Thursday, March 3, 2011

Attention to Colors

I've mentioned before that I was on shore duty at a facility in the DC metro area for a spell. A large number of people worked there, the vast majority were civilians. The commander of the facility was a captain in some engineering career path. The facility also had about a dozen or so naval officers of varying designators; the idea was explained to me that we all brought real-world fleet experience to the job the facility did.

We were sort of dispersed around the various departments and, brother, most of the civilians that we worked for were scared of us. For instance, my boss had at least three people in his hierarchy between himself and the facility commander, maybe four. He knew, as did all of the other bosses who had naval officers detailed to work for them, that in the "blue suit" chain of command, we all reported directly to the facility commander. It griped the living shit out of my boss that he couldn't make an appointment directly with the facility commander, but I could.

He really hated that once a month, there was a "military lunch" in the executive dining room at the cafeteria, where all of the blue-suiters had lunch with the base CO. When I realized that seriously gnawed on his liver, I made a point of telling him when the lunches were scheduled and reminding him on that day that I'd be gone for an hour or so.

We all stood a 24 hour watch as the Command Duty Officer. We didn't have to sleep at the facility, but we had to be available by phone or pager the entire time. (I think in a 30 month period of time, I had to go in maybe four times.) Turnover was at 0745 and at 0800, the ongoing and offgoing CDO stood in front of the administration building and saluted the raising of the Colors.

Now at most naval bases, all traffic stops for morning and evening Colors. Even if you don't know it's going on, you can see the pedestrians stop, face towards the Colors and salute while the Colors are raised. Even if they can't see them, they can hear the bugle call.*

But not at this facility. We would be standing on the steps of the Administration building, saluting the Colors and watching the traffic drive by. It bothered every one of us.

So one day, when I was ongoing or offgoing CDO, I don't remember which, when the four-note "Attention" call was played, we smartly marched right into the middle of the street, blocked traffic, and when the bugle call for Colors played, we saluted the Colors. When the "Carry On" played, we executed an about-faced and marched out of the street.

From then on, that was part of the drill for every duty day. I don't think we ever were honked at, for they probably believed that we'd just drag them out of their cars and beat the shit out of them. And we might have done just that.
* Bugle calls were pretty much only used for morning and evening Colors in the Navy. The Army and the Zoomies were, of course, big on bugle calls.


williamthecoroner said...

Good onya!

PhysioProf said...


ORPO1 said...

Reveille and morning colors at Edwards are now in place. At 0730. Reveille first then colors. I kid you not.
The Air Force wakes up at 0730 and does colors at the same time! Wow.
No sense of tradition at all. Not to mention the way things should be done.