Challenging Disrespect

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,

abc_national_guard_140219_wgI can’t change the whole Air Force: but I can challenge “disrespect” when I encounter it.  And I will.

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