Friday, May 23, 2014


Flying over the Naval Academy on my way into Lee Airport in Annapolis.
Getting saluted is weird, at first.

By the time a I was commissioned I had rendered thousands of salutes, but, in the beginning, receiving a salute felt strange. I remember thinking: yesterday I didn't rate this salute, today I do.

Then, when I was promoted to captain, it happened again. It felt strange when lieutenants saluted me but I quickly got used to it.

I hadn't thought much about getting saluted until ENS @B.E.N_DRT tweeted about it after he graduated from the Naval Academy earlier today.

How to Salute

As an enlisted Marine and a Midshipman I was intimidated by officers. Everyone is. In boot camp, my drill instructors were god and even they had to call officers, "Sir." It was best to avoid crossing paths with an officer whenever possible. Then, when I was a newly commissioned second lieutenant, I wasn't sure exactly how to return a salute in certain circumstances.

Salutes are suppose to be rendered within 30 paces of a senior officer. The problem is it can, at times, be awkward in crowded places like the PX or sometimes the junior doesn't notice the officer. Occasionally, a junior might intentionally ignore an officer's presence – as respectfully as possible – to avoid the awkward encounter. But, officers pickup on this and it's mildly disrespectful.

As an officer, I quickly figured out how to avoid these situations. I would preemptively greet the junior with a "How ya doing?" or "Good afternoon," – even before they saluted me. There's nothing saying that I couldn't greet a junior first. The only requirement is that they show respect by initiating a salute. I would always return their salute with a smile while looking them in the eye. Trust me, a junior greatly appreciates it when you acknowledge, rather than ignore, their presence.

Instead of waiting until a salute – or lack there of – escalates to the point of disrespect, just head it off at the pass.

Author: Joe Moreno

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