Social Life

Etiquette and Social Occasions

Military Etiquette. There are several Marine Corps customs and courtesies, which while possibly unwritten, are important for you to know.

(1) The CO's wishes. When the commanding officer states "I wish," "I desire," or similar expressions, these have the force of a direct order and should be complied with on that basis.

(2) Reporting to seniors. Juniors must report immediately in correct uniform when requested by a senior. If in the field, on the drill field, or on a parade ground, it is necessary for juniors to proceed and report on the double.

(3) Walking with a senior. When walking with a senior, walk to the left, one pace back, and in step with that senior.

Social Occasions

(1) Bosses' Night. At periodic intervals the staff noncommissioned officers of a company, squadron, battery, or similar size unit invite the officers of the unit to the SNCO mess for an evening get-together known as "Bosses' Night." Some important ground rules that make for a good "Bosses' Night" are:

(a) Always set a reasonable time limit. Do not stay "all night."

(b) Do not turn Bosses' Night into a grievance session.

(c) Do not drink to excess.

(2) Hail and farewell. When you become attached to, or depart from a unit, you may be "Hailed or Farewelled." That is your units way of saying "Welcome aboard" or "thanks for a job well done." At a hail you and your spouse will be introduced. At a farewell, you'll normally receive a memento and be asked to say a few words.

(3) Wetting Down. After a promotion, it is customary to celebrate by spending your first pay raise on your fellow Marines at your favorite tavern. Tradition has it that the new grade insignia was placed in the bottom of a glass of spirits, and the Marine drank the glass dry. Remember... alcoholic beverages must be consumed with moderation.

(4) Dining In/Out. This event is a variation of the traditional Mess Night. "Dining in" means that the mess is open to guests from within the unit, while "Dining out" opens the mess to honored guests outside the unit.

Social Do's and Don'ts. Common sense, tact, and ordinary courtesy are the fundamentals of social success in the Marine Corps. First impressions are most important. Remember, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

(1) Be on time. One of the most valuable habits that you can acquire is that of being on time. Promptness and responsibility go hand in hand.

(2) Exhibitionism. Exhibitionism means drawing attention to yourself in a public place. Shouting, whistling, clowning, loud laughter, booing, or doing something foolish or unusual, is unacceptable conduct, especially at a social function. Do not draw undue attention to yourself. If there is any chance that you will be recognizable as a Marine, your conduct must be impeccable.

(3) In the Company of Women. A man offers his arm only to give assistance when needed, as an escort at a formal dinner or as an usher at a wedding. Never grasp or take hold of the woman's arm, unless an accident is to be avoided. She will take your arm, you do not take hers. When in uniform and covered, use your left arm to escort so that you may render or return salutes.

(a) On the Street. A man walks on the curb side, outboard of a lady, thus sheltering her. In a crowd, when she needs assistance, or in heavy traffic, or going up steps, the man gives her his arm. Aboard a train, aircraft, or bus, a woman is offered the window seat. On a bus or street car, a Marine always gets up and offers his seat to a woman with packages or children, an elderly lady, or a pregnant woman.

(b) Decorum. When you are with a lady, don't embarrass her by off-color jokes, loud talking, violent gestures, or other actions that may attract undue attention. Except in crowded situations where the man obviously has to "run interference," you should let the lady precede you, as when boarding a bus or going down a theater aisle.

(c) Assistance. If a lady seems to need help you should offer your assistance. But don't presume on your act of courtesy or helpfulness by imposing on the lady or trying to strike up an unwanted acquaintance with her.

(d) On your feet. At a social occasion, such as a dinner party, men should stand when a woman enters the room, remain standing until she sits down, and rise again upon her departure. A man is not expected to stand every time a hostess reenters or leaves a room. Stand up for introductions, greetings, and farewells. When a senior officer, dignitary, or elderly person comes to your table, stand.

(e) Seating a woman. A man assists the woman to his right with her chair when she sits down at the dining table, and when she rises.