By Andy Weddington
Thursday, 07 November 2019
Pride and Discipline - The Hallmarks of a United States Marine
For the first time since being retired nearly 14 years (my wife for a month) came occasion for us to visit an Army post.
That visit was Saturday past because my wife was guest speaker at a Navy (tenant) change of command between Navy Captains.
A funny thing, bothersome actually, happened, twice, when entering Gate 1, Fort Gordon, Georgia.
For sanity check, we engaged with a few retired officer friends - Marine, Navy, and Army. The Army officer opined he'd never heard of such nonsense and suggested contacting the garrison commander.
I took his advice.
Next under is the exchange with the garrison command.
As names not important, I removed them.
Do note, however, the garrison commander was too busy to reply, and I was addressed as "Mr." (deductively, not an oversight) in the reply salutation.
ICE submission (via Fort Gordon's website) addressed to the garrison commander ...
Comment: For Colonel (name removed) ... My wife, Rear Admiral (name removed) USN (Ret - as of 01 Oct 2019), and I were aboard Fort Gordon for an official Navy function (change of command) Sat, 03 Nov. She was in uniform, and I coat & tie. As 100% ID check, handed soldier/sentry both IDs (Retired USN and Retired USMC). Sentry glanced and returned ID's. No greeting. No salute. Nothing. I questioned. He said, "We do not salute retirees." Fast forward six hours. Returned to base. Different soldier/sentry. Both IDs. Only difference he had side arm. Again, no greeting, no salute. Again, I questioned. He said, "We do not salute when under arms nor retirees." Never have we run into this at any base, any service. What has become of basic customs and courtesies and professionalism? We mentioned the encounter to Captain (name removed) USN who was more than surprised. We queried senior officer Army retirees last evening who said it was absurd, nothing they'd ever encountered nor heard of, and to contact the base commander. For the first time, we (aggregate of 65+ years uniformed service) did not feel welcome aboard a base. Disheartening. With the logic of those sentries (that policy, if that's what it is), a retired four-star visiting Fort Gordon would not merit a salute. I'd sure like to witness that engagement. We'd sure appreciate explanation. Thank you. Colonel Andy Weddington, USMC (Ret)
From the garrison command ...
CSM (Command Sergeant Major),
The comment below was addressed directly to the GC regarding the saluting of retirees.
04 Nov 19
12:50 PM CT
Office of the Garrison Commander (Fort Gordon)
Good evening. I would like to start by stating, I'm certain the gate guards meant no disrespect by not saluting you and/or Rear Admiral (Ret) Weddington. They were simply following regulation.
IAW [In Accordance With] AR [Army Regulation] 600-25, paragraph 2-1, I (below), service members are not required to salute any officer (active duty or retired) while either the junior or senior individual is in civilian clothing. If the more senior active duty officer is in uniform, the uniformed junior individual would salute, whether they are a guard/sentry under arms or not. However, the regulation (AR 600-25) does not require service members to salute retired officers in uniform. That said, an Installation Senior Commander (SC) may make an installation policy requiring service members to salute retired officers in uniform. At this time, I have not seen such a policy from the SC for Fort Gordon; however, I will review this with the installation CSM.
i. [sic] Salutes are not required to be rendered or returned when the senior or subordinate or both are-
(1) In civilian attire.
(2) Engaged in routine work if the salute would interfere.
(3) Carrying articles with both hands so occupied as to make saluting impractical.
(4) Working as a member of a detail or engaged in sports or social functions where saluting would present a safety hazard.
I hope this fully addresses your ICE comment. Best wishes.
And in reply to the Command Sergeant Major ...
Appreciate the reply. Thank you.
Any Army officer - active, reserve, retired, in uniform or not - upon presentation of ID when entering a Navy or Marine Corps base is extended the professional courtesy of a welcome greeting and salute. Most recently, for two and a half years, we resided aboard Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska and such was likewise practiced.
Forgive our presumption there’s common DoD standard for such a simple gesture of military respect.
Colonel A. F. Weddington, U. S. Marines (Ret)
For sundry reasons, bewildered; still. Disappointed. But anymore - aging though not curmudgeonly so - nothing surprises me.
How, and why, is it the hand salute, the most basic and simple military gesture - of greeting, of mutual respect between junior and senior (duty status moot) that takes mere seconds to mutually render - is seemingly a burden to soldiers?
Damn, I love Marines! Sailors, too! And am proud to be in the ranks - smartly returning the sentry's salute when boarding base or camp.