Squatch is the call sign or nickname given to me when I was a "Crew Dog" on USAF E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. It is short for Sasquatch. The term comes from the native American word saskahaves meaning ‘wild man’.

I obtained the moniker while I was on temporary duty at Keflavik NAS, in Iceland. The purpose of having the AWACS in Iceland was to perform a surveillance and tracking mission. We were interested in following certain aircraft transiting the region. Since one could never know exactly when one of these aircraft would show up, we were kept in an ‘alert’ status. Our aircraft was pre-flighted and ‘cocked’, i.e. ready-to-go. When the Klaxon sounded we would all pile into our ‘alert’ vehicles, and race to the flightline and hangar where our jet awaited. Shortly (if everything went as planned) we would be airborne and performing our mission.

Most of the time, these ‘scrambles’ were infrequent. Because of this we spent a lot of time just waiting in the alert barracks. The combination of bored individuals, lots of free time, and a general lack of freedom produced an animal-house atmosphere. In fact the building which was used to house the AWACS alert crews became known as the "Goat Pen", and there was a cartoon of a goat painted on one of the second story dayroom windows.

One night, an unknown crew mate, placed a nametag on my door. He made it from a free item that was enclosed inside an Alphabets cereal box. It was a set of adhesive stickers which was comprised letters of the alphabet and a cardboard "chalkboard" to stick them on. It probably was a day or so before I noticed that the official name card had been replaced with one that said "Sasquatch".

By this time (August 1985), I had been in the AWACS wing for about one year, and I still did not have a ‘call sign’. This was not due to a lack of effort on the part of others. Many had tried, many names had been suggested, but to that point none of them stuck. This time, however, Squatch seemed to be the one that pleased the masses, and since one has little choice in these matters anyway, I didn’t protest (hey could’ve been a LOT worse).

These days, no one calls me Squatch anymore, except some of my old Air Force buds.

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