- February 28, 2014
Concerning Selfies and Salutes
Suffice it to say the universal response to this is blind outrage. What I really find interesting are some of the comments like: “Any soldier who refuses to salute the flag is in the military for the wrong reason, and should be removed by dishonorable discharge with loss of all benefits … If they won’t salute it, they damn sure won’t fight for it,”
By and large most seem to be demanding her removal from the Army. Many pretty much want to see her drawn and quartered and the pieces sent to the far corners of the earth. My favorite remarks are usually from former and active military types who all have an opinion on how this disgrace of a soldier should be crucified publicly.
Here’s a little secret: most military types who say they never ducked colors are probably lying. There are all kinds of ways to do it. The most common way is to haul ass to wherever you’re headed around 1700. Another is to hide indoors until it’s over. This isn’t uncommon.
|Funny because it’s true.|
In Bahrain I once came upon a couple of Marines standing just inside the glass doors of the MWR food court complex. I asked them what they were doing. They said they were waiting for colors to finish. “Don’t be afraid of a little music,” I said “Let’s go.” We took two steps out of the door and rendered a salute as colors finished playing. I turned to the Marines and reminded them not to be so wishy washy and that Sailors were watching them act like pansys.
If I paid attention to internet comments I suppose the two Marines should have been catapulted into the Persian Gulf with their DD214 stapled to their forehead. The problem with that approach is they wouldn’t have learned anything.
In the early 90’s I remember our company 1stSgt caught a LCpl running from evening colors. After verbally flaying the offender he announced an interesting ‘punishment.’ The LCpl was ordered to don his dress blues every evening and be outside the company office by the five minute warning. There he was joined by the 1stSgt where they would salute colors and the 1stSgt released him for the day. In hindsight this was classic remedial training of a known deficiency.
Everyone seems to have an opinion of what to do about PFC Sheffey. My advice to my CO under similar circumstances would be to have the offending Soldier don a service uniform daily for a uniform inspection before 1700. As a social media twist, the platoon sergeant could post photos of her rendering honors to evening colors on the internet every day for a week. I’d also assign her to give a period of instruction on the military history of bugle calls, taps and selected portions of the flag manual. The symbol of the national flag won’t mean anything to her if she doesn’t understand what it represents. Develop a sense of responsibility in our subordinates? Madness I say!
In my mind I’d treat a post on the internet as if it were said right in front of my face. Technically, it is in front of your face. If one of my PFCs had the nerve to say IDGAF to me I’d swiftly give them a reason to change their outlook. For me personally, the one inviolate rule broken in this case was: DO NOT SHOW YOUR ASS IN PUBLIC. If Marines ever want an inner ear fracturing experience in my office, all they’d have to do is publicly bring discredit upon the Corps.
One final thought: PFCs in the military are going to do stupid things. It’s in their job description. It’s a leader’s role to teach troops the way they should go and why that way is important. I often remind people that three months of basic training/boot camp doesn’t automatically fix a lifetime without any discipline or a fundamental character flaw. Troops are going to do stupid things. Training and remediation are continuous. It takes many troops years of experience before they actually ‘get it.’
In the end I’ve got a feeling her immediate leadership will do something appropriate.