Published on February 28, 2008
Customs and Courtesies: Customs and Courtesies USNSCC Columbus Division Customs and Courtesies: Customs and Courtesies This lesson is divided into 3 modules: Lesson 1 - Introduction to Customs and Courtesies Lesson 2 – Colors and Flags Lesson 3 – Military Etiquette Lesson 1 – Introduction to Customs and Courtesies: Lesson 1 – Introduction to Customs and Courtesies Customs and Courtesies Introduction: Customs and Courtesies Introduction The Military has a long history. Traditions have been established over time Learning about some of these traditions will help you to understand the military better. Traditions are broken down into Customs Courtesies What is a Custom?: What is a Custom? A custom is a way of acting— Customs are regular, expected actions. They have been performed consistently over such a long period that they have become like law. What is a Courtesy?: What is a Courtesy? A courtesy is a form of polite behavior and excellence of manners. Courteous actions show your concern and respect for others and for certain objects or symbols, such as the American flag. What is the purpose of Military customs?: What is the purpose of Military customs? Customs and courtesies help make life orderly and are a way of showing respect. The use of customs, courtesies, and ceremonies helps keep discipline and order in a military organization. From time to time, situations arise that are not covered by written rules. Conduct in such cases is governed by customs of the service. Customs are closely linked with tradition, and much esprit de corps of the naval service depends on their continued maintenance. What are the purposes of Military Courtesies?: What are the purposes of Military Courtesies? When a person acts with courtesy toward another, the courtesy is likely to be returned. We are courteous to our seniors because we are aware of their greater responsibilities and authority. We are courteous to our juniors because we are aware of their important contributions to the Navy’s mission. Military courtesy is important to everyone in the Navy. If you know and practice military courtesy, you will make favorable impressions and display a self-assurance that will carry you through many difficult situations. The Salute: The Salute One required act of military courtesy is the salute. Regulations governing its use are founded on military custom deeply rooted in tradition. The salute is a symbol of respect and a sign of comradeship among service personnel. The salute is simple and dignified; there is great significance in that gesture. It is a time-honored demonstration of courtesy among all military personnel that expresses mutual respect and pride in the service. Never resent or try to avoid saluting persons entitled to receive the salute. The most common form of salute is the hand salute. The Hand Salute: The Hand Salute The hand salute began in the days of chivalry when it was customary for knights dressed in armor to raise their visors to friends for the purpose of identification. Because of the relative position of rank, the junior was required to make the first gesture. In the U.S. Navy, it’s reasonable to believe that the hand salute came from the British navy. There is general agreement that the salute as now rendered is really the first part of the movement of uncovering. Rendering the Hand Salute while in Civilian Clothes: Rendering the Hand Salute while in Civilian Clothes The way you render the hand salute depends on whether you are in civilian clothes or in uniform. Personnel in civilian clothes render the salute in two ways: Hat in front of the left shoulder (men only) Right hand over the heart (men without hats; women with or without hats) Rendering the Hand Salute while in Uniform: Rendering the Hand Salute while in Uniform Except when walking, you should be at attention when saluting. Navy personnel salute the anthem, the flag, and officers as follows: Raise the right hand smartly until the tip of the forefingers touches the lower part of the headgear or forehead above and slightly to the right of the eye Extend and join the thumb and fingers. Turn the palm slightly inward until the person saluting can just see its surface from the corner of the right eye. The upper arm is parallel to the ground; the elbow is slightly in front of the body. Incline the forearm at a 45º angle; hand and wrist are in a straight line. Complete the salute (after it is returned) by dropping the arm to its normal Position in one sharp, clean motion Navy custom permits left-hand saluting When a salute cannot be rendered with the right hand. Rules of Saluting: Rules of Saluting The following are some of the major points you should remember when rendering a salute: If possible, always use your right hand. Use your left hand only if your right hand is injured. Use your left hand to carry objects and to leave your right hand free to salute Accompany your salute with a cheerful, respectful greeting; for example, “Good morning, sir”; “Good afternoon, Commander [Jones]” Always salute from the position of attention. If you are walking, you need not stop; but hold yourself erect and square. If on the double, slow to a walk when saluting Look directly into the officer’s