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thedrifter
04-17-03, 09:56 AM
Posted on Thu, Apr. 17, 2003

Military term causes a lot of hoo-ah
By Steve Chawkins
LOS ANGELES TIMES

Military talk in the past few weeks has run to bunker-busters and daisy-cutters -- and, from the Beltway to Baghdad, a heck of a lot of hoo-ah.

Or, more properly: HOO-AH!

That's the all-purpose exclamation, affirmation and declaration of pride that started in the Army but has since made its way into the Air Force, and on occasion has even augmented the Navy's ancient aye-aye. The Marines have their own chest-thumping version -- OOH-RAH! -- but they'll tell you that an ooh-rah is no more to be confused with a hoo-ah than a caisson is with a quesadilla.

Where these joyful noises come from nobody knows exactly. Theories run the gamut, from a toast in the Indian wars of the 1840s to an abridged version of "heard, understood and acknowledged," courtesy of eager acronym spinners in the U.S. Department of Defense. All that's really known is that, for years, the expression was barely heard outside of military bases.

Then in 1992 came the famous volley of hoo-ahs from retired Army Lt. Col. Frank Slade, the blind, alcoholic, tango-dancing officer portrayed by Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman." And now, thanks to nonstop coverage of the war in Iraq, it's all over the place.

"It started out as kind of an exclamation point, and that was just fine," said retired Brig. Gen. Creighton Abrams, director of the Army Historical Foundation in Arlington, Va. "Then it became something almost perfunctory, as in saying 'Hoo-ah!' instead of saying goodbye. Unfortunately, it's become a bit much."

In San Diego, Marine Sgt. William Dullard recalled the thrill of his first ooh-rah, when he and his platoon graduated from boot camp.

"Our C.O. dismissed us, we did an about-face and everyone screamed, 'Ooh-rah!'" he said. "It was like a movie moment."

As administrative chief of the drill instructors school at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, he has since belted out, and gratefully received, his share of ooh-rahs. His enthusiasm for the expression is such that he even ooh-rahs at home: "When we got approved for a loan, it was, 'Wow! Ooh-rah!'"

Like an Army entrenching tool, the expression has a multitude of uses. It means: "Yes, sir. I'm ready to do the job. Good to go." And: "Congratulations!" And: "Absolutely, I agree." And: "Howdy!" And: "Let's go cover ourselves with glory!" And even: "Have a nice day!"

John Haire, a spokesman for the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles, can distinguish between front-line hoo-ahs and supply troop hoo-ahs, between the Army's rendition and the "fuller vowels" of the Air Force version.

"It can be used the way the French use 'non' at the end of a sentence to mean 'Do you understand?'" said Haire, an Army veteran as well as a former Navy reservist. "After you've briefed somebody on something, you might ask, 'Hoo-ah?'"

In a town hall meeting in August at Fort Hood in Texas, remarks by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld were peppered by 32 hoo-ahs from the troops, as doggedly chronicled by a military transcriber. The question-and-answer session included this exchange between Rumsfeld and a soldier who said he was from Chicago:

Rumsfeld: "Chicago?"

Soldier: "Roger, sir." (Scattered "hoo-ah" cheers.)

Rumsfeld: "Hoo-ah!"

Soldier: "Hoo-ah!"

Audience member: "That's your hometown!"

Rumsfeld: "That's my hometown!"

In Iraq, there was even a bit of celebrity hoo-ah.

The scene: Night in the desert. Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera delivers his war report as exhausted soldiers cluster around him. Rivera wraps it up and cues his buddies.

"Hoo-ah!" they yell to a global audience.

Some have suggested the expression derives from the rueful Army adage "Hurry up and wait." William L. Priest, author of a book on military expressions titled "Swear Like a Trooper," figures it may date to the British "Huzzah!" of the 1700s. But a favored U.S. Army explanation is drawn from the history of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, known back in 1841 as the 2nd Dragoons.

