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Courtesies and Customs

I enlisted in 1976 in the Marine Corps, went to boot camp at San Diego, went to admin school at Camp Pendleton. did a tour in Okinawa, and reported to MCDEC Quantico, Virginia in 1978. While there I was assigned to mess hall duty. One day, I received verbal instructions from either a gunnery sergeant or a master sergeant who was in charge of our kitchen detail. My response was a prompt “Yes,sir!”. The senior enlisted dutifully reminded me to not call him “sir”, that he worked for a living. I responded with a thought from my upbringing in Texas: “With all due respect, I was always taught to respect my elders.” There was nothing more said from the E-7/E-8.
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Tommy Smith - April 14, 2020

I had an experience with a co-worker who was former Army. This person was older that me and when someone greeted him or talked to him and called him “Sir”, he would always reply “Don’t call me Sir, I work for a living.” One day I was talking to him and called him “Sir”. He rattled off that standard “Working for a living reply” crap. I looked at him and replied ” So you are telling me that the Officers in the Army do not work? He grumbled something unintelligent, something about being a Jarhead and walked off. I never had any further comment from him about “workimg for a living”. I kept calling him “Sir” and he never responded negatively again. I am 64 and he was about 10 years older. Stand your ground.

James Wayne Taylor - April 14, 2020

As a very new Corpsman, I , by mistake, disrespected an SgtMajor in 1967. He was under my care at Camp Lejuene in the old hospital complex. I called the ward to order and voiced my apology to him as well as the Corps. When I was done I addressed him properly a dutifully turned around bent over and offered my butt to be kicked…he didn’t and we shook hands again and the whole ward had a good time with a smile fest…

Tony Woconish - April 14, 2020

I call every man “SIR” (regardless of age) makes it fair to everyone and just out of plain “ole respect”. PI🌴SC 1976.

Michael Herrin - April 14, 2020

I believe most of us Marines have a story along that line. Mine was when a Drill Instructor friend of mine inadvertently emptied a Greyhound bus of new recruits and little ole ladies at 1:30 am. The bus driver was a replacement and didn’t know that he was suppose to turn the interior light on if he had more than just recruits on the bus. It was hilarious to see little old ladies on the yellow foot prints. My friend just knew that his career was over but from what I understand, no one reported the incident. My friend told me that he was always afraid that Military Police would show up one day with one of these ladies.

G Willard 0311, 8651. 8511… - April 14, 2020

…and if Gunny had kids, he probably loved ya for it Kevin.

G Willard 0311, 8651, 8511,… - April 14, 2020

Addendum: When I was still a young E-5 D.I. at P.I. I once said “Sir” to the father of one of my graduate recruits (I wasn’t much older than the recruit) and his Dad did EXACTLY that to me nose to nose and then said “Semper Fi”. How was I to know he was a Marine Korean War Vet?? The Staff NCO’s were back slapping me and they were all laughing their asses off at me. As it says on our D. I. website, Good Times, Good Times!

Kevin Sullivan - April 14, 2020

I had the same sort of experience at my MOS school after boot camp. I used the same response, and it was heartfelt. I was naive enough to think that it would be accepted. GySgt Hertle never allowed me to forget that gaffe as long as I was in “his” class.

G Willard 0311, 8651, 8511,…. - April 14, 2020

At that point I would have been nose to nose and said, “I know how old I am, I don’t need to be reminded!!” then grinned and given you a high five. LOL. Seriously, how could any staff NCO not appreciate your respect. Many thanks to your Mom and Dad, and Semper Fi Marine!

Bill 0331 - April 14, 2020

Good One!

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