eyes as you salute Rules of Saluting (continued): Rules of Saluting (continued) If you are carrying something in both hands and cannot render the hand salute, look at the officer as though you were saluting and render a verbal greeting as previously described Salute officers even if they are uncovered or their hands are occupied. Your salute will be acknowledged by a verbal greeting, such as “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” or something similar. Army and Air Force policy, unlike the Navy’s, is to salute when uncovered. Suppose you are in an office with several Army personnel, and all of you are uncovered. An officer enters and the soldiers rise and salute. You should do likewise; to do otherwise would make you seem ill-mannered or disrespectful. Rules of Saluting (continued): Rules of Saluting (continued) When approaching an officer, start your salute far enough away from the officer to allow time for your salute to be seen and returned. This space can vary; but a distance of about six paces is considered good for this purpose. Hold your salute until it is returned or until you are six paces past the officer. Remove a pipe, cigar, or cigarette from your mouth or hand before you salute Salute all officers who are close enough to be recognized as officers. It is unnecessary to identify an officer by name; however, ensure that he/she is wearing the uniform of an officer. Salute properly and smartly. Avoid saluting in a casual or perfunctory manner. A sharp salute is a mark of a sharp Sailor. Who to salute?: Who to salute? Salutes are rendered to all of the following officers: Navy and Navy Reserve Army and Army Reserve Air Force and Air Force Reserve Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Public Health Service Foreign military services Saluting Aboard Ship: Saluting Aboard Ship When boarding a ship that is flying the national ensign, all persons in the naval service must do the following: Stop on reaching the upper platform on the accommodation ladder or the shipboard end of the brow, Face the ensign, Salute, and Then salute the officer of the deck (OOD). On leaving the ship, personnel render the salutes in reverse order—first to the OOD and then to the national ensign. These salutes also are rendered aboard foreign men-of-war. When to Salute Officers: When to Salute Officers In a Group - If enlisted personnel and officers are standing together and a senior officer approaches, the first to see the senior should call out “Attention,” and all face the officer and salute. Overtaking - Never overtake and pass an officer without permission. If it becomes necessary for you to pass, you should do so to the left, salute when abreast of the officer, and ask, “By your leave, sir/ma’am?” The officer should reply, “Very well,” and return the salute. Reporting - When reporting on deck or out-of-doors ashore, you should remain covered and salute accordingly. When reporting in an office, you should uncover upon approaching the senior; therefore, you should not salute. Sentries - Sentries at gangways salute all officers going or coming over the side and when passing or being passed by officers close aboard in boats. When to Salute Officers: When to Salute Officers In Vehicles - You salute all officers riding in vehicles, while those in the vehicle both render and return salutes, as required. The vehicle’s driver salutes if the vehicle is stopped; to do so while the vehicle is in motion endangers the safety of the occupants and may be omitted. In Civilian Clothes - If you are in uniform and recognize an officer in civilian clothes, you should initiate the proper greeting and salute. In time of war, however, an officer not in uniform may be deliberately avoiding disclosure of his/her identity, so you should be cautious in following the normal peacetime rule. At Crowded Gatherings - At crowded gatherings or in congested areas, you normally salute only when addressing or being addressed by officers. Rifle Salutes - When armed with a rifle, you should use one of the three rifle salutes described in this section instead of the hand salute. Rifle Salutes: Rifle Salutes Present arms Rifle salute at order arms Rifle salute at right shoulder arms What are Honors?: What are Honors? Honors are salutes rendered to individuals of merit, such as recipients of the Medal of Honor, to high-ranking individuals, to ships, and to nations. Passing Honors: Passing Honors Passing honors are honors (other than gun salutes) rendered on occasions when ships, officials or officers pass in boats or gigs, or are passed (flag officers or above) close aboard. “Close aboard” means passing within 600 yards for ships and 400 yards for boats. Passing honors between ships, consisting of sounding “Attention” and rendering the hand salute by all persons in view on deck and not in ranks, are exchanged between ships of the Navy and between ships of the Navy and the Coast Guard passing close aboard. Signals for the actions required to be performed by personnel are as follows: One blast—Attention (to starboard) Two blasts—Attention (to port) One blast—Hand salute Two blasts—End salute Three blasts—Carry on Passing honors for the President of the United States and for rulers of foreign nations