What is a Hmrjmr?

I have been asked a couple times about my moniker here on Hub pages. Hmrjmr1 is an abbreviation of my radio call sign at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hammer, Iraq. I arrived at FOB Hammer in spring 2007 just shortly after the Dirt Wall ‘Berm’ had been finished. It was a new camp to the east of Baghdad and had both strategic and tactical considerations at the time that I won’t go into here but safe to say it was an important piece of ground for our efforts in Iraq.

It was occupied by the 3rd HCBT (Heavy Brigade Combat Team) 3rd Infantry Division, Commanded at the time by Col Wayne Grigsby, probably the best infantry brigade commander I have ever encountered in both my 22 years of active duty, and 4 years 8 months of contracting time. The 3rd Brigade was nicknamed the “Sledge Hammers” thus when they built the FOB they had the naming rights and it became FOB Hammer. Col Grigsby’s call sign was “Hammer 6” signifying the Brigade (Hammer) Commander (6). We the Contractors, provided FOB services to the Military, like plumbers, electricians, cooks, and my functional area of Morale Welfare and Recreation Services, among a host of others.

Hammer Jammer U
Hammer Jammer U
Best Team on The Planet!
Best Team on The Planet!
Hoooah! Allll Dayyy Looooong!
Hoooah! Allll Dayyy Looooong!

Now it is fair at this point to mention that the ground FOB Hammer was built on was, while tactically important, some of the worst ground Iraq or the region itself has to offer. The dust was the consistency of superfine baby powder that was in places a couple of feet thick. It was so fine that the nightly air pressure changes would elevate the top inch or so into a dustfog that was twenty or thirty feet high. It got into everything all the time, and when the wind blew (most of the time) it did so with a vengeance. It was a difficult place to live. but I digress.

Back to call signs; each of us contractors were assigned a radio on the FOB, not necessarily as a convenience, as there were no phones, but for security reasons. During attacks and after personnel accountability was a big issue. So when we had incoming rounds we would all take cover in the nearest bunker and clear the radio net and report the accountability personally and department heads (think supervisors) if some one did not answer, we would start looking for them. Of course if you were wounded you called on the net for help. So each individual contractor had to have a call sign.

When I arrived on FOB Hammer our call signs were set by department (eg MWR 1, Carpenter 2, etc) but shortly after I arrived we were directed to change as you have to assume the enemy is listening and the command did not want them to know who was doing what. Our company operations was in charge of this and they came up with what would be known as the ‘Hammer Scheme’, they came up with some cool call signs like Claw hammer for carpenters, and some others but it rapidly became unmanageable as some of the trades did not have such an identifiable hammer type that folks could remember. My department picked up the Hammer Jammer call sign at this time, and when the plan was scraped it was the only hammer variant retained.

Why Hammer Jammer then? Well every week at the FOB Mayors Cell meeting I had to give a briefing of MWR activities for the week,. The Army has a tradition of concluding their briefings with a unit catch phrase, like “Rangers Lead the Way!”, “Sledge Hammer!” and so on. Being retired Army I just automatically added on to mine that I took from Bob Marleys song “Jammin”. The song starts out with “Well, it’s a long life and we’re Jammin hope you like Jammin too!”; I thought that was a pretty cool sentiment for MWR to have so at the end of my briefing I would conclude it with the Phrase “We be Jammin!” Thus Hammer Jammers and since I was a civilian department head Hammer Jammer 1 was assigned.

As Paul Harvey used to say, Now comes the rest of the story. You see I felt it was incumbent on me to develop some cohesive pride in my department. As I said before, FOB Hammer was a difficult place to live. Consequently in the contracting world being sent there was not generally appreciated by the folks assigned to the FOB. Seems many of the Functional Managers, and other Camp Mangers used it to send off their “problem child” though that would be denied by management.

On the other hand, I had volunteered to go, as I had asked my managers for the chance to build new camps, and to take on the tough jobs in places nobody else wanted to be. I promised them I would make something out of nothing if I had to, and FOB Hammer was just such a place at the beginning. I woke up every single day I was on FOB Hammer certain in the knowledge that I was were I was cause I had put myself there, and I could smile knowing I had got what I asked for. I took that attitude and made being a Hammer Jammer a point of pride not only at FOB Hammer but with in the larger MWR Community in the Baghdad Area.

