Salute Alley

You can always count on Wikipedia to have more than a three line definition or description. Take “saluting.” In fact, most days I would be happiest if the whole process was taken far, far away.

Usually a hand/arm combination of movements, a salute in the military is offered as a sign of respect with the obligation on the junior person to start the exchange of courtesies. The actual combination of hand, finger and arm positions vary by service and country. It can also vary by location and activity.

(Go read Wikipedia, just remember I am not discussing small arms and canons).

In the US Army, you don’t have to be in a uniform with a “cover,” i.e. hat or other head gear to have saluting required. Here on BAF, we are a salute area. ACUs, PTs, doesn’t matter. Even on a post this size, as rank goes up, numbers of individuals wearing that rank go down effectively meaning that just about everyone I pass on the street, alley or boardwalk is junior to me. (Generals are few on the ground and I have not yet seen any of them hiking anywhere).

Walking the boardwalk – the rather new, level, nice cement sidewalk that parallels Disney means that my right arm gets exercised, a lot. Even when most aren’t paying attention, it is pretty obvious to most of the young troops that I am “old.” Old and in uniform usually = senior. BAF reminds me of trying to walk across some of the areas of Ft Sam Houston where the students would spread themselves out so that every more senior officer walking in the area effectively would be walking a salute gauntlet.

Unlike KAF (Kandahar) where some wise person decided that with all the countries participating in ISAF and most not having a clue about other countries rank that much of the installation is “no salute.” Much of Mazar E Sharif is no salute, primarily because the German’s have declared a lot of it “no hat.” Since they have a no hat = no salute, they are off the hook. US military, of course, still wears covers and salutes.

Anyway, I was going somewhere with this.

The exceptions to “all salute, all the time” on BAF seem to be as follows:
1) It is too dark for anyone to read your rank
2) You are in PTs and they don’t know who you are.
3) You are actually doing PT.

Talking over to use the computer on my putative day off, I happily hiked along with sidewalk in my PTs (yes to both weapon and key) not saluting anyone. They are all in uniform. I know their rank, they don’t know mine. Not my issue on such a lovely day. This worked well until I passed someone from the unit.

She saluted. I returned the salute. The guys right behind her also saluted me, so I got to salute them back. And it started to snowball…..

Anonymity gone, it was time to bail off the main drag and take to the back ways.


Yes, there is no question that the smart thing to do would be to place my key on the chain with my dog tags. I have dog tags, they made extras for me at Ft Benning. But wear them around my neck? Yes, I should be doing that…….

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in deployment, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Salute Alley

  1. Steve says:

    Gee – i remember the no cover = no salute rule being applicable. When did that change? Salute alley at the Presidio of Monterey was just outside the gym during lunch break from language classes.

  2. Cheryl says:

    3 indicators that you have been in a while:
    1. The airmen biologically are young enough to be your child
    2. The captains are starting to look too young to have that degree of responsibility. (The lieutenants have always looked like kids to me)
    3. You are returning way more salutes than you initiate! 🙂

  3. Mary says:

    Your email today had me hysterically laughing!! Your right arm will soon look like Rafael Nadal’s left arm: the muscles in that arm are huge and his right arm is tiny in comparison!!

  4. Angeluna says:

    Complicated. Sounds like one could end up with a sore arm.

  5. Bruce says:

    We retirees don’t get saluted…but I do need to return salutes from gate guards at Navy & AF bases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.