John Kelly, the retired U.S. Marine Corps general who has been serving as the White House chief of staff since late July, had been heralded as one of the “adults in the room” in the chaotic Trump administration. For some people that assessment changed after Kelly made an emotional speech last Thursday defending Trump and attacking Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson in a dispute over the president’s condolence call to one of Wilson’s constituents. During the call, Wilson said, Trump told the shocked widow of slain soldier La David Johnson that her husband “must have known what he was signing up for.” Kelly disparaged Wilson as an “empty barrel.”
Outraged active and former members of the U.S. armed services responded swiftly on Twitter with a hashtagged military epithet that must have struck many civilians as mysterious: “BlueFalcon.”
What does #BlueFalcon mean? The clue lies in the initials: “Blue Falcon” is an all-branches military euphemism for “buddy fucker.”
“Buddy fucker” – someone who betrays a close friend or comrade in arms – has been around for at least half a century, and appears to have civilian roots. In his definitive lexicon The F Word, Jesse Sheidlower cites a 1966 entry in Folk-Speech, from the Indiana University Folk Archives: “Denotes asking a friend for money.” Citations from 1968 through 1972 came from college students; the term could describe someone who “takes someone else’s date away,” “turns around and shafts people,” or “lets somebody down.”
How and when “buddy fucker” became “Blue Falcon” is uncertain; the only entry in Urban Dictionary is from 2003, which is also the year of the only citation for it in The F Word. Sheidlower found “Blue Falcon” in Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point, published in 2003 by David Lipsky, who defined it as “a polite way to invoke the initials BF – a buddy fuck.” Lipsky quotes a West Point cadet addressing a group of plebes: “You sit in your room and get by scot-free while your friends take the heat instead of you? That’s called a Blue Falcon, and this place ain’t about Blue Falcons!”
The brilliant thing about “Blue Falcon” is that it sounds like the opposite of its meaning: virtuous, patriotic, and gallant. And it sounds military, like the name of a flying squadron (compare the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels) or a combat operation (compare Desert Falcon, a Patriot missile defense of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Kuwait in the 1990s and early 2000s). All of that makes it a perfect euphemism. (Blue Falcon has also been adopted as police-department jargon, along with the innocuous-sounding Adam Henry, initial-slang for asshole.)
Blue Falcon is the name of a new card game, funded by Kickstarter, that was created by a team of active-duty and veteran military personnel. According to a description in Board Game Geek, “Players strive to draw as many cards as possible, while limiting the hand draws of their friends/enemies. The goal is to gain the Blue Falcon card and strike when your friend can’t defend themselves and are eliminated from the game. The last person standing is the ultimate Blue Falcon and champion of the now friendless masses.”
Coincidentally (one hopes), Blue Falcon is also the name of a character in the short-lived Hanna-Barbera cartoon series “Dynomutt, Dog Wonder,” which originally aired in the 1976–1977 season. Dynomutt is a mechanical dog; the Blue Falcon is the superhero alter ego of “millionaire socialite art dealer Radley Crown” (ah, the 1970s).