Why Do Marines Not Salute Indoors

Why Do Marines Not Salute Indoors? Marine Corps Etiquette

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

Have you ever wondered why Marines refrain from saluting while inside a building? This question crossed my mind while I was attending a military event at a Marine Corps base.

I observed the disciplined Marines as they were organized and attentive outside but didn’t salute as much indoors.

So, why do Marines not salute indoors? In this short introduction, I’ll give insights into the meaning behind this military practice. Keep reading. 

Why Don’t Marines Salute Indoors?

US Marines

Marines refrain from saluting indoors due to a fundamental rule of military protocol: salutes are rendered while wearing headgear or hats. 

Saluting signifies respect, a gesture performed in full military uniform. 

“A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons.”

Admiral David D. Porter, United States Navy Admiral

However, indoors, regulations typically require personnel to remove their headgear, leaving them without the necessary attire to execute a salute. 

This practice upholds the strict discipline and following tradition within the Marine Corps and Armed Forces, reinforcing the importance of uniformity and decorum in their ranks.

But who is the first one to drop a salute?

Is Saluting Indoors Disrespectful?

Saluting indoors is generally forbidden but not necessarily disrespectful. 

However, exceptions exist, such as when formally reporting to a superior officer or during indoor ceremonies, where saluting is not only permitted but expected as a mark of respect. 

Outside these specific scenarios, saluting indoors is discouraged to ensure military decorum and adherence to protocol. But what does the “no hat no salute” imply?

Do Marines Salute When Wearing Civilian Attire?

Yes, Marines, like all military personnel, are expected to salute when wearing civilian attire in certain circumstances. This courtesy is extended in garrison, military bases, or public places. 

The salute is a symbol of respect and recognition of rank, and it is a fundamental aspect of military discipline and etiquette that is upheld regardless of the clothing they wear, ensuring consistency with the protocol [1].

Do Marines Salute In A Different Way?

No, the salute performed by Marines is the same as that executed by the Navy and Coast Guard. The key distinction lies in the manner in which they execute it. 

While the basic salute is consistent, Marines hold their right elbow in line with their torso, distinguishing it from the Army and Air Force, where the elbow is raised to a 45-degree angle. 

“A Marine’s salute is a gesture of respect, reserved for the open skies and the watchful eyes of the outdoors.”

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This small difference in how they salute highlights the importance of doing things precisely in the military, even when showing respect.

Find out if saluting a veteran is appropriate here.

How Should A Marine Be Properly Saluted?

US Marine Saluting
  1. Raise your right hand sharply, with fingers and thumb extended and the palm facing downward.
  2. Ensure the tip of your right forefinger meets the rim of the headgear visor, positioned to the right of your right eye.
  3. Hold the outer edge of your hand slightly downward, maintaining a straight hand and wrist [2].
  4. The right elbow should align with your torso, not sticking out or bent. This adds to the formality and precision of the salute.

Why Do People Respect The Marines More Than The Army?

The Marine Corps earns heightened respect due to their reputation as the “door kickers” in force, responsible for establishing beachheads and confronting the most immediate threats. 

Their “marines” title, distinct from “soldiers,” reflects their specialized training. 

Marines undergo exceptionally rigorous basic training, renowned for producing some of the toughest and most highly skilled fighters.

This intense preparation and their role in dealing with immediate threats make them stand out and earn the respect of many, as they are seen as an elite and formidable force within the military.

Related Post: What Does It Mean If A Veteran Pays You A Salute?


How should a Marine be greeted?

When Marines who are not acquainted meet, it is common to use phrases like “Semper fidelis,” “Semper fi,” or “Ooh Rah” as greetings. 

These expressions reflect the Marine Corps spirit and camaraderie, creating an instant connection among fellow Marines.

What is the Marine Corps’ most special unit?

The Marine Raiders stand out as one of the Marine Corps’ most elite units. 

Under the Special Operations Command, they specialize in conducting high-risk, small-unit missions to eliminate specific targets. 

Why do Marines prefer not to be called soldiers?

Marines are not referred to as soldiers because they belong to a branch of the military separate from the Army. 

Each branch has its unique mission, training, historical legacy, uniform, and sense of identity, so the distinction in terminology is maintained to honor their roles and traditions.

What happens when a Marine attacks a civilian?

When a Marine commits aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon or force likely to cause severe injury or death against a civilian, they can face a three-year confinement, Dishonorable Discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. 

How do the Marines get punished?

The Uniform Code of Military Justice prescribes various forms of punishment for different offenses, including restriction, reduction in grade, fines, punitive discharge, confinement, forfeitures, hard labor without confinement, reprimands, and, in extreme cases, death.

Is it impolite to salute when sitting?

Yes, saluting while sitting is considered impolite in the military. However, if one cannot stand, saluting from a seated position is permitted as a sign of respect.

The proper military hand salute is given while standing erect at attention or walking towards or past the person being saluted. 

In Summary

My visit to the Marine Corps base showed me how important it is for Marines to follow certain rules and traditions. One of these rules is that they don’t salute when they’re inside buildings. 

This might seem strange, but they should salute when they have their hats on and usually take them off indoors.

This rule is not meant to be rude or disrespectful. Instead, it’s about keeping things orderly and consistent in the military. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. 

Marines can salute indoors when they are reporting to a higher-ranking officer or when they are taking part in special indoor ceremonies.


Kimberlee Johnson
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