Now I have to tell you that just after I was assigned to FOB Hammer I got a new Functional Area Manager Ms Pennie Bannister. We were blessed. When it came to personnel assignments we worked closely together and I got some quality personnel. The original crew I had were temporarily assigned and had return dates to their previous FOBs assured. I needed folks that would take some extra pride in the camp despite its drawbacks and make the MWR programs go and grow. Pennie Bannister delivered such a crew as the temporary assignments ran out. I do believe more than any one else she was responsible for assembling the Best MWR Team on the Planet, all I had to do was train them, give them the missions, and step back out of the way and let them shine! They never let me down. So it was then that after about 6 or 7 months of operation my MWR program got the moniker HammerJammerUniversity from Ms Pennie and we had some grads and some drop outs but our accomplishments speak for themselves.

During the seventeen months my team operated Hammer MWR we served over 1.6 million customers, on a FOB that had a population that varied between 2500-5000 people at any given time. That means we statistically served every individual on the FOB every 1.4 days. I do not know of any other FOB with that kind of record; especially when you consider that not one of our customers had an individual requirement to attend any of our events or programs.

One other significant element you should know about the Hammer Jammers. We were truly a multi national team. We had Hammer Jammers from the US, Canada, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, Macedonia, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. All with the common purpose of giving our soldiers a quality experience every day, were they could leave the stresses behind and focus on the fun of the game, the song, the exercise, the internet. With the common hope that one day we would no longer be needed.

So it is with immense pride that when I started Hubbing, I did so about HammerJammerUniversity and used my call sign to sign in. I was the first Hammer Jammer 1 and the current Hammer Jammer 1 is one of the guys that I trained to earn that position, Mr Amir (for personal security reasons I will not list his last name) he is a true Hammer Jammer as he was assigned just a month or so after I was, and took pride in mission to a level rarely achieved by others. He had been a grunt in the Bosnian Army during their conflict and had served as a contract worker for the US forces in Bosnia for many years before coming to Iraq. He understands soldiers in general and US soldiers in particular, and I do believe loves them nearly as much as I do.

During my tenure at FOB Hammer we had a weekly mandatory safety meeting for all employees, contractor, and sub contract workers. It was the one time a week I could have most of my folks in one place, since we ran all of our facilities 24/7. At the end of these meetings I would gather my Hammer Jammers and we’d put our hands in the middle of the circle like a pre-game team and I would give them a motivational moment that ended with the Questions “Who are ya?” answer Hammer Jammers! What do we do? “We Be Jammin!” When do we do it? Allll Dayyy Looooong!!! Thus I will be, always a Hammer Jammer! Keep on Jammin!

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Comments 43 comments

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 7 years ago

Fantastic explanation Hmrjmr. Keep on Jammin!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Alll Daayyy Looong BPOP see ya at Choir


Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing you old Hammer Jammer. My brother was in the first Desert Storm Operation. He told me he ran the largest car wash in the world. He was in maintenance and had to keep the trucks and tracks a rolling right along, the sand was terrible. His lung went down twice and the second time he was sent to Ramstein Germany then back to the states. He retired after 20 plus years and now works in maintenace for the Postal Service near Ashboro, NC.

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Putz - Thanks for stopping by, And thank your Brother for me I was in Desert Storm as well and it was nearly as bad as FOB Hammer for the dust etc. Glad he's doing OK. Have a great New Year!

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Over 1.6 million customers, eh? You are a hero, and a great writer.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks Loreli - It was and is a great Team at the Hammer!

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Ah, the story behind the avatar!! Fantastic!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

CandieV thanks for stopping by! Whats the story behind yours?

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Hmrjmr1 YOU THE MAN!!!!!!!! Keep on with your JAMMIN!!!!!!! All throught the New Year (8D)

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Wilco Tom you too! :D

Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 7 years ago

What an inspirational story! We should all be as proud of our military and all those that serve along side. Thanks for writing this now I have even more a sense of the person behind the words.

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks Tammy! appreciate your kind words! Have a Happy New Year!

Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 7 years ago from Michigan

A great story that explains your name well. thanks for your service to our country.

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks TFT and GBY and a Happy New Year!

Dame Scribe profile image

Dame Scribe 7 years ago from Canada

Wonderful to know our military personnel have such dedicated and caring people and programs to keep their spirits up and you still have that! Thank you for such a awesome job! :)

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks Dame Scribe! God Bless and have a Jammin New Year!

carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

HammaJamma layin the hamma down!!

Great post.. and a fun read!!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

CM - Much Thanks We be Jammin All Dayyy Loooong! Happy New Year!

ivori 7 years ago

Great post! Now I gotta go spit some grit to get rid of all that dust. Had many friends in MWR and they really do 'jam all day long'! Thanks for sharing.

