A Friend

James “Jim” McMahon was my friend. There’s no argument or pretense in this. I forced my friendship on him the same way I did with many of the operators in the Delta Force: by memorizing their first names from a roster and then greeting them in the spine — the long (LONG) hallway that traversed the length of the Unit’s main cantonment building.

Staff Duty consists of a pair of men who stay up all night near the commander’s office monitoring phones and handling a host of other routine functions. There was a large binder in the Staff Duty office filled with the photos of every person assigned to the Unit. There was an identical photo binder at the front gate maintained by the 24/7 guard teams.

For lack of scintillating activities to keep my mind off of sleep, I paged through that tome for a hateful amount of hours memorizing every first name of all of the people in our family. I admit I started with my brother operators because I just happen to be that sort of an asshole, but I finally got around to everyone. I would then test myself on the names over and over through the night.

No Jadens in Delta Force

I noted the preponderance of what I call: the “Old-School American Name Standard.” That is names like James, John, Mike… etc. Out of curiosity, I counted the redundant names to reveal that, in fact, James/Jim was the most popular, tallying up to 19, followed by John, then Mike — no Ryders, Striders, Chases, Colts, Jadens… OMG, Jaden!

“Oh, we named him Jaden after his great grandfather Jaden, who commanded a company of infantry in the Somme and Verdun during WWI.”

“Captain Jaden… stand your men to with fixed bayonets, and prepare to assault the German trenches, man!”

The fun came in the morning while heading to breakfast:

“Morning Jim… howdy John… what’s up, Mike… G’day, Ms. Denise — looking sharp; how’s the kids? Have a good day!”