My Dad the Tex-Mex RadiomanBenjamin Gonzales, Seabrook, TX
My dad served in Vietnam from January 1970 to January 1971 as a Marine with the First Marine Division Alpha and Charlie Company 2nd Platoon.
A few months after arriving in ‘Nam, he volunteered to become a radioman. No one wanted that job because it was very dangerous — the enemy made certain the radioman was the first to be killed. No radio, no support.
But my dad stepped up. He told me that his vocabulary was limited, and he had trouble pronouncing many English words. He mostly spoke Tex-Mex. But he was a very big and strong man.
He said the radio rules were very simple: “negative” for “no,” “affirmative” for “yes,” and there was one sacred word: “repeat” (this had to do with artillery and friendly fire). But Dad just couldn’t pronounce “affirmative,” and sometimes his fellow Marines would get a laugh out of his pronunciation.
One day somewhere in the jungles of Vietnam, Dad got tired of being laughed at. Around April of 1970, instead of saying “affirmative,” he said “roger that.” And that’s the phrase his unit used from then on.
Thank you Dad…we love you, and we love your war stories.