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The Power of the Hand Salute

 I’ve known many Enlisted guys who hated to salute officers. They would duck out of the path of an oncoming Officer or go completely out of their way to avoid saluting one.

 This was not the case for me.

Early in my enlistment and before going to Vietnam, I was returning from the laundry with my clean starched Utilities, when suddenly a Brigadier General appeared in my peripheral and heading in my direction. I had both hands full so I gave way and came to attention, but I didn’t Salute. 

A little while later the SGT Major flagged me down and read me the riot act for not saluting the general. After a major ASS chewing, the SGT Major told me something that stayed with me the rest of my Enlistment.

The SGT Major said "I know saluting can sometimes be a pain in the ass but look at this way and Saluting will become very enjoyable".

"As an Enlisted man, you are required to Salute all officers, regardless of rank or branch of service".

"The regulation requires that an Officer return every Salute, in the same manor as presented. If an enlisted person does not feel as though the returned salute was appropriate based on regulation, you can require another exchange". 

"This places you, the Enlisted Man, in control of every Salute exchange, the snappier your Salute is, the snappier the Return Salute has to be".

I thought about this for a while and it made sense. From that point on, I really enjoyed Saluting officers.

When I became an MP, I developed a sort of “Wave through Salute System”  for traffic duty. It was a sure fire system whereby you could keep the proper traffic flow and at the same time never Fuck up and miss saluting an Officer.

It was your basic wave through except I would bring my hand up and finish with a salute. 

Shit, I had everyone saluting me, Sailors, Officers Wives, Officers Kids, even civilian base workers.

When the civilian workers initiated their first “Sentry of the Month” program, I received the honors.

My best advice to the Active Duty Marines is to Salute sharply and Salute often.

The Hand Salute is the Enlisted persons most powerful tool for both showing and commanding respect.

 I Salute you all

 Semper Fi,