Saluting Rules

Those persons entitled to the salute are:

  • Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
  • Officers of the Virginia Militia at the Virginia Military Institute.
  • Officers of friendly foreign nations.

There is often a certain amount of confusion determining at what distance from a superior that a junior person should render a salute. Saluting distance is that distance at which a person entitled to the salute is recognized. Usually it does not exceed 30 steps. The salute is rendered when the person to be saluted is 6 steps distant, or at the nearest point of approach if it appears that this distance will be greater than 6 steps. Then hold the salute until the person being saluted has either passed by or returned the salute.

A salute is returned by all officers entitled to it unless they are in formation. The salute is rendered at a halt or walk. If running, continue running and render a proper greeting, ie. "Good afternoon, Sir".

However, there are exceptions to the general rules prescribing the salute. These are indicated in the following paragraphs. In general, you should not render the salute when: 

  1. Engaged in work if the salute would interfere. 
  2. Indoors, except when reporting to a senior or when on duty as a sentinel or guard. 
  3. Carrying articles with both hands or being so occupied as to make saluting impractical. Carrying a coffee cup or soda can in one hand does not qualify. An armload of books, however, does. At VMI, it is customary to halt, come to attention, and offer a verbal greeting if a hand salute cannot be executed. 
  4. When saluting is obviously inappropriate.

The safest and best rule to follow: When in doubt- SALUTE!

The term "outdoors" is construed to include all shelters open on the side to the weather, e.g. the stoops. "Indoors" includes offices, academic buildings, and other buildings on the Post. The expression "under arms" means carrying of arms, or having them attached to the person by sling or belt. It also refers to the equipment pertaining to arms, such as the pistol belt, or white belt.