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The Salute!

As a reenactor, saluting is always one of those interesting topics. Some reenactors refuse to salute fellow reenactors who are portraying officers, after all, they are not 'real' officers or even in the Army. I was only ever 'ordered' to salute an 'officer once and I quietly told this jumped up goon where to stick his order. Not because I was ordered by an office who made it clear he hate me, but also when he told me to do it made no sense and therefore wasn't even in keeping with the role. This was many years ago and I can't stress enough that it was NOT in HQ Co. 502 PIR, 101st Div.

One of the most important of military courtesies is the salute. It is a respectful greeting, a sign of recognition between military persons.


It is that, and no more. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding about the salute, most of it on the part of people who don't know how soldiers feel about it. Many civilians completely misinterpret its purpose and meaning. They take it to be an acknowledgment of the soldier's inferiority to his superiors. Noting is further from the truth. Salutes are given and returned. They are a privilege of the military alone. Every officer salutes every other officer, just as every enlisted man salutes every officer. The highest-ranking general in the Army is required to return the salute of the greenest buck private. The fact that the subordinate salutes first is simply common-sense courtesy applied to a military expression; it is for the same reason that gentlemen step aside for ladies in doorways and younger people are introduced to their elders rather than the other way around.
The salute has an additional purpose. It is evidence of respect for authority. In the Army, an officer does not determine his own authority nor just assume as much of it as he feels he should have; his authority is prescribed and becomes his duty and responsibility whether or not he likes it. In saluting, you acknowledge respect for the position and authority of the officer who holds that position.

                        Persons to salute

You are required to salute all commissioned officer, both male and female, of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, and members of the Army and Navy Nurse Corps, and all warrent officers and flight officers. It is customary to salute officers of United Nations when you recognize them as such. Do not salute noncommissioned officers or petty officers.

                           How to salute

Make your salute smart and snappy. A half-hearted, sloppy salute gives you away as a raw recruit. Remember your dislike of a half-hearted handshake! The same principle applies to the salute.


To salute, raise your right hand smartly until the tip of your forefinger (index finger) touches your handgear, above and slightly to the right of your right eye. Keep your thumb and fingers extended and joined, palm to the left, with your hand and wrist straight. Hold your upper arm horizontal, and your forearm inclined at an angle of 45º. At the same time turn your head and eyes toward the person or flag you are saluting. Hold the salute until returned by the person, saluted, then drop your hand smartly to your side.


This is the regulation salute. Learn how to do it properly. Practice in front of a mirror. Don't give your salute any extra flourishes; that is simply bad taste.

When to Salute

From the Camp Crowder Central Signal Corps School Workbook

A. You ALWAYS Salute Out of Doors except under the following circumstances:

  1. You do not salute in ranks.

  2. You do not salute when on a work detail unless you are in charge of the detail.

  3. You do not salute when either you or the officer are engaged in Athletics.

  4. You do not salute when driving government vehicles.

  5. You do not salute -under simulated campaign condtions (except when reporting to an officer.)

B. You NEVER salute IN DOORS except when reporting to an officer or when under arms.

How to Salute

A. The Salute is rendered in a smart and military manner:

B. When you execute the Salute you turn your head so you can observe the Officer and look him straight in the eye:

C. The Saute is always rendered from the position of Attention:

How NOT to Salute

These are a few of the mistakes in Military Courtesy that Clem made during his first few weeks in Camp Crowder. Study them and be sure that You Don't Make the Same Mistake Yourself:

Clem Forgot to Take His Hat Off!
(Reporting Indoors - Always remove head dress except when under arms.)
As a general rule all soldiers took their headress off when entering any building and putting it on when immediatly leaving. This was in keeping with the traditions of wearing a hat like all male civilians did back then.

Clem Saluted on the Run

Clem's First Idea of a Good Salute.
Salute with pride, don't lean backwards, stand tall and straight. NOT like Clem!

Our Hero Salutes with a Cigarette in his Mouth

This will work, sometimes. NOT RECOMMENDED