Gotcha's & Turtles

About Wally
Skyray-The Movie
Test Pilot
Sigma VII
Gemini VI
Apollo VII
Gotcha's & Turtles
Schirra's Space
USNS Wally Schirra



What's A Gotcha??

As I understand it, the first game of gotcha was played on a golf course. A pro had been challenged by a duffer.  "How can you possibly compete with me?" asked the pro. "Well," said the duffer, "I'd like a slight advantage. I'd like to have two gotchas." "Fair enough," said the pro. "Is that like two strokes?" "Very much the same," said the duffer. On the eighth green the pro, who was comfortably ahead, bent to putt. Suddenly the duffer took his putter and goosed the pro, who hit the ball clear off the green and blew the hole. "That," said the duffer, "is my first gotcha," and he went on to win the match.

Obviously, the key to the gotcha game is expectation.




drawing courtesy of Colin Burgess


Turtles are bright eyed, bushy tailed, fearless and unafraid folk with a fighter pilot attitude. They think clean, have fun a  lot, and recognize the fact that you never get any place worthwhile in life unless you stick your neck out.

The "Turtles" are indeed an illustrious group and include in their membership ranks some of the country's foremost leaders in the fields of government, finance, entertainment, aerospace and all other areas where aggressiveness, a feeling for fair  play, clean thoughts and a sense of humor are keys to success.

Started by a group of test pilots during the 2nd World War, the club has progressed to its present position as one whose membership is diligently sought after and highly esteemed by those lucky enough to be initiated. Adherence to the creed and always giving the password when asked are the only responsibilities placed on our membership. You will find that life is more fun and takes on new meaning when you are a "Turtle". 



Once upon a time, many years ago there was a man who was of good and noble character; without a trace of impurity in his thoughts. Unfortunately all about him he saw persons with vulgar minds unable to think  of anything, except in sexual terms. He bemoaned his inability to find others with a similar highmindness, to his own. Like a turtle, he retreated into his shell. Then one day, while partaking of a pint of ale (for purely medicinal purposes of course), he realized that there must be others like him. Forced into bars, and saloons; imbibing alcohol as a balm for the ills inflicted by obscene and vulgar persons.

He resolved to locate all the other pure minded individuals that he could, even if this meant spending his every waking hour crawling from one bar to the next. This was the beginning of the Turtles. He embarked upon this quest with vigor and determination, but, since he was a man of limited means, quickly ran out of money.

Then one day, he got a tip on a horse running at long odds at the local track. The problem was that he had no money left with which to gamble. So, in desperation he wagered his last and most prized possession a donkey which he had raised from birth.  Now this donkey was a particularly gentle and temperate animal, with a loving disposition. To lose his donkey would have been devastating, and yet what choice was there if the quest was to continue? Fortunately, he won the wager, and with the money was able to continue in his search for many more years, and begin the association of Turtles we know today.

And so, to commemorate this event, all members of this esteemed organization when asked, "Are You a Turtle?", must respond immediately without hesitation or fear of embarrassment, in a voice as loud and clear as the voice of the questioner: "You bet your sweet ass, I am" Failure to do so at anytime, will be penalized by having to buy a beer for everyone close enough to have heard the original question.

Part of the Turtle Initiation:

      I.     We assume all prospective Turtles own a Jack Ass.  This assumption  is the reason for the password.  This password must  be given if you are ever asked by a fellow member, "Are you A  Turtle?"  You MUST then reply, "with the secret password."  If  you do not give the password in full because of embarrassment  or some other reason, you forfeit a beverage of his choice.  So always remember the password given to you at your initiation!

     II.    To become an official Turtle you must first solve the following riddles:

1.  What is it that a man can do standing up, a women sitting down, and a dog on three legs?

2.   What is it that a cow has four of and a woman has only two of?

3.   What is a four-letter word ending in "K" that means the same as intercourse?

4.   What is it on a man that is round, hard and sticks so far out of his pajamas you can hang a hat on it?

At three minutes into my Mercury flight, when we were still in the Atlas boost phase, Deke Slayton came on the radio with a question I didn't quite expect.  "Hey, Wally, are you a turtle?". Of course I knew the answer, but we were on live radio, and I wasn't  ready for all the world to hear it. So I switched my mike to voice record, uttered my reply, clicked back and said to Deke. "Rog".

After splashdown, several of us were in the admiral's quarters on the recovery ship, Kearsarge. Walt Williams, in his fast-chatter way of talking, demanded to know what my answer to Deke had been. I flipped on the flight recorder and there it was: "Wally are you a turtle?" "You bet your sweet ass I am."

After Gordon Cooper's flight in May 1963, we were all in the White House. This time, it was JFK's turn, and I was the one he nailed. "By the way, Wally, are you a turtle?" I had to think twice before saying, "You bet your sweet ass.." to the president of the United States.

Deke Slayton Gotcha
From Apollo 7



Gene Cernan [Apollo 17] Gotcha
Cosmosphere - 2004

I had the Cosmosphere help me with a Gotcha for Gene Cernan. At a 2004 meeting, Cernan was greeted by his life-sized bronze statue done up with silver foil to recreate my Mercury suit.
Wally Schirra - The Last Man On The Moon

Gotcha, Geno!

Sigma 7 Gotcha
[They got ME this time around]

Before I flew on Sigma 7, Gordon Cooper and Jim Rathman, the Indy racer, arranged to put a miniature, airplane catering sized, bottle of Cutty Sark Scotch and one row of Tarryton cigarettes way in the back of a compartment in the instrument panel. The attitude control handle had a "remove before flight" tag on it as well. I drank the Scotch as soon as I had a chance on board the recovery carrier. The medics all wondered why I had a small alcohol level in my post flight blood tests! I guess a nicotine level would have really thrown them! I still have the row of cigarettes, and the tag.

A great gotcha! I enjoy being had, too!


For more funny stories about Gotcha's and Turtle's please read the book
"The Real Space Cowboys"
by Ed Buckbee and Wally Schirra


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