Went out to the base this morning (180th Fighter Wing) to talk with Beth for bit. There were two airmen (Security Police) on duty at the gate when I drove up for an ID check. It looked like a new airman and her supervisor. After checking my ID the young airman waved me through with a nice smile. But a ‘nice smile’ doesn’t cut it – not in my Air Force. It is Military and Air Force custom and courtesy to render a salute to an officer; whether that officer be an active duty officer or a retired officer.
I hesitated a moment, thinking the senior airman might “break the code,” but he didn’t. In previous incidents like this, I have driven on, saying nothing. But today I didn’t. And not anymore.
At first I asked if there was a “moratorium on saluting.” When I saw the confusion in their eyes I took a simpler approach and explained a little bit about military custom and courtesy. From their demeanor, they knew what I was talking about…
After my short but firm one-sided discussion, they both came to attention and saluted. It was almost if they were embarrassed; they knew. And that was that.
(Of note, last week I was out in Albuquerque for a meeting. I stayed on Kirkland AFB. Every time I passed through the gate I was stopped for an ID card check. And every time the airman rendered a snappy salute, as is the custom. Often I was told, “Thank you for serving, Sir.”)
I think, for my part, if I allow ‘disrespect’ to go unchallenged it directly leads to incidents like these two. First,
and then this,