Hey there, fellow veteran. Your country thanks you for your service, and so do most civilians from time to time. If you’ve served 30 years, or just graduated bootcamp, the thanks we get from a civilian is often the same. Civilians will thank a private like they would thank a colonel most of the time. But then again, it’s all the same to them. Freedom is freedom, and a hero is a hero no matter what’s on their collar.
Spotting a fellow veteran in public, however, is a game we play in our own head. We will sometimes come across a veteran getting thanked at a grocery store for one reason or another. Perhaps they happened to mention that they were, or currently are in the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps.
We’re certainly not mad that they’re getting attention and we’re not. that’s not what this particular game is about. What we are doing though, is administering our own ocular pat down on said veteran, and deciding weather or not we’re looking at some boot ass kid, or a true operator. Why? Because it’s just fun. It’s fun to be able to guess someone’s rank just by looking at them. It’s fun to know what to look for and nail it right on the head. It’s easy to tell most of the time, because someone who’s volunteering the fact that they’re a veteran in hopes of a thanks and a handshake is most typically a boot.
Sometimes the game is a little harder, and thus, more fun. It’s not always that easy to tell exactly what branch or rank someone is just by looking at them. That still won’t stop us from trying. Let’s explore some of the different scenarios in which we can tell if the Marine or Soldier at the end of the bar telling war stories is a salty dog, or just an ass-basket with bright green cammies. This is your basic ocular pat down check list to help you tell the difference:
1. What is the subject matter of said veteran’s “war stories?”
a. War= Salty Dog
b. Boot Camp= boot
c. Golf with the Colonel= Officer
d. Silently Staring into the distance= Special Forces
2. How is said veteran’s posture?
a. Position of attention/parade rest= Boot
b. Casual, but straight and tall= Salty dog
c. One hand in pocket, the other hailing a taxi cab = Not actually a veteran, probably just Alanis Morissette
a. 18= Boot
b. 17= 2nd Lieutenant
c. 60= Staff Sergeant
d. 90= Sergeant Major
4. How is said veteran’s hair?
a. Short, high and tight, freshly cut= Boot
b. Medium fade/5 o’clock shadow= Salty dog
c. Unkempt / impressive beard= Retired infantry/Special Forces
d. Balding / beard= Combat Veteran
5. How drunk is said veteran right now?
a. Not drunk at all= Probably not a veteran
b. Very drunk= Boot /Salty dog /Retired Vet /Combat Vet
c. Oh God! I think he just threw up in his mouth and swallowed it= Marine