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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Strange names worth a laugh...

Posted 1/24/17 (Tue)

Have you ever met somebody with a strange name that you just can’t get out of your head?

This isn’t about “A Boy Named Sue,” like Johnny Cash sang about in his 1969 song recorded at San Quentin Prison.

This is about people who have odd names like Sergant Shriver or Bud Light, or better yet, a young female lawyer named Sue Yoo.

Many years ago, when Bob Barker was host of the game show Truth or Consequences, he selected people out of the audience who had to go out into Los Angeles and find people with the strangest names they could locate for the show.

They found a guy named Rusty Pipes and a woman named Merry Christmas.

There are some odd names in North Dakota like Buckshot Hoffner, Pork Lawler, Dude Gimbel and Bubba Schweigert. Many of us are used to those names so we don’t even pay attention to their oddity.

But there are others that can make us laugh endlessly. And just to clarify, we were all given our names by our parents so we can’t do much about that, so it may not be funny. Some people, however, embrace their odd names and use it as a novelty, marketing tool or pen name to promote newspaper articles or books.

Early in my National Guard career, I worked in operations plotting chemical strikes and worked with Captain Koch (pronounced Cook), the executive officer.

In the early ‘90s, I took an acting managing editor job in Winner, South Dakota for several months. That’s where I met Sergeant Sargent.

Joan Sargent was a young farm wife and was a sergeant in the South Dakota National Guard, hence the name, Sergeant Sargent.

In 2010, the officer candidate academy at Fort Meade, South Dakota had a couple of interesting names, both of whom were in the same platoon.

Their names were Toyota and Isuzzu, but I don’t recall their first names. Toyoto was from Hawaii and Isuzzu came from Guam.

So when the students passed their academy tests and the pressure was off, guess what happened in the barracks?

Yes, Toyota and Isuzzu had a race. They enlisted their friends to come up with some clever ideas for “model” race cars and they actually raced their homemade cars in the barracks. Isuzzu was declared the winner.

When I was in the academy as a student, one of my classmates had the unfortunate name of John Rambough. My goodness did the drill sergeants have fun with that poor guy.

For many years, the United States had a naval air station in Keflavik, Iceland. It was mainly there for the U.S. Navy to patrol the waters of the North Atlantic, but also had an airport that accepted commercial flights from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.

The North Dakota National Guard was there in 2001, three months before 9/11. But while there, we met, and some of the troops worked for Major Minor who was a construction supervisor.

When our Guard unit was mobilized to U.S. Central Command in 2006, the commander, the executive officer, myself and Gen. Dave Sprynzynatik were walking through the hallway to meet the people we’d be working with and on the wall was a picture of General Custer wearing camouflage.

I’m not making this up. So, of course, when the meeting was finished, I had to ask the question and yes, General “John” Custer was also stationed at U.S. Central Command. A couple of my young troops met him and were given command coins by him.

Also, Lieutenant Dan was one of our leaders who was the first of our group to go overseas and recon our compound... with both legs. He is now a major and still working in the National Guard.

Years ago, the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football League had a quarterback whose name is Joe Pao Pao. They called him the “Throwin’ Samoan.” Pao Pao is still involved in coaching in the CFL.

Let’s not forget about Vladimir Guerrero, the baseball player who finished his Major League career with the Baltimore Orioles in 2011. His first name and last name aren’t so strange, but the two of them together don’t seem to match, Vladimir being a common Russian name and Guerrero is common in Hispanic communities.

There are countless other names that can be found in various places, some that are so hilarious, you won’t be able to stop laughing.

Wendy Wacko, Sarah Sodah, Jack Daniels, Barb Dwyer, Justin Case; the list goes on. Have fun with it.