We salute the Army crew who named their tank ‘Back Alley Sally’

When we come across this sweetheart in the wild, well, we just had to stop and take notice.

If there’s one thing we absolutely love here at Task & Purpose, it’s an aptly-named Army tank. From the whimsical (Barbie Dreamhouse) and the topical (Baby Yoda) to the honorary (Chuck Norris) and belligerent (Dropped As A Baby), the ingenuity and humor of the service’s elite classes of tankers knows no bounds.

So, of course, when we come across a sweetheart like “Back Alley Sally” in the wild, well, we just had to stop and take notice.

We salute the Army crew who named their tank ‘Back Alley Sally’
Back Alley Sally, ready to rumble. (U.S. Army photo)

This delightful M1 Abrams main battle tank belonging to B Company, 2-116th Combined Arms Battalion (CAB) from the Idaho Army National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team (CBCT), was recently featured in a series of Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) photos about recent exercises involving tank mine plows and mine rollers.

Now, in terms of raw creativity, ‘Back Alley Sally’ is certainly among one of the more unusual tank names we’ve encountered while scouring DVIDS late at night. But what exactly is, a ‘back alley Sally,’ you might be asking? It sounds horrible, frankly, like a derogatory nickname for a promiscuous peer or an overly-creative, never-used sexual maneuver.

According to the official tome of American slang known as Urban Dictionary, “back alley Sally” has three frequently-used definitions:

  • “A cheap hooker found in a worn-out area,” which sounds like the sort of loving name a bunch of E4s might give to a well-trod battlewagon after a deployment or two.
  • “To leave some sort of engagement (a party, bar, wedding reception, etc.) without saying goodbye or having anyone notice until well after you are gone,” which is more commonly known (at least to my Masshole face) as an ‘Irish goodbye.’
  • “To sneak up behind the opponent,” which also has positive connotations for the trundling pile of fucking metal that is an M1 Abrams.

Despite this, I’m convinced that this particular tank name has a more specific origin: a tribute to the beloved 1981 song by the same name by 38 Special about a crazy-eyed femme fatale and apparent sex worker. And since nobody’s around to tell me otherwise, I’ll just leave this here:

Here’s to you, crew of the Back Alley Sally: may all your missions prove fruitful and fearsome ensconced in your tank’s metal bosom.

Jared Keller

Jared Kelleris the executive editor of Task & Purpose. His writing has appeared in Aeon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post, among other publications. Contact the author here.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information