include manning the rail. Manning the rail consists of the ship’s company lining up at regular intervals along all weather deck rails. Gun Salutes: Gun Salutes Gun salutes are used to honor individuals, nations, and certain national holidays. Practically all shore stations have saluting batteries, but not all ships are so equipped. Whether aboard ship or ashore, you must be able to act properly whenever you hear a gun salute being rendered. The salutes always consist of an odd number of guns, ranging from 5 for a vice consul to 21 for the President of the United States and for rulers of foreign nations recognized by the United States. Military officers below the rank of commodore are not entitled to gun salutes. Normally, only one gun is fired at a time at intervals of about 5 seconds. During the salutes, persons on the quarterdeck, in the ceremonial party, or if ashore, render the hand salute. All other personnel in the vicinity (in the open) should stand at attention and, if in uniform, render the hand salute. Gun salutes also mark special occasions in our country’s history. On President’s Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day, a standard 21-gun salute is fired at 1-minute intervals, commencing at 1200. Thus, on these holidays, the salute ends at 1220. Lesson 2 – Colors and Flags: Lesson 2 – Colors and Flags What are Colors?: What are Colors? At commands ashore and aboard ships of the Navy not under way, the ceremonial hoisting and lowering of the national flag at 0800 and sunset are known as morning and evening colors. Every Navy shore command, and every ship not under way, performs the ceremony of colors twice a day. Flag Protocol: Flag Protocol Aboard Navy ships or naval shore activities, when the national ensign is hoisted and lowered or half-masted for any occasion, the motions of the senior officer present are followed. Five minutes before morning and evening colors, the PREPARATIVE pennant (called PREP) is hoisted. Ceremonies for colors begin when PREP is hauled to the dip (the halfway point). Navy ships not under way also hoist and lower the union jack on the jackstaff, at the ship’s bow, and at morning and evening colors. The union jack is also flown from a yardarm to denote that a general courts-martial or court of inquiry is in session. The union jack is the rectangular blue part of the United States flag containing the stars If a band is available for color ceremonies, “Attention” is sounded, followed by the band playing the national anthem. If a band is not available for colors, “To the Colors” is played on the bugle at morning colors, and “Retreat” is played at evening colors. For ships without a band or a bugler, “Attention” and “Carry on” are signals for beginning and terminating the hand salute. Shifting the Colors: Shifting the Colors Ships that are under way do not hold morning or evening colors because the ensign usually is flown day and night. Just as the ship gets under way, the ensign is shifted from its in-port position on the stern to its at-sea position at the mainmast. This is called shifting the colors. Why are Flags flown at Half-Mast?: Why are Flags flown at Half-Mast? National flags flown at half-mast (or half-staff ashore) are an internationally recognized symbol of mourning. The United States honors its war dead on Memorial Day by half-masting the flag from 0800 until the last gun of a 21-minute-gun salute that begins at noon (until 1220 if no gun salute is rendered). Normally, the flag is half-masted on receiving information of the death of one of the officials or officers listed in U.S. Navy Regulations. Notification may be received through news media reports or by an official message. Outdoor Display of the Flag: Outdoor Display of the Flag If the flag it is displayed outdoors after dusk, the flag should be properly illuminated Where is the flag flown 24 hours per day? Flag Displayed 24 Hours per Day: Flag Displayed 24 Hours per Day The Moon, Sea of Tranquility The Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The White House, Washington, D.C. U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. Iwo Jima Memorial to U.S. Marines, Arlington, Virginia Battleground in Lexington, MA (site of first shots in the Revolutionary War) U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Winter encampment cabins, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland (a flag flying over Fort McHenry after a battle during the War of 1812 provided the inspiration for The Star-Spangled Banner. The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Baltimore, Maryland (site where the famed flag over Fort McHenry was sewn) Jenny Wade House in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Jenny Wade was the only civilian killed at the battle of Gettysburg) All custom points and points of entry into the United States Folding the Flag: Folding the Flag To fold the flag correctly bring the striped half up over the blue field then fold again. Bring the lower striped corner to the upper edge, forming a triangle. The outer point is turned inward on the upper edge to form a second triangle. Continue to fold the flag in triangles until the entire length of the flag is folded. When the flag is completely folded only