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 7 years ago from Arizona

Thanks for the insight into your back ground and call sign. As a Shitbird in the USMC we rotated call signs weekly and rather than the confusion that it created we dropped the rotation to two call signs. Depending if I sat in the highchair(ordinance control) of a Cobra or the right seat (Peter Pilot) of a uh-1 Slick I called out as Delta Gunner(cobra) and Dust Off (slick) . These call signs were followed by a numeric validation that was based on confirmed KIA (cobra) or successful missions (slick). It wasn't rocket science but it seemed to work well as rotations came weeks apart sometimes do to which helo I was assigned and the score would change as our after action reports were filed. Control had the numeric and used it to validate a call if they were unsure of who they had on coms during the mission. Most the time you could recognize the voice over the radio but sometimes the static and chatter made it fuzzy and then we'd ask for validation. I don't know if they still use the tear cards but we also had a card that covered the week it listed seven days of alpha and numeric code. When we got it it was sealed and you had to tear the perforated strip off the top and it gave Sunday through Saturday code validations and frequency lists.

readytoescape profile image

readytoescape 7 years ago from Central Florida


Great background story, you are the man! No reason the even think about considering anything but Hmrjmr1.

GusTheRedneck 7 years ago

Big John - You surely are a fun guy who had some serious accomplishments.

Gus :-)))

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Ivori - Much Thanks! Tequila clears the Dust real good (wish we could have used it in Iraq) MWR Folks are a great dedicated team that serves the soldier from home base to the FOB's Hooah!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

50 cal, was much the same until the Gulf War, Secure comm got a lot better, though I still had to carry a CEOI. Now with secure comms the alpha numeric code call signs have pretty much gone away and Call signs (Handles) are assigned to Company level, (Enforcers, bonecrushers, etc), my last one in the Army mt two favorites were Vagabond 3 alpha and Ringmaster 7, (First Sergeant). In Iraq I also was a Playa 3. Olympic 2, and others that escape me at the moment. But for now I'll always be a Hammer Jammer. Have a Happy New Year my Brother! Hoooah!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

RTE - Thanks for stopping by my friend Hoooah!

Gus - It was a great Team! Hooah!

Thank you both for stopping by and GBY in the New year!!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 7 years ago from United States

Good explanation on moniker. My husband had talked of the Haandlesa they had in the Vietnam war. I read several of your comments and like the way you write.

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Pamela99 - Thank you so much for stopping by and your hubby for his service, so appreciate you kind words God Bless you and your Hubby in the New Year!

Jess Killmenow profile image

Jess Killmenow 7 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

This was great insight into your experience in Iraq. We are all fortunate that you shared it with us. Thank you!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks Jess It was great fun hard work and at times a BLAST! lol :D

ehern33 profile image

ehern33 7 years ago

Really enjoyed reading your background and explanation. never been in the military but have reat admiration for everyone who has given so much to this great nation. Without you guys and gals, the story may have been written so differently. Bless all of you and thanks for your service. Happy New Year!!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

ehern - Thank yo so much for your kind words. God Bless you and Have a Happy New Year!

Army Infantry Mom profile image

Army Infantry Mom 7 years ago

Thats a Great story,.. So glad you shared it with everybody. Not everyday we get a chance to meet those that makes such a HUGE difference like you have. I am so glad our Military Service Members have you,.. You are insperational with unique leadership qualities !!!!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Just an Old Soldier looking after what he loves, Thanks AIM GBY!

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia

Wonderful hub. Thank you for serving!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

habee I was blessed with a great team and a great mission, Thanks

Mikel G Roberts profile image

Mikel G Roberts 7 years ago from The Heartland

Nice Hub, I bet your still finding dust in places huh...lol

I am proud of you, Your time 'over there'...nuff said.


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 7 years ago from Lone Star State

It is refreshing to know that some people actually take pride in what they do. I know very little about the military, but I do admire all that the people that serve for our country. Thanks for sharing apart of your life


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

I did wonder about this. So thanks for not leaving us hanging. Mine you ask? The BK stands for Brooklyn, as in one of the 5 boroughs of New York City - and Creative - it is actually such a creative place and I have been insprired many times. When I moved here I was amazed at all the creativity (that hustling spirit) of the people.

Ok, now to check out your recipes!

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

HCP - Much Thanks!1

BKC- Thanks for the info looking forward to checking out your hubs as well, as for the Recipes, Do Enjoy!!

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ralwus 6 years ago

You be jammin for sure Bigfoot! Keep up the good work and be safe as well. Peace and love brother. CC

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

ralwus - And to you my friend! Thanks for stopping by!

AEvans profile image

AEvans 5 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Now I understand and thank you so much for serving our Country! :D I also wondered what your name meant and I am glad it was revealed. :)

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 5 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thank you for your kind words ma'am. Appreciate your stopping by.

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