Office of Auxiliary CG-BSX-1
Uniforms, Insignia & Ribbons
For more information, read the current version of the
Auxiliary Manual

Customs & Courtesy

  • What is courtesy and what is protocol?
    • Courtesy is the key to successful human relationships (with courtesy goes respect). Courtesy is proper consideration for the feelings and rights of others.
    • Protocol: Universally accepted customs and regulations that govern the formality and etiquette practiced in a civilized society. Protocol is the body of accepted rules of social behavior practiced by thoughtful and considerate people.
    • As a Flotilla Commander, the practice of courtesy and protocol are necessary requirements for successful duty performance. They lead to a spirit of teamwork.
    • Courtesy and protocol are part of the ceremonial procedures that contribute dignity and color to team coast guard
  • Saluting
    • The questions are, "When do we, as Auxiliarists, salute and under what conditions do we render a military salute?" Let's take a look at some guidelines below: (Note: saluting is a greeting and sign of respect.)
      •  Outdoors in uniform and under cover.  Note: When outdoors and in uniform the cover should always be worn.
      • Saluting between Auxiliarists is not usually the custom, but is not out of protocol to do so.
      • Render a salute to a senior military officer.    Note: It is customary to exchange a greeting with the salute and with a smile, i.e., good morning sir or ma'am.
      • Returning a salute from a junior military officer or enlisted personnel.  Note: It is customary to exchange a greeting with the salute and a smile at about six paces away.
      • Whenever you're saluted and addressed as an active duty officer or flag officer by an enlisted member or member of the other military branches, you should always return the salute, thank the member, and educate them that you are a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
    • How do you know who or what to salute? Let's take a look at some general guidelines:
      • The # 1 rule of thumb is: If it out ranks you, salute it, If you aren't sure, salute it.
      • You should always salute a Medal of Honor recipient no matter what the rank. They wear, regardless of Military Branch, this ribbon: Medal of Honor
    • A salute is required when:
      • Addressing the national ensign.
      • Playing of the national anthem.  Note: If the flag cannot be seen, face the direction of the music and render a salute.
      • Morning and evening colors ceremonies.
      • Aboard ship (not underway).
      • On a Coast Guard or military installation.
      • If outdoor and not in uniform, a civilian salute is rendered in the same situations. Note: Male headdress is removed with the right hand and placed over the right shoulder.
      • If indoors, uniform or civilian clothes, place the right hand over the heart, unless under arms.
    • Most frequently observed saluting errors:
      • Failing to hold salute.
      • Failure to look at the person being saluted.
      • Failure to look at the colors.
      • Failure to stand at attention.
      • Failure to have fingers, hand, and arm in proper position during saluting.
    • Most frequently observed gross saluting errors:
      • Saluting with a cigarette in the hand or mouth.
      • Saluting with left hand in a pocket.
      • Saluting in a casual manner.
  • Flag Etiquette (National Flag)
    • Our national flag is referred to as:
      • National Ensign.  Note: The national flag is referred to as the "National Ensign" when displayed on a vessel or facility.
      • Colors. Note: The national flag is referred to as "Colors" when carried by foot.
      • Standard  Note: The national flag is referred to as "Standard" when displayed on a vehicle or aircraft.
    • Ceremony of colors:
      • On all Coast Guard shore commands and ships (not under way) colors is performed twice a day, 0800 and sunset.
        • At 0755 and 5 minutes before sunset "first call " is sounded on the bugle or by boatswain's mate pipes.
        • At 0800 "attention" is sounded by the bugle. Then on the loudspeaker "Attention to Colors."
        • At that time the national ensign is hoisted smartly.
        • The band will play the national anthem or the bugler will play "to the colors."
        • If you are in ranks, you will be called to attention and/or present arms.
        • If you are in uniform, but not in ranks, face the colors and salute until "carry on" is sounded.
        • If you are in a vehicle, stop and sit at attention, do not salute. If conditions permit, the senior person gets out and salutes.
        • If you are a passenger in a boat, remain at attention, seated or standing. The boat officer or coxswain will salute for the boat.
        • At sunset: "first call" will be sounded at five till. At sunset "Attention" is sounded and the band will play the national anthem.
        • The flag is lowered slowly so it reaches the bottom and is balled up within the field of blue on the last note of music.
        •  If no band, the bugler will play "Retreat", you face the ensign at attention and hold your salute until "Carry On" is sounded.
        • Your behavior during evening colors is the same as that for the morning colors.
      • Half-staffing the ensign is a tribute to the dead.
    • Flag etiquette in meeting rooms and at social events:
      • In a meeting room and displayed flat:
        • Behind the podium or head table the union to the audience's left.
      • When displayed on a staff in a meeting room:
        • A position of superiority over all other flags in the room.
        • If a single flag, behind and to the right of the podium or head table (to the audience's left.) All other flags will be to the audience's right.
    • National flag and funerals:
      • When displayed on a casket the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.
      • The national flag should never be lowered into the grave nor allowed to touch the ground.
      • The national flag should be removed by the color guard, folded and presented to the officer in charge.
    • National Ensign on a boat:
      • The size of the national ensign should be kept in proportion to the length of the boat.
      • Rule: Minimum of one inch of flag on the fly per foot of overall boat length.
    •  National Ensign as a distress signal:
      •  U.S. code states that "The flag should never be displayed with the union down save as a signal of dire distress."
      • The upside down national ensign should not be relied on as a distress signal on the high seas or in foreign waters.
  • Boarding or Leaving A Military Vessel
    • Boarding a military vessel:
      • When boarding most military vessels all boarding is at the quarter-deck of the vessel.
