Customs, Courtesies Build Strong Air Force

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Standing at attention. Saluting officers. Respect for the flag.
Military customs and courtesies not only help to maintain order and build a foundation for self-discipline, they help to define who we are not only as Airmen, but as parts of the team on guard to defend American freedoms.

"A sharp salute by one of our Airmen reflects positively on the entire wing," said Master Sgt. Amanda Noble, executive assistant in the 127th Wing commander's office. "A sloppy salute, or worse, an Airmen who forgets to salute really makes all of us look bad."

Working in the commander's office, Noble often assists on protocol issues and has to be well-versed in the ins and outs of military etiquette. While dealing with customs and courtesies is an integral part of her job, she said it is important for every Airman to ensure they are rendering the appropriate courtesies.

"A lot of it is simply showing respect not only for the Air Force, but for the ideals we believe in as Airmen," she said. "When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of being extra courteous."

At Selfridge Air National Guard Base, there is periodically confusion about "no-hat" zones, where salutes are generally not rendered. The flightline and some work areas fall into this category.

Hats must be worn and salutes rendered in the parking lots and approach areas of the Selfridge Commissary, Base Exchange, Patriot Pub and similar areas. According to AFPAM 36-2241, The Air Force Professional Development Guide, salutes should be rendered by all enlisted personnel to all officers of the Air Force, as well as to all other U.S. military officers and to officers of friendly nations. Periodically, there are officers of other nations working on Selfridge and they should be saluted by enlisted personnel. In addition, junior officers should render a salute to senior officers.

According to the Guide, when military courtesies falter, discipline ceases to function, endangering mission accomplishment.

In addition to the salute, other common courtesies include allowing the senior person to enter a vehicle last and exit first; giving the senior person the position of honor when walking, riding or sitting; and use of courtesy titles such as "sir" or "ma'am."

The importance of military courtesies are taught to all Airmen from the very beginning of their military career. Members of the 127th Wing who enlisted directly into the wing from civilian life are given a leg up on learning many of these courtesies, even before they begin attending Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland. While awaiting a BMT date, new direct enlistees into the wing participate in the 127th Student Flight, where they spend one or more drill periods learning such basics as military etiquette, the rank structure and the chain of command.