respect and courtesy are required of all members of the
naval service; the junior member takes the initiative, and
the senior member returns the courtesy.
One required act of military courtesy is the salute.
Regulations governing its use are founded on military
custom deeply rooted in tradition. The salute is a
symbol of respect and a sign of comradeship among
service personnel. The salute is simple and dignified;
but, there is great significance in that gesture. It is a
time-honored demonstration of courtesy among all
military personnel that expresses mutual respect and
pride in the service. Never resent or try to avoid saluting
persons entitled to receive the salute. (The privilege of
saluting is generally denied prisoners because their
status is considered unworthy of the comradeship of
The most common form of salute is the hand salute.
However, there are other types, such as gun and rifle
salutes, which are discussed later in this chapter.
The Hand Salute
The hand salute began in the days of chivalry when
it was customary for knights dressed in armor to raise
their visors to friends for the purpose of identification.
Because of the relative position of rank, the junior was
required to make the first gesture. Another school of
thought traces the salute back to a custom at the time of
the Borgias. Assassinations by dagger were not
uncommon at that time, and it became the custom for
men to approach each other with raised hand, palm to
the front, to show that there was no weapon concealed.
In the U.S. Navy, its reasonable to believe that the
hand salute came from the British navy. There is general
agreement that the salute as now rendered is really the
first part of the movement of uncovering. From the
earliest days of military units, the junior uncovered
when meeting or addressing a senior. Gradually, the act
of taking off ones cap was simplified into merely
touching the cap or, if uncovered, the head (forelock),
and finally into the present form of salute.
The way you render the hand salute depends on
whether you are in civilian clothes or in uniform.
Personnel in civilian clothes render the salute in two
1. Hat in front of the left shoulder (men only)
2. Right hand over the heart (men without hats;
women with or without hats)
These forms of saluting are used only to salute
the flag or national anthem, never to salute
In this chapter, the hand salute usually refers to a
salute rendered by personnel in uniform. Except when
walking, you should be at attention when saluting. In
any case, turn your head and eyes toward the person
youre saluting (unless it is inappropriate to do so, such
as when a division in ranks salutes an inspecting officer
on command). Navy personnel salute the anthem, the
flag, and officers as follows:
Raise the right hand smartly until the tip of the
forefingers touches the lower part of the
headgear or forehead above and slightly to the
right of the eye (fig. 9-1).
Extend and join the thumb and fingers.
Turn the palm slightly inward until the person
saluting can just see its surface from the corner of
the right eye.
The upper arm is parallel to the ground; the
elbow is slightly in front of the body.
Incline the forearm at a 45º angle; hand and wrist
are in a straight line.
Complete the salute (after it is returned) by
dropping the arm to its normal position in one
sharp, clean motion.