From the Stars and Stripes archives

GIs face heated process when naming their tanks

An Abrams tank from 1st Battalion, 64th Armor bears a message for all those waiting for another U.N. resolution.


By JOSEPH GIORDONO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 19, 2003

ASSEMBLY AREA HAMMER, Kuwait — Make no mistake: The “Big Punisher” and “Big Rooster” are out there.

That’s “big” as in Abrams tanks.

In the desolate staging areas just south of the Iraqi border, creative tankers have been personalizing their big guns by stenciling nicknames on them.

“It’s not something you slap up there; you’ve got to put some thought and creativity into it,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Pisciotta, a 26-year-old tank commander from Lakewood, N.J.

Not only is the name game getting serious attention, it’s become almost an obsession for the tankers of 1st Battalion, 64th Armor.

However, all the tank names have to begin with the letter “B” in honor of the new Company B for the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment — a company of Bradley personnel carriers that was swapped with 2nd Battalion for a company of tanks.

The result: names such as “Big Punisher” and “Baghdad Bound.”

By unanimous acclaim, Pisciotta’s tank is graced with the best moniker: “Best Resolution Yet,” a play on the United Nation’s previous debate on an Iraq resolution.

Each side of the main gun tube is stenciled with white letters over a black background; cutout photos of a Saddam Hussein doll dressed in drag are pasted next to the name.

Naming the tanks is a heated process. The tank crews offer up their suggestions; the tank commander can veto the crew; and the higher company leadership has final say over whether the names are too offensive to grace a multimillion-dollar piece of military hardware.

“They don’t want to have anything that promotes negativity or is demeaning or something,” said Sgt. Michael Lewis, a 28-year-old from Marshall, Texas.

Of course, the military has looser definitions of negativity than some, so names such as “Ballbuster, Inc.” are acceptable.

Lewis, clad in a T-shirt and sunglasses, passed the time one day recently by doing maintenance on the big barrel of “Bulldog II.” Lewis’ tank commander served on “Bulldog I” in South Korea, so he wanted to carry on the tradition in Kuwait.

Most of the tankers from Company B were with the 1-15th Infantry when it deployed to Kuwait in May 2002. The unit had a short break for the winter holidays and returned in early January.

Hence, another tank crew dubbed its track “Back With a Vengeance.”

The names do not stop at the big gun; the smaller weapons have names that correspond to the others. For example, one tank’s main gun is named “Big Rooster” and the smaller machine gun is stenciled “Baby Cock.”

When all is said and done, the tanks will go back into the Army prepositioned system and be repainted.

Another crew on another deployment will take possession of the track, make it their home and give it a new name and a new stencil on the tube.

An Abrams tank from 1st Battalion, 64th Armor bears a message for Saddam Hussein.


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