2nd Infantry Division
Intelligence Detachment B
Mungo’s Under-Eye Mission
CQ Shack, Dongducheon, South Korea
0200 hours Sierra
Comment of the Moment: “I’ll stab your eyes out.”
Mungo commanded, “Everyone at ease, shut the hell up and listen up. We’ve got the MPs headed to Mama-san Ajumma’s to see if she’s okay. Now that we’ve gotten all of the spyware shit out of the way, maybe we can conduct our briefing.”
He began, “Colonel Spence said that Captain Aleumdaun,” he struggled with the pronunciation of the name, “has some overlays important to this mission, so, Captain, if you would?”
She explained, “First, I know that in Korea, unlike America, a person’s family name is mentioned first. Since my family name is difficult for you to pronounce, I want you to call me by my given name. It is pronounced Yeoja,” she pronounced it in Korean. “Since even that is difficult, I changed it in America. At MIT, I went by Georgia for my given name ‘Yeoja.’ I want all of you to call me Georgia when you speak to me or about me.
“If your culture and manners do not permit you to address me that way, then for my family name, please call me Captain Aleumdaun.”
The members of the team looked at each other and practiced pronouncing both names.
Slover stared silently at her. To himself he thought, “Token ROK member. Token female, too. Worthless!”
Mungo growled, “Bullshit! Captain, it’s against military courtesy for enlisted to call officers by their first names, to their faces anyway. We might refer to them by their first names when we are in a group by ourselves, or we might use other more descriptive terms,” he smiled, “when we’re angry with them. But we just can’t break military courtesy and call them by their first names.
“We can call you Captain ‘Dawn,’ like the last part of your name sounds to us.”
She hesitated, “Sergeant Major Mungo, I don’t...” She hesitated again. She sighed, “Okay, that will be fine, Sergeant Major Mungo.” She paused and asked, “Just out of curiosity, May I ask what your name means?”
He said, “Certainly, my name, ‘Mungo,’ is Kenyan. My family name comes from that fucking furry little mammal that eats cobras. The little bastard is the Mongos Mungo, the banded mongoose. It is, like myself, fucking fast, tres vite.” He used the French words for “very quick.”
Slover, when Mungo began cursing, said, “Top, there’s a lady present.”
Mungo said, “Aw, shit.”
Aleumdaun smiled and said, “Thank you.”
Mungo asked, “By the way, what the hell does your family name, Aleumdaun, mean?”
Aleumdaun blurted, “Oh no! I’m sorry; I should never have asked the meaning of your name.”
Slover smiled, “Oh, come on. Turn-about is fair play. Isn’t it?”
She begged, “Please, no! The translation is too embarrassing.”
The team around the table joined Slover in encouraging Aleumdaun to tell the meaning of her name.
Reluctantly, and so that she would able to bond with the team, she agreed to tell them. She said, “My family name, loosely translated, means ‘Lovely,’ and my given name means ‘girl.’”
My parents were very Avant Garde at a time when it wasn’t politically correct. They moved to America to give me my name. In Korea, the rule had been to use one of the five traditional clan names.
“Besides the “Lovely” translation, Koreans sometimes misuse the last name to mean ...