Don’t like yelling in formation? Well, you can blame one soldier from World War II for all those early morning sing-alongs.
Pvt. Willie Duckworth was a young soldier at Fort Slocum, New York in May, 1944, whose unit was dragging their feet during a march. To pep his brothers up, he began calling a chant to hep the men keep in step and to give them more energy.
The chant was an instant hit on base. The next year, the Army worked with recording engineers to make a V-Disc, a special recording distributed during World War II to aid morale. It was known as the “Duckworth Chant,” on base, but it was recorded and distributed as “Sound Off.”
Many of the traits of today’s calls are apparent in this first cadence. There is a back and forth between the caller and the formation, the lines are catchy, and Jody even makes an appearance (at 2:15 in the video above).
The chant’s fame worked out very well for Duckworth. He received royalty checks for the recordings and used them to start a successful pulpwood company he operated until his death in 2004. A section of Georgia highway near Duckworth’s former home has been renamed the Willie Lee Duckworth Highway and a granite marker was erected at the county courthouse.
Now, if only we could find the evil genius who came up with “C-130 rollin’ down the strip.”