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  #1  
Old 09-10-2003, 12:44 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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'Mr.' and 'Sir' for female military officers?

In some of the Star Trek movies, female officers are addressed as "Sir" by subordinates and as "Mister" by superiors. So far as I know, this has never been protocol in any U.S. military service. Does anyone know whether this protocol has been part of any military service outside the United States?

I know that, traditionally, in the British Army, subalterns (i.e., lieutenants and second lieutenants) were always addressed as "Mister" rather than as "Lieutenant." Did this continue to apply when women began entering the officer ranks?
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  #2  
Old 09-10-2003, 04:31 PM
robby robby is offline
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I don't know the answer to the OP with respect to foreign military services, but suspect that it has only occurred in Roddenberry's politically correct paradise.

Today in the U.S. Navy, female officers are addressed as "ma'am" or by their rank.

Male officers are, of course, addressed as "sir" or by their rank. Junior officers (0-1 to 0-3) in the U.S. Navy, though, may still be addressed as "Mister [Last Name]" by superiors and subordinates.

On my submarine (mid 1990s), all (non-department head) junior officers were addressed as "Mister [Last Name]."*

I've never heard a female junior officer addressed as "Ms. [Last Name]" but I believe it could be done properly.

*To this day, if you want to snap me instantly out of a dead sleep, you need only say softly: "Mr. 'robby', your presence is requested by the Officer of the Deck..."
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  #3  
Old 09-10-2003, 07:01 PM
slipster slipster is offline
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In addition to the practices already noted, in the U. S. Army warrant officers are addressed as "Mr. So-and-so".

Add my name to the list of people who are guessing that this is supposed to be a futuristic form of address. It could happen: In the U. S. it is not uncommon for female attorneys to see "Esq." behind their names.
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Old 09-10-2003, 11:35 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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According to this site(pdf, page 3) female Army officers may be called Ma'am. I also think it would never be incorrect to say, Captain Soandso, or just Captain if you don't know her name.
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  #5  
Old 09-11-2003, 08:36 AM
notquitekarpov notquitekarpov is offline
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To advise on at least one overseas military:-

It's exactly the same in the British forces - Ma'am or the rank. And in the Royal Navy only "Mr xxx" (don't know about "Ms").
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  #6  
Old 09-11-2003, 02:48 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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What about enlisted personnel? A male corporal, say, is addressed as "Mr. Smith", right? What about a female corporal? Is she "Ms. Smith", or do you have to know whether she's Miss or Mrs.?
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  #7  
Old 09-11-2003, 03:18 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I was under the impression that only officers could be addressed as "Mr."; thus, your man would have to be "Corporal Smith."
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  #8  
Old 09-11-2003, 08:36 PM
robby robby is offline
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Right. Navy enlisted, at least, are never referred to as "Mister."
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Old 09-12-2003, 04:48 AM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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What I can't seem to get straight is whether drill instructors are addressed as "sir". They are enlisted, but in the movies they are addressed as "sir" by the recruits. I know I asked my brother, because he's been through the enlisted and officer basic camps, but I can't remember the answer.
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  #10  
Old 09-12-2003, 06:19 AM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
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Drill instructors and the like are addressed as "sir" or "ma'am" as part of training. Once you're out of their little control, they'd be called "Gunny" or "Chief" or whatever according to their stripes. Boot camp is a world unto its own.
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  #11  
Old 09-12-2003, 07:44 AM
SkeptiJess SkeptiJess is offline
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From my experience in the US Navy:

Enlisted people below the rank of Chief Petty Officer aren't addressed as 'Mr.,' 'Miss' or 'Ms.,' but traditionally with their last name alone. In my personal experience -- which was all on small, linformal shore commands with a lot of civil service civilians working with us -- I was usually called by my first name. According to my husband, though, on ships, as recently as two years ago (when he retired) enlisted people are still called by surnames alone, at least by most people who outrank them. In my father's day, enlisted people used surnames alone even among themselves, BTW. This has largely changed -- among themselves enlisted people use first names. And, according to my husband, some younger officers seem to prefer first names for the enlisted people working for them. My husband, and most other traditional types, still prefer the surname-only usage. And, in any case, 'Mr.,' 'Miss' or 'Ms.' would never be used.

