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NEWS | Oct. 28, 2011

Military customs, courtesies are life-long traditions

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Protocol Office

Customs and courtesies are a large part of military culture and are profoundly rooted in pride and tradition. Servicemembers sometimes need to be reminded of the appropriate action to take in a given situation whether it is saluting or paying his or her respects during the national anthem.

Saluting is one of the most frequently-used customs. The act is deeply ingrained in military culture. Salutes are exchanged as a respectful greeting between members of both U.S. and foreign armed services. The junior member renders a salute upon recognition to the senior member and, as is Air Force custom, offers a verbal greeting.

It is also required to salute properly-marked staff vehicles. Execute a salute upon recognition of an occupied vehicle which has rank displayed and hold the salute until the salute is returned or the vehicle passes.

Paying respect to our nation's flag and national anthem also requires a salute. There are required actions all servicemembers - whether active duty, Guard or Reserve - must take if outdoors during the playing of "Reveille" and "Retreat" on military installations.

Stop and face the flag when the flag is visible - or face the source of the music when the flag is not visible - and come to parade rest when "Reveille" or "Retreat" begins playing across the public address system. Servicemembers are to stand at attention and salute if in uniform - or place his or her hand over his or her heart if in civilian clothes - at the first note of the national anthem or "To The Colors." Drop the salute once the last note is played. Pull to the side of the road if driving and sit quietly until the last note of music.

There are other courtesies to keep in mind on a day-to-day basis. Always give the senior ranking member the position of honor when walking - to the right and/or in front. Stand and, if more than one person is in the room, call the room to attention when a senior officer enters. Any servicemember should stand as a sign of respect when talking to a senior member.

Reference publications such as Air Force Pamphlet 36-2241 in the Professional Development Guide for more information and guidance on customs and courtesies.