      • All ships will have an officer of the deck (OOD) on duty.
      • The OOD may be an officer or a petty officer.
    • Quarter-deck ceremonies:
      • Senior officers boarding or leaving a vessel.
      • On Coast Guard vessels, the arrival or departure of visiting officers, commander and above, are normally announced by rank and name.
      • High-ranking civilian officials are announced in the same manner.
      • Accompanying the announcement of the arrival or departure is the toning of the bell.
    • Senior officers boarding or leaving a vessel.
      • The number of bongs of the bell will depend on the senior officer's rank.
    • Boarding a military vessel:
      • As you board a military vessel you stop at the top of the gangway, face and salute the national ensign on the stern of the vessel.
      • If you are unable to see the national ensign, you still turn in that direction and salute toward the stern of the vessel.
      • You then turn to the OOD, salute and say, "request permission to come aboard sir or ma'am." The OOD will return your salute and invite you aboard.
      • If in civilian clothing, you do not salute. Face the national ensign, stand at attention for a moment and then turn to the OOD and request permission to come aboard.
      • When permission is granted, proceed aboard
    • Leaving a military vessel:
      • Present yourself to the OOD.
      • Salute and say, "request permission to leave the ship, sir or ma'am."
      • The OOD will say, "very well" or "permission granted" and return your salute.
      • Step to the gangway, and as you cross the gunwale, turn and salute in the direction of the national ensign then proceed ashore.
      • If not in uniform, the same procedure is to be followed without rendering a salute
    • Boarding or leaving a military vessel with guests:
      • If you have guests who are not in uniform, you will render the salute and request permission to board or leave for both you and your guests.
  • Ship Etiquette
    • On most larger ships chief petty officers will have their own mess located in "CPO country." This is a privileged area and you are not to enter at any time unless invited by a member of the chief's mess.
    • Guests are not allowed in the captain's quarters unless invited by the captain.
    • It is customary not to enter the crew's quarters unless invited to do so, unless it is necessary to pass through while moving from one part of the ship to another.
    • While on a Coast Guard vessel you may have areas you may use at your convenience and others that may be restricted to you. Respect these areas. This is a sign of a courteous guest.
    • Always observe the ship's rules.
  • Wardroom Etiquette
    • The wardroom is where the ship's officers eat.
    • Enlisted personnel eat in the mess deck.
    • The captain, executive officer, or another ship's officer will be the presiding officer at the meal. The presiding officer will invite those present for the meal to be seated at the table when the meal is ready to be served. Do not sit down at the table until you are told to do so.
    • If you need to leave the table before the meal is finished and the presiding officer has not risen, ask for permission to leave the table. Simply say, "may I be excused, sir or ma'am?"
    • Frequently it may be necessary to have meal seating in the officer's mess in groups. Should this occur usually a list is posted indicating the groups and seating times.
    • Certain subjects are normally taboo during mealtime:
      • Politics.
      • Religion.
      • Shop talk.
  • Invitations
    • There are several basic formats for invitations. Individuals extending the invitation should select the format most suited to the function and invitee.
      • Rules for formal invitations:
        • Either printed or in letter format.
        • For official visitors.
        • Carries an "RSVP."
        • Formal dinners.
        • Dinner dances.
        • Change of command dinner.
        • Other ceremonial occasions.
      • Less formal invitations may be used for other events such as regular meetings, etc. Less formal invitations may be by:
        • General letter.
        • Verbal.
        • Posted notices.
      • All invitations whether formal or less formal should include the following:
        • Place.
        • Date.
        • Time.
        • Uniform.
        • Whether or not the invitee is expected to bring a guest, spouse, etc.
        • Cost.
        • Is invitee expected to participate in the program.
        • If "RSVP" list a contact person and phone number.
        • List a contact person with phone number who will handle courtesy requests.
        • Invitations requesting, "AS OUR GUEST"  Note: The host with pay for the invitee and guest's dinner
        • Invitation requesting the invitee and guest "TO JOIN US."  Note: The invitee will pay for his own dinner.
        • The more senior the guest, the earlier they must establish a schedule. Invitations should be sent at least eight weeks in advance.
  • Formal Functions
    • Normally the senior officer of the unit sponsoring the function is the host. As the senior officer you personally may not be able to host all of your guests. Therefore, delegate one of your members as an "aide" for each guest or group of guests.
    • The host should arrive at the event before the guests in order to greet them.
    • Are there places for hats and coats?
    • Do the guests have reserved dinner seats? If so, it should be pointed out to them as they arrive. If not, be certain that appropriate places are provided. Will your guests be given meal tickets?
    • Have printed programs for your guests.
    • If you are a guest, it is customary to personally greet the host and hostess when you arrive. Before departing, again express appreciation to the host and hostess for being invited.
    • When flag officers are present, it is considered proper to delay leaving until they have paid their respects and departed.
  • Receiving Lines and Receptions
    • When attending a function which has a receiving line the following are rules to follow:
      • Be present at the receiving line on time.
      • Do not carry a drink, cigarette, cigar, etc.
      • Do not stop for any extended conversations.
      • The wife normally precedes the husband
      • Say your name distinctly to the first official member of the line. An aide will stand at the head of the receiving line or across from the official host to announce the names of the guests as they arrive
      • After the last person in line, move away.
    • Order of receiving line:
      • Official host.
      • Guest of honor.
      • Guest of honor's wife.
      • Official host's wife or husband.
      • Extra man if needed.  Note: The receiving line should never end with a lady.
    • Receiving lines are to be flexible.