Chief Petty Officers (E-7 - E-9) are always called 'Chief,' 'Senior Chief' or 'Master Chief,' either with the last name or alone. Sometimes Senior or Master Chief is shortened to 'Senior' or 'Master' alone, but never with the last name -- you might hear, "Hey, Senior..." or Hey, Senior Chief Jones..." but never "Hey, Senior Jones..." You never call a Chief, 'Mr.,' 'Miss' or 'Ms.,' nor Sir or Ma'am -- not unless you like to be chewed out. Typically, if you so misaddress a Chief you will be told either, "I'm not a 'Sir' -- I work for a living!" or "I'm not a 'Ma'am' -- my parents were married!"

Officers: Junior officers are usually addressed as 'Mr.,' 'Miss' or 'Ms.' or Sir or Ma'am. I worked with a number of female junior officers and used 'Ms.' or 'Miss' at their preference -- I suppose 'Mrs.' would have been equally correct, but I never knew one who wanted to be called that. 'Ms.' was the most common preference although I knew a few who went by 'Miss.' Occasionally 'Mister' was used alone for a male Junior Officer, but I never heard 'Miss' or 'Ms.' used alone. It just sounds funny, I guess. If we were in a hurry, we'd just say 'Ma'am.'

Senior officers: Their rank (alone or with the last name) or Sir or Ma'am.

Using 'Mr.' as an honorific for women: Never in real life. The honorific for women is either 'Miss,' 'Mrs.' or 'Ms.' The notion that the female honorific isn't quite good enough and should be replaced by the male is a bit offensive to me.
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  #12  
Old 09-12-2003, 07:51 AM
Kilt-wearin' man Kilt-wearin' man is offline
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For those services that aren't the Navy, "Mister" and "Ms" are what you call ROTC/Academy cadets. Active duty personnel are addressed by rank and name (Sergeant Jones, Captain Smith, Etc) or, if they're an officer who outranks you, as "Sir" or "Ma'am". Never call a female superior "Sir". Ever.

Oh, and really senior sergeants have special ways of being addressed - Air Force Chief Master Sergeants are called "Chief" and never "Sergeant", Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeants are "Gunny", Army Sergeant Majors are, well, "Sergeant Major", and the ranking sergeant in an Army unit is addressed as "Top".
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  #13  
Old 09-12-2003, 08:58 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is online now
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U.S. Navy enlisted veteran, civilian for 5 years.

I'd just like to provide confirmation for every word of Jess's post.
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  #14  
Old 09-12-2003, 10:29 AM
Kilt-wearin' man Kilt-wearin' man is offline
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Oh, forgot to mention - it's always appropriate to call a member of the military by their rank alone, particularly if you don't know their name and can't get a good look at their nametag. "Excuse me, Airman, which way is the air show?"
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  #15  
Old 09-12-2003, 10:58 AM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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It's at the airfield, dummy.

In order to call someone by their rank, it helps to know what they are. So, here are the enlisted and officer rank insignias.

Good luck keeping them all straight. It took me forever to learn them all, and I purposefully studied them.
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  #16  
Old 09-12-2003, 11:15 AM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Oh, to Cardinal and FairyChatMom: in US Army Basic, the Drill Sergeants are addressed as "drill sergeant"; never Sir/Ma'am and never just "sergeant".

Marine DIs are addressed as Sir/Ma'am by recruits.

I'll let the USAF/USN dopers address what did they call their Basic/Boot (tor?)mentors.
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  #17  
Old 09-12-2003, 11:29 AM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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Our reporting statement until week 6 was "Sir, Trainee Snuffy reports as ordered". It was always "Sir" throughout Tech School as well.

Once we were done with the Mickey Mouse stuff, it became "Sergeant", or if he/she was really cool, it was just a first name.

