests’ to maximize humiliation of the subject.
Indiscretions by deployed pilots were commonly highlighted in the Log and but, in keeping with ancient tradition “what happens on TDY (Temporary Duty) stays TDY.” Although this principle has likely altered with the deterioration of the fighter pilot culture, I never knew it to be violated.
I can’t do the Hog Log justice without an example or two, so here are a few that jumped out at me when I went through the Log:
- We had one pilot (we’ll call him Major ‘S’) who regularly flew with us at Nörvenich. During his spare time, he managed to strike up a ‘relationship’ with a local lady, who, unfortunately, hadn’t aged very well. She was painfully thin with a sallow complexion, stringy hair and a constant expression of despair on her face. Because they were sensitive and caring friends, his fellow fighter pilots named her ‘The Dead Lady’ and Major ‘S’ absorbed vast amounts of flak from them. Undaunted, he continued to pursue her with enthusiasm. In September 1982, one of his squadron mates ‘rewarded’ his persistence with the following Hog Log entry:
Citation to accompany the Award of ‘The Meritorious Servicing Medal’(MSM)
The MSM is awarded to Major ‘S’, whose tireless pursuit of the Rigor Mortis Madonna has subjected him to endless taunts and catcalls from those with better taste. Major’S’s dedication to this thankless task establishes him as ‘The man who discovered a questionable alternative to masturbation,’ and a serious contender for inclusion in the Necrophiliac Hall of Fame.
His efforts reflect little credit upon himself and military aviation in general
Copperhead, 18 Sep 82
- Flying Buffoonery was lampooned mercilessly in the Hog Log. Mistakes that would otherwise be debriefed confidentially were showcased with abandon—again, no one was court martialed or drummed out of the corps for anecdotes highlighting screwing things up in the air, but the ‘culprits’ were always fair game at the bar. The following 19 March 1982 entry covers a brief lapse (or ‘brain fart’) by one of the deployed flight leads. The potential for international incidents was there, but fortunately did not materialize. In the entry ‘ADIZ’ is the Air Defence Identification Zone—the absolute barrier between West and East Germany. Flying into the ADIZ was strictly prohibited. Here’s ‘Honker’s’ entry”
All goes well during the Close Air Support and flight lead ‘Gambler’ (in a most confident voice) says “Egress; time to go home.” ‘Honker (the wingman) looks at his compass and confirms we are heading 090—East. “Hmmm, I wonder why we’re egressing into the ADIZ?” Honker lets Gambler go until the hair is standing straight up on his head and calls Gambler on FM radio: “Hey Gambler, why are we egressing east?”
Gambler comes back “Oh, yeah, I guess we need to head west!”
Remember—in Germany, good guys are west and bad guys are east
- My final Hog Log sample is relatively mild, but I’m using it for a couple reasons—first, it was one of my better entries and second, the offender in this scenario was a talented, but undistinguished Captain in the 78th Tac Fighter Squadron when it took place. Fast forward 30 years and Mark Welsh had four stars on his epaulets and was Chief of Staff of the US Air Force. (‘Bodine’ – Sir – if you’re reading this, please get in touch)This may be because of his ability to see into the future. Read on.
The 78th has given birth to a new. breed of over-achiever. Picture this: USAFE Stan Eval (a higher headquarters inspection team) is in attendance (trying to think of something to criticize after their first 3 hours here). One of the aforementioned inspectors innocently asks “How many Ops Guidance Letters (OGLs are operational notes to pilots which must be read and initialed when they are produced) have there been this year?”
“We’re up to 82-10”, I answer— “why do you ask?”
With a satanic gleam in his eye, the Stan Eval-er snaps open the OGL book to the sign-off page where Welsh has cleverly initialed up through item 82-16. Red pencil bobbing furiously, he disappears into the sunset.
Give me a break, Mark—tell me what’s going to be written next week, next month, next year—or maybe you could read my palm……or check out your crystal ball.
Ladd, 26 March 82
I could never do justice to the vast store of wit and wisdom that filled the Hog Log with just a few examples. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who was flying fighters in the ‘70s. ‘80s and maybe the early ‘90s, buy them a beer, ask them about the Hog Log. You’ll surely have a fascinating couple of hours.