After graduating from the appropriate officers' school (OCS, OTS), ROTC, or service academy, one receives a commission as an officer in the U.S. military. As such, one is entitled to a formal level of respect from enlisted personnel. Inevitably, since officers' schools (and the graduations therefrom) are held on military bases (Fort Benning, Quantico, Maxwell), a newly-graduated officer will soon encounter an enlisted person who will salute as would be expected -- a usual task for the soldier, marine, airman or seaman, but to the graduate, being on the receiving end is a new experience.

More formally, the phrase First Salute (sometimes called a "Silver Dollar Salute") refers to the tradition of receiving one's first salute from the Sergeant who was in charge of the one's officer training. The "procedure" is well evidenced toward the end of the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. The Second Lieutenant or Ensign approaches the Sergeant, who salutes the butter bar. Immediately before or after returning the salute, the graduate hands the Sergeant a silver dollar. This practice is thought to go back to the 1800's, when second lieutenants in training received a monthly salary of $25 in base pay, $3 for rations and $1 to pay an enlisted "advisor." The enlisted advisor pay was later dropped, but the custom continued.

In some cases, the new officer will give a silver dollar to any enlisted person who happens to be the first to salute him or her, not specifically the Drill Instructor.

Note: It would not be wise to order your former enemy, the DI, to drop and give you twenty upon receiving your First Salute.

Corrollary: enlistedpersons who want to make some quick cash can often place themselves strategically at commissioning ceremonies.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.