    • They are not to be too long.
    • The receiving line should be in place at the time the function is scheduled to start.
  • Seating Arrangements
    • All guests to a formal function should be informed prior to seating as to where they will be sitting.
    • If meal tickets are required, arrangements should be made so head table guests will not have to present tickets.
    • It is not essential all invited special guests sit at the head table.
    • The head table should be reserved for distinguished guests.
      • Flag or senior Auxiliary officers.
      • Flag or senior Coast Guard officers.
      • All other special guests may be seated at honors tables.

      • Spouses of officers at the head table may be seated at a special honors table.

    • The host should appoint aides to assist as follows:
      • To show seating locations to official guests.
      • To handle meal tickets of official guests.
      • To stop monopolizing of official guests.
      • To handle official guest requests and all other duties as requested.
    • It is not mandatory to have all Coast Guard officers on one side of the table and all Auxiliary officers on the other.
    • If the District Commander, Chief of Staff, or Chief of Boating Safety Division is not present and no representative has been designated, the Director of Auxiliary will represent the District.
    • Seating at the head table should by in line by position or command. Seating at the head table should be as follows:
      • Center table = Presiding Officer.
      • Immediate right = Guest Speaker.
      • Immediate left = senior Coast Guard or Auxiliary Officer.
      • Back to right, then to the left, etc.
      • Never end the head table with a lady.
      • Wives should be treated in a status parallel to their husbands and husbands to their wives.
  • Introductions
    • Should any Coast Guard flag officers or National Elected officers enter the room during a formal function:
      • You do not stand at attention.
      • If you are seated you do not have to get up.
      • An aide should be appointed to watch for the ranking official.
      • The aide, or if no aide is present, the first person to observe the ranking official will state, "ladies and gentlemen, the District Commander, Admiral ... has joined us."
    • When introducing guests at the head table or tables of honor:
      • Be accurate with names and titles.
      • Do not have lengthy introductions.
      • Only the guest speaker requires an introduction above their name and title.
      • Introductions of the guest speaker should be brief covering career achievements to date.
    • Do not make the introduction longer than the speech.  Note: It isn't uncommon for introductions to be made by a master of ceremony or aide.
  • Speaking Order for Guests
    • The precedence for speaking by distinguished guests is usually assigned in an ascending order according to position of rank or office (low to high)
    • The following is recommended speaking order for remarks by invited guests:
      • Special guests - local Mayor, etc.
      • Immediate Past District Commodore.
      • District Rear Commodore(s).
      • District Vice Commodore.
      • District Commodore.
      • National Commodore or representative.
      • Director of Auxiliary or representative.
      • Chief Director or representative.
      • District Commander or representative.
      • NOTE: The speaking order will depend on the function or event.
  • Funeral Services
    • Participation by the Coast Guard Auxiliary in funeral services for deceased members is governed entirely by the wishes of the family of the deceased.
    • The Auxiliary should make known through normal channels of communication that services are available.
    • If the deceased member of the Auxiliary had previously specified, or if the survivor of an Auxiliarist desires that the Auxiliary take an active part in the funeral services, the survivor should make this request known to the mortuary and the clergyman.
    • Any member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary having knowledge of the death of a fellow member should notify the Flotilla Commander without delay.
    • The Flotilla Commander should call in person on the deceased survivors to offer condolence and assistance. At that time, it can be determined from the family whether participation by the Auxiliary is desired and to what extent.
    • The Director of Auxiliary and District Commodore should then be notified of the member's passing and funeral details.
    • Auxiliary involvement should not be restricted to members of the deceased's Flotilla.
    • Participating Auxiliary Officers should be in uniform; Service Dress Blue, Alpha.
    • Auxiliary service should be conducted before the regular church or funeral services.
    • The committal should be given by the family's clergyman, not to observe this is to breach an important pastoral relationship between the family and the pastor.
    • The Auxiliary participation in a member's funeral may:
      • Depend on the wishes of the family.
      • Be a group of Auxiliarists arriving to pay their respects.
      • Honor Guard.
      • Participation in the funeral itself
    • What ever the level of Auxiliary activity, great care must be taken to maintain the dignity of the occasion.
    • See Chapter 12 of AUXMAN: Courtesy and Protocol Booklet
 

 

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Last Modified 5/7/2013