An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | April 10, 2009

It's Often the Little Things

By Col. David C. Geuting 89th Airlift Support Group Commander

Often in "From The Top," we write about large concepts like Integrity, Service, and Excellence. While these are important, and serve as the foundation for our service's core values, it is often the little things we do that truly define us as professionals. Recently Col. Clair Gilk wrote in this column about common courtesy and its contagious nature. I would like to continue his theme and carry it a little further.

In the 89th Airlift Support Group, we try to follow some simple rules. In our minds, these rules are not much different from what our parents taught us while growing up. We just take them to a different level. Proper salutes and greetings are critical parts of these rules.

Our Air Force guidance states, "The hand salute is the form of greeting and recognition exchanged between persons in the Armed Services. All Air Force personnel in uniform are required to salute when they encounter any person or situation entitled to the salute. When the salute is rendered to another person, the junior member initiates the salute accompanied with an appropriate verbal greeting, e.g., Good morning, Sir/Ma'am. Salute and extend the verbal greeting at a distance at which recognition is easy and audible. Offer your salute early enough to allow the senior time to return it and extend a verbal greeting before you pass." On Andrews, when you see a superior officer of any service approaching, stand up straight and pop that salute. At the same time, initiate an appropriate greeting loud and clear. Others will notice your example and will copy your professionalism.

Our instruction goes on to state, "When the salute is rendered to a senior officer in a vehicle, hold the salute until it is returned by the officer or after the vehicle has passed." Walking on Andrews requires constant situational awareness. In addition to base leaders, the President of the United States, and many other of our nation's leaders, drive on base. Your salute to all their vehicles may seem minor to you, but the professionalism you display will reflect positively on your organization, your service and our military.

Finally, the Air Force Instruction states, "Juniors shall show deference to seniors by recognizing their presence and by employing a courteous and respectful bearing and mode of speech toward them." Here is where the little things really come into play. Day to day, in our work places and around base, familiarity with higher ranking officials may breed complacency. As a result, we may allow our military bearing to slip. Specifically, we do not use the appropriate forms of address. Employing casual greetings and not using "sir" or "ma'am" when greeting or addressing your superiors detracts from otherwise professional behavior.

As Colonel Gilk said, "Common courtesy is contagious. The more we practice it, the more likely we are to see it practiced by others." The same can be said for military courtesy. These little things define us as professional military members. They are contagious and they are habit forming. Let's get back to the basics of our profession and visibly demonstrate what it means to be a member of America's military. While it may seem like a little thing, it will make all of Team Andrews look more professional.