And don't knock the MTIs. That's one of my goals, if at all possible. What better way to give something back than to make Airmen as awesome as I am?
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  #18  
Old 09-12-2003, 11:43 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is online now
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We called ours "Petty Officer", usually. He had us call him AD1 (his rate and grade) in informal settings, when no other company commanders were around.

These days they're called recruit division commanders, and addressed as RDC or petty officer or chief, as appropriate.
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Old 09-12-2003, 05:45 PM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
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Eons ago when I went thru recruit training, we called our company commander either Petty Officer Campbell or Ma'am. All our instructors, enlisted all, were Sir or Ma'am while we were recruits. After that, if you slipped up and used that address, they'd ream ya one.
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  #20  
Old 09-12-2003, 06:56 PM
Billdo Billdo is online now
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Here's a practical question. What do you call someone if you can't readily identify someone's rank.

Since 9/11/01, National Guardsmen have been stationed at transportation hubs (train/bus stations, etc.) in field uniforms (camoflauge) with the new Army black berets. Rank is indicated by a small, black or brown pin-on insignia on the collar that fades into the camo background. Often, even these will be obscured by straps, jacket collars or other gear. Unless you stare closely at the collar, there may be no way to tell if the person you are looking at is a PFC, a senior Sergant, an officer, or anything in between.

I presume to the extent that the otehr services have field uniforms, I imagine the rank insignia and placement would be similar.

If you come up to such a person, need to address them, and have no idea of their rank, what do you do?
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  #21  
Old 09-12-2003, 07:22 PM
Scruloose Scruloose is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Airman Doors, USAF
Good luck keeping them all straight. It took me forever to learn them all, and I purposefully studied them.
In the Coast Guard, we are required to know the names of every grade and rank, of every service, for our service wide exams. Required, meaning if you want to do well on the test, that is. Not many folks get those questions right, it seems. Wasn't an E4 in the AF a SGT at one time? Did that change?

As for the OP, Mr., Mrs. & Miss are reserved only for Warrant Officers, and Junior Officers (Enslime through Lieutenant Commander). They may also be called sir or ma'am. Commanders and Captains are addressed as such, or sir and ma'am, but not Mr, Mrs or Miss. Admirals are addressed as Admiral. Period.

In boot camp, only Company Commanders (DI's) are called sir or ma'am, even though they are all enlisted. When I went through, they wore shoulder ropes for ID. Now, they have smokey hats.


Chief (works for a living) Chandeleur sends....
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  #22  
Old 09-12-2003, 08:13 PM
robby robby is offline
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Excellent post, Jess. I have just a couple of comments.

Quote:
Originally posted by Jess
... According to my husband, though, on ships, as recently as two years ago (when he retired) enlisted people are still called by surnames alone, at least by most people who outrank them...
I believe that only Sailors of ranks E-1 through E-3 may be properly addressed by their surname alone. Petty Officers (E-4 to E-6) should be addressed as "Petty Officer [Surname]." With practice, the title "Petty Officer" can be pronounced in only one syllable, though.

Quote:
Originally posted by Jess
...And, according to my husband, some younger officers seem to prefer first names for the enlisted people working for them......
Sure sounds like fraternization to me.

Quote:
Originally posted by Jess
...Chief Petty Officers (E-7 - E-9) are always called 'Chief,' 'Senior Chief' or 'Master Chief,' either with the last name or alone. Sometimes Senior or Master Chief is shortened to 'Senior' or 'Master' alone......
I've no problem with addressing a Chief Petty Officer as "Chief," and a Senior Chief Petty Officer as "Senior," but addressing a Master Chief Petty Officer as "Master" just sounds weird. I always called them "Master Chief."

Quote:
Originally posted by Kilt-wearin' man
For those services that aren't the Navy, "Mister" and "Ms" are what you call ROTC/Academy cadets....
FWIW, NROTC and Navy Academy midshipmen are referred to as "Midshipman [Surname]."
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  #23  
Old 09-12-2003, 08:50 PM
robby robby is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Billdo
Here's a practical question. What do you call someone if you can't readily identify someone's rank...

