Presidential salute

In the clip of Bush leaving Marine One, the Marine is holding a salute. Bush returns it, and the Marine continues to hold his salute as the President walks away. What is the protocol for saluting the President?

Same as any superior officer. He’s Commander in Chief.

Was Bush’s salute clearly recognizable as a returned salute?

One of the anti-Clinton glurges prompted a feature in Snopes and a discussion at Fathom. The protocaol has also been addressed on the Ronald Reagan Home Page. The consensus seemed to be that the saluter held the salute only until it was returned.

Speaking from the bottom of the barrel…

I’m a relatively junior enlisted military member, and from what I remember in our basic training, it made no difference whom you were saluting, it was done the same all around. When you’re walking past someone, you salute them as they get within about six paces, hold it till it’s returned or they acknowledge it (if their hands are full, they are not required to return it, of course) or until you’ve walked past them (if they just never noticed you). If you’re standing still, the same distance rule would apply to someone walking past you (i.e., off an airplane), but I don’t know any reason why you would continue to hold it after it had been returned.

There are other nuances – you salute at the beginning and end of conversation, if the officer actually walks up and starts talking to you, for instance – but I can’t remember any that would apply there. It seems likely that the Honor Guard has slightly altered the traditional rules for their own special circumstances, which is to say, that way looks better on camera.