Here is the follow-up post I promised concerning flying while in uniform. The last one focused on the actual rules for doing so while this one I want to talk about the moral issues with doing so. To me, we always struggle with correcting someone when they are wearing the uniform incorrectly. No one enjoys being the nanny that must pull a service member aside and tell them to fix something about themselves. Most of the time, this simply involves finding someone who has made a mistake due to ignorance (unaware of a certain reg) or circumstances (forgot his cover). However, I have to talk about some of my war stories that I have encountered.
The first time I really was involved was as a 1LT and traveling on a MAC flight for my honeymoon going from Travis to Frankfurt. A NCO on the flight approached me and asked me to take care of an E-4 who was traveling in his Class B’s long sleeve shirt without a tie. Now the last thing that I wanted to do with my wife on the stopover at Tinker was take this kid to Clothing Sales, but I accepted that as the senior Army guy on the flight, I needed to straighten him out. And I did just that by buying him a tie (clip-on!).
The hardest one that I ever had was three years ago. One of my companies was demobing through Ft. Carson and I was transiting through DEN on my was to COS to see them. It was 0700 and walking past an airport bar, there was a Soldier with his blouse off and drinking as fast as people could buy him drinks (there were a number of empty glasses piled up in front of him). Now I will admit that I have ignored military members when walking past bars in the airport before even though most post/ base’s uniform regs prohibit wearing the uniform at an establishment that serves alcohol. I suppose I should, but I hate to bother a guy who is behaving well and having a drink before he catches his flight.
But I had to draw the line and go correct this guy. Blouse off, drinking at 0700, this violated my sense of “embarrassing the uniform” and couldn’t be allowed. I got the story I was expecting – this guy was just returning from the box – but I explained to him that the view he was presenting to the public was wrong. He grumbled and put his blouse on, but I could tell e considered this an imposition by some nosy officer. I know that I was a party pooper, and felt that several of the civilians thought as much also, but I would rather do this than read about a drunken Soldier in the DEN airport getting into a flight in a bar and having to see that on the nightly news.
I guess that I why I never make a big deal of military members drinking on a flight because I figure that the FA will cut them off before they would have enough to get drunk. Although I don’t know what the public’s perception is of someone in uniform drinking.
Where do you draw the line? I would like to hear other stories where you saw someone traveling in uniform and had to correct them or disapproved of the way they were doing it. If you thoguht that I overdid things you are welcome to tell me that too.