That year, according to regimental lore, a Seminole chief named Coacoochee attended a banquet after truce talks between his tribe and the Army. New to the custom of toasting, he raised his glass and shouted something that sounded like "Hoo-ah!" -- a cry echoed by the officers and adopted by the regiment.

For a time, hoo-ah was bellowed most notably by elite units such as the Army Rangers. But Matthew Seelinger, a historian with the Army Historical Foundation, said he has seen a particularly sharp increase since 2001, when regular troops were issued the black berets formerly worn only by Rangers.

"We were at an event for the Personnel Command, and they were using it there," he said. "These are people who sit behind desks."

Last year, there was a brief flurry of publicized e-mails from top Air Force officers suggesting that, for esprit de corps, the service discourage hoo-ah and replace it with "Airpower!"

That idea went nowhere.

"'Airpower!' is kind of a mouthful," said Maj. Stacee Bako, a spokeswoman at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc. "'Hoo-ah!' is kind of primal."

Bako, who has hoo-ah'd since she signed on to the Air Force 13 years ago, said the cry rings out around the base all the time. She heard it, for instance, at staff meetings where strategy was planned to continue Vandenberg's streak in competition for a prestigious Air Force award.

"Every time someone would say 'Three-peat!' or 'Team Vandenberg!' the response would be 'Hoo-ah!'" she said.

Ooh-rah is the motivational cry of choice at Navy boot camp.

"I'll even hear it on the phone when I'm talking with a sailor," said Lt. Cmdr. John Wallach, a spokesman for Naval Training Center Great Lakes, the Navy's main basic training site. "I'll say something like 'Will you be there?' and he'll say 'yes' or 'aye-aye' or 'ooh-rah.'"

Ooh-rah and hoo-ah both are heard on Navy bases and on ships at sea but, except for the SEALs' spirited hoo-ya, the use of such expressions is inconsistent, said Jack Green, a spokesman for the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C.

"In the age of sail, the Navy cry was 'Huzzah' or 'Hip, hip hooray,'" he said, "but today there's no real equivalent."

Whether hoo-ah or its cousins will roar into the language permanently is an open question. Joseph Pickett, executive editor of the American Heritage Dictionary, said he is tracking usage of current military expressions such as "embedded" and "deconflicting the airspace" and might put "hoo-ah" on his watch list as well.

"Words like this come up every so often, and every so often they stick around," Pickett said.

Sempers,

Roger

Shaffer
04-17-03, 10:23 AM
Hoo-ah & hoo-ya...say them as loud as you can. Sounds like someone who needs a little testosterone.

When I went out to see President Bush speak at the Mayport Navy base here in Jacksonville a month or so ago, it was dubbed as a "Navy Day." The Admiral out there stated to our small Marine detachment of 8 able bodies (all of which were active duty except for me) that this would be the Navy's day and the Marines would have to wait. While we were waiting for the President to arrive a Navy Chief was trying to motivate the crowd and get them to be as loud as they could. Keep in mind there were about 1000 sailors present. The Chief was trying to motivate them and get them to yell Hoo-ah. It was a very sad sound that bellowed from the fat bodies of these sailors. And no matter how many times they practiced it still seemed very pathetic. Then the CO of the Marine detachment spoke up and said "Let us show you how it is done" and proceeded to motivate 8 Marines. All it took was a simple "Marines, Sound-Off" and those 8 Marines shook the crowd with one big, loud and synchronized " OOH-RAH!!!"

The Chief said he was ashamed that 8 Marines sounded louder than 1000 sailors. So much for the "Navy's Day".

My suggestion would be for them to grab their marbles and then try to say it. They way have better luck. :marine:

Armory
04-17-03, 10:59 AM
"That's the all-purpose exclamation, affirmation and declaration of pride that started in the Army but has since made its way into the Air Force, and on occasion has even augmented the Navy's ancient aye-aye. The Marines have their own chest-thumping version -- OOH-RAH!"

Stop me if I'm wrong. But we started OOH RAH and the Army copied it and made it into hooah. The way I heard it, we mimiced the sound of a ships horn while on runs and it spread through the corps around the 50's. Hooah has only been around since the late 70's.