the blue field should be visible, and it should have the triangle shape of a cocked hat. Indoor Colors: Indoor Colors If the flag is not displayed when the anthem is played inside a building, you stand at attention facing the source of the music. If you are in uniform and covered, you render the hand salute; If you are not covered, you stand at attention. If you are in civilian clothes, render the hand-over-the-heart salute. Lesson 3 – Military Etiquette: Lesson 3 – Military Etiquette Military Etiquette: Military Etiquette The rules of behavior to be observed by Navy personnel at certain times, in specified places, and on certain occasions is collectively known as behavior. “Behavior,” in this case, means social conduct rather than strict military behavior, though the two sometimes are related. For passing through doorways, let the senior go first; if possible, hold the door for him or her. On meeting an officer in a passageway, step aside so the officer may pass. If other enlisted persons and/or junior officers are present, call out “Gangway” so everyone can make way for the senior officer. Juniors should show respect to seniors at all times by recognizing their presence and by being courteous and respectful in speech and manner. Juniors take the leftmost seat in a vehicle and walk on the left side of seniors whom they are accompanying. Behavior Aboard Ship: Behavior Aboard Ship There are rules of etiquette to follow during divine services, on the quarterdeck, or in officer’s country. When divine services are held on board ship, the following word is passed: “Divine services are being held in (such and such a space). The smoking lamp is out. Knock off all games and unnecessary work. Maintain quiet about the decks during divine services.” If you enter the area where divine services are being held, you must uncover even though you are on watch and wearing a duty belt. (Remain covered during Jewish ceremonies.) Another area in which special rules apply is the quarterdeck. The quarterdeck is not a specific deck; it is an area designated by the commanding officer to serve as the focal point for official and ceremonial functions. The quarterdeck, consequently, is treated as a “sacred” part of the ship; and you should obey the following rules: Don’t be loud or sloppy in its vicinity. Never appear on the quarterdeck unless you are in complete uniform. Never smoke or have coffee cups and soda cans or bottles on the quarterdeck. Never cross or walk on the quarterdeck except when necessary. Don’t lounge on or in the vicinity of the quarterdeck. When on the quarterdeck, salute whenever the quarterdeck watch salutes (as during a gun salute). Behavior Aboard Ship (continued): Behavior Aboard Ship (continued) Shore stations, as well as ships, have areas designated as the quarterdeck. The same rules apply in all cases. A messing compartment is where enlisted personnel eat; the wardroom is where officers eat. If you enter any of these areas while a meal is in progress, you must uncover. Officers’ country is the part of the ship where officers have their staterooms and wardrooms; CPO country is where the chief petty officers have their living spaces and mess. You must avoid entering these areas except on official business. Never use their passageways as thoroughfares or shortcuts. If you enter the ward room or any compartment or office of an officer or a CPO, you must remove your hat, unless you are on watch and wearing the duty belt. Always knock before entering an officer’s or a chief petty officer’s room. Addressing and Introducing Naval Personnel: Addressing and Introducing Naval Personnel Custom, tradition, and social change determine how members of the naval service are introduced. Although tradition and military customs generally hold true, there are some differences in methods of addressing and introducing military personnel, depending on whether you are in civilian or military circles. The proper forms of addressing and introducing naval personnel are summarized below. All officers in the naval service are addressed or introduced with the titles of their grades preceding their surnames. As a general rule, use the officer’s title and name. It is better to say, “Yes, Ensign Smith”; “No, Doctor Brown”; or “Yes, Lieutenant Jones”; than to say, “Yes, sir” or “No, ma’am.” Addressing and Introducing Naval Personnel: Addressing and Introducing Naval Personnel Aboard ship, the regularly assigned commanding officer is addressed as “captain” regardless of grade. The regularly assigned executive officer (if of the grade of commander) may be addressed as “commander” without adding the name. In some ships it is customary to address the executive officer as “commander” even though the grade is that of lieutenant commander. The only proper response to an oral order is “Aye, aye, sir/ma’am.” This reply means more than yes. It indicates “I understand and will obey.” Such responses to an order as “O.K., sir” or “All right, sir” are taboo. “Very well” is proper when spoken by a senior in acknowledgment of a report made by a junior, but a junior never says “Very well” to a senior. “Sir” or “Ma’am” should be used as a prefix to an official report, statement, or question addressed to a senior.