TARE UNCLE OVER AND OUT

By Don Gardner

 

You, too, can be violated if you don't watch out!

While exchanging e-mail messages recently, Jack Eckert mentioned that on his station, the phrase ‘Tare Uncle* [Thank You], Over and Out’ was used when ending transmissions. Radiomen** everywhere will shudder when they read this odious and ungodly sacrilege and violation of proper radiotelephone procedure, possibly causing them to throw up in the nearest can at the thought of someone using ‘Over’ and ‘Out’ to end a transmission. You can be ‘Over’ and you can be ‘Out,’ but you can NOT be ‘Over and Out’ at the same time.

I can visualize someone crawling out from under a smelly engine and picking up a handset with oily fingers while resting one hand on the cabinet of the gear: ‘Ya, dis is Lonesome Lighthouse, back to you dere, Ole.’

Radiomen everywhere: Stand up to this outrage!

You see, Uncle Sammy and the U.S. Coast Guard sent us to radio school for six long, tortuous months, where we learned how to send and receive Morse code; type; proper radio procedures, both CW and radiotelephone; teletype training; how to handle Distress and Emergency traffic; the message precedence system; identifying the various types, parts, and elements of messages; learning to count the chargeable groups in a class E message, and on and on and on. During our long assignment at Groton under intensive and expert instruction, the lesser ratings were waltzing through their schools in four months.

‘Do you know what this is?’

‘Ya, uh, I think that’s what they call a screwdriver?’

‘Congratulations, here is your "crow"’.

While I was an RMC watch supervisor at CG Radio Station San Francisco, NMC, RM1 Lockhart was selected for charm school. Months later I was stationed at Hq. and ENS (gasp!) Lockhart was attached to Operations, Communications (OC) where he was given the task of writing a radiotelephone procedure manual for the Coast Guard. Previous to this, operators were using as a guide whatever the district put out for its people, but Hq. wanted one manual for Coast Guard-wide use. Mr. (stifle!) Lockhart was given the mission, which required a few trips to the Pentagon to consult with the Navy. However, as everyone well knows, due to our need for obtaining information quickly, there were many instances Navy procedure could not cover a situation we often would run into.

Whenever I had the day or evening watch, Mr. (choke!) Lockhart would bring his files around to the communications centre to show what he had drafted and asked for my opinion on many procedures. The final version of the manual wasn’t quite up to par, but it was certainly something to start with.

Having been the radiotelephone operator on the CG-83312, I was well-conversant with voice procedure. CG Regs said that whenever possible, a Radioman should not man a voice circuit when other personnel were available—this being a waste of our enormous talents; however, I used voice at Bermuda and San Diego to talk with the aircraft—it is much quicker than CW, and the helicopters didn’t carry a radio operator. On the GRESHAM we piped up the URC-7 transceiver to the bridge when underway, but they sometimes gave it back when they were busy. Radiomen manning voice circuits was the rule, however, and not the exception.

Informal communications such as ‘Tare Uncle’ are not authorised, but I could not have filled out that fatal report of radio violations form on Jack and submitted it to Hq. and his district office. The sight of Jack hanging from a yardarm is a little bit more punishment than I would have liked, especially since we Radiomen were technically, repeat, technically, guilty of a small breeches of circuit discipline. Coast Guard Radiomen often shot-the-bull on CW circuits when we worked a Merchie or any other CGC on a commercial frequency (and CG circuits, too!), but this was done only for training—to help with our Morse sending and receiving skills.

Once I passed the baseball scores to a SAR standby Cutter in Bermuda for morale purposes and a former Radioman, who had been demoted to officer status, reported it to my Chief. The officer lived on the base near the antenna and had copied my signals splashing over on his commercial receiver. I promised the Chief I wouldn’t do it again. Yeah, right.

After Hq., my next duty station was CG Radio Station Long Beach, NMQ. I noticed the Radiomen there were saying ‘symbol for period’ and ‘symbol for comma’, which I quickly stopped by telling everyone that the word ‘period’ or ‘comma’ without the ‘symbol for’ should be used. Then I halted the use of ‘short break’ and the ‘long break’ they were using, telling them they were all the same size, plain old ‘break’s.

Mr. (gulp!) Lockhart was now the Assistant to LT Gaida, the district communications officer. I don’t know if Mr. (you know) Lockhart spilled the beans or not, but several times I was sent to a 95- or 82-footer to give radiotelephone procedure lectures to the crew. It paid off, too, because a 95-footer sent a message one day that was the first ever to be absolutely perfect procedurally. I took the mike and transmitted a ‘well done’ to the operator.

Tuna boat skippers liked to talk with each other on 2182 kcs, which caused an interference problem at times. There was one guy who would call his buddy Jack each day and end his transmission by saying, ‘Roger, Jack Off’. You couldn’t tell these guys they were bordering on profanity, and the FCC didn’t care to enforce radio violations on that frequency.

Later I finished my career at the District Office communications centre; Mr. (whew!) Lockhart had been replaced by Mr. Smith, another charm school graduate who had been a Radioman. When I sold Mr. Gaida on the idea that each of the Radiomen and I should visit the Air Force automatic switching centre at Norton to become more familiar with that end of AUTODIN operations, Mr. Smith wanted to tag along, too, especially when he heard we planned to stop at a topless bar on the way there and back. When this part, indeed a major part, of the itinerary became known, there was no lack of volunteers, although this left little time to spend at Norton. Some of the Radiomen volunteered for second and third field trips and I was required to accompany them.

That’s the end of this story. Tango Uniform (Tare Uncle to Jack), I’m now Over and Out.

 

Note:

1. God and Radioman(men) are always capitalized.

2. These phonetics were changed circa 1954 and continue to be used today, 45 years later.

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