Why is it that soldiers in Hollywood movies always have nicknames? In my time in the Guard, including an Iraq deployment, very very few soldiers have ever had nicknames. It didn't matter that a guy was 6'7", or that he was overweight and had one leg two inches longer than the other, or that he was likely retarded, or that he used to be homeless and made money by volunteering for medical experiments. People just used their last name anyway... The only exceptions that I can think of are Behbehani (nobody could pronounce his name, so they called him "BB"), our former Sergeant Major (he introduced himself as "Shorty Pimp"), and one strange soldier that insisted on being called "Spanky." Others might have a nickname for a few days or weeks around the barracks, but those nicknames never became widespread. Out of hundreds/thousands of soldiers that I've known, only three went by a handle other than their own name. In books, movies, newspaper articles, and even some veteran's accounts, everybody gets a nickname though. Big John, Iceman, Joker, Elephant, Tex, etc. etc. Anybody been in a unit where the Hollywood stereotype is actually true?