If you come up to such a person, need to address them, and have no idea of their rank, what do you do?
Address them as "Soldier" (Army), "Sailor" (Navy/Coast Guard), or "Marine" (USMC), presuming you know their service. For USAF, I'm not sure, but my guess is that "Airman" should work.

If they look at you funny, they're probably an officer or senior enlisted. Apologize for not addressing them as such.
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  #24  
Old 09-12-2003, 11:15 PM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Billdo
I presume to the extent that the otehr services have field uniforms, I imagine the rank insignia and placement would be similar.
It's really not similar at all. The Army and Marines wear them on their lapels while in BDUs, the Navy IIRC wears them on one sleeve, and the Air Force wears them on both sleeves. Flight suits? Look on the shoulders. If you see nothing, s/he's enlisted. At that point, look on the nametag. It'll have the rank spelled out, albeit abbreviated.

With us, it's easy. Barring an Airman Basic (no stripes), if there's no insignia on the sleeves, it's an officer. In addition, the insignia should be centered on the front of the cap for officers.

Chandeleur, E-4 used to be an NCO slot called Buck Sergeant. That went away a while ago. Now it's Senior Airman (which I am), but it's not an NCO slot anymore. More's the pity.
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  #25  
Old 09-13-2003, 12:12 AM
Whiskey-Hotel Whiskey-Hotel is offline
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When I went through basic (USAF) in 1980 my DIs were addressed by rank-surname. They made it a point that they worked for a living so were not to be addressed as 'Sir'. E1-E4 SrA were addressed as 'Airman', E4 Sgt - E8 were addressed as 'Sergeant', E9 was always addressed as 'Chief'. Surname would be added if known. Officers were addressed as 'Sir/Ma'am' or rank-surname

Airman Doors, officers don't wear rank insignia on the dress (busdriver) hat, do they? Back in my day enlisted had the encircled eagle, Jr. officers had the eagle without the circle around it, and Sr. officers had scrambled-eggs on their brim. Is that still how it is?
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  #26  
Old 09-13-2003, 12:28 AM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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We don't have the bus-driver hat anymore. Now it's just the garrison cap (or flight cap, as it were). The officers have silver braid on the edges of their caps.
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  #27  
Old 09-13-2003, 12:41 AM
Whiskey-Hotel Whiskey-Hotel is offline
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Well at least flight cap (I won't bring up the more "colorful" name we had for that cap ) sounds the same as it was for me. What threw me the most was the change in MSgt insignia. That chevron on top will always make me think SMSgt.
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  #28  
Old 09-14-2003, 07:56 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Billdo:
For those Army (and NG) personnel I've seen in the new headgear, many officers wear their rank insignia superimposed on the unit flash on their berets. Since the unit flash itself can be various colors and patterns, sometimes that is not too clear, either, but it's a good clue. If wearing the BDU utility cap or a helmet, they'd usually have insignia front-and-center (or even "SSG Blogowitz" written on the elastic band holding the helmet cover) (And I insist they should have kept the BDU cap for "field ops" and used the beret only in-garrison. That must be a bitch to wear ont he field on a hot day.)

As Doors mentions, after a fit of uniformity in the mid-80s, each service modified how they wear their insignia on the BDU pattern. And during the 80s and 90s almost everyone stopped wearing the "peaked cap" as an everyday headgear -- already in the 80s Army enlisted just plain did not get it issued (you could buy it, but why bother?). I have seen new-pattern AF "peaked caps" but they seem to be limited to honor guards and top brass (and the insignia is different from the historical). Another trivia point: USAF's E4 = 3 stripe = Sergeant was a direct descendant from the 7-grade enlisted rank structure of the WW2 Army; when the services went to 9 grades in the 50s, the Army and Marines inserted ranks at varying points of the scale, while the Air Force and Navy just added at the top. "Buck" 3-stripe SGT wound up at E5 for groundpounders but stayed E4 for flyboys. In the mid/late 80s the Air Force apparently found that did not fit their requirements any more, so they first did like the Army and for a while had simultaneous NCO/not-NCO grades at E4, and finally did away with the E4 NCO.
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