Pilots and other military types say
“roger” to acknowledge receipt of a message or instructions. “Roger”
at one time was the phonetic designation for the letter R, which in turn stood for
“received.” Why not just say "received"? From a safety perspective, it makes sense
to use standardized language, particularly when dealing with international operations.
The use of “roger” isn't all that old. In the
military's phonetic alphabet, "roger" didn't become the designation for R until
1927. (Previously the designation had been "rush.")
In 1957 "roger" was replaced by "romeo," the
current designation, but by then "roger" = "received" was so entrenched that the
brass knew better than to try and change it.
As for Roger’s last name, “wilco” dates from the same time, and is simply an
abbreviation of “will comply.” So the pilot who invokes our friend Roger Wilco
is saying “I understand you, and will follow your instructions,” only cooler and