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Respect and gratitude for the military

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Respect and gratitude for the military

Old 11th May 2007, 17:13
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Respect and gratitude for the military

Taxying in at Anchorage last week the flight attendant drew attention to a US Army SNCO in battle fatigues who was returning home from service in Iraq and suggested a round of applause - which was duly given with some cheering added. Saw a similar thing on American Eagle in Wisconsin last year, and I gather it happens on many flights, with fellow pax buying the military pax drinks, for example. My hotel has many military guests all proudly wearing their uniforms. A US Air Force Master Sergeant returning early to his family got 2-3 minutes national coverage on CNN earlier today.

There is just as much, if not more, criticism of the wars with the politicians and in the Press and TV over here, but even in the media the military are generally treated with respect and where there are "anti" military stories, eg on civilian casualties, they do not seem to attract the same level of negative journalism we so often see in the UK, even though it is possible to detect the Pentagon spin on many stories.

Why the difference? Are our military usually directly associated with the unpopular decisions of their political masters in a way they are not in the USA? Does the direct link of the NG units to their communities mean that there is a better understanding of and sympathy for the military "lot"? Are the UK military, led by the MOD Press Office, now part of the culture of spin in the UK? Have we gone too far in trying to keep our military out of the public gaze, perhaps because MOD would not like some of their stories to get more attention than they already do - often thanks to PPRuNer's and the like.

What, please, are your views?

Last edited by John Blakeley; 11th May 2007 at 17:15. Reason: Spelling
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Old 11th May 2007, 17:30
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John, you make an interesting point however it was not always thus. I believe returning Vietnam vets were not accorded such acclaim. I met one who had totally gone off his fellow countrymen because of his treatment post-V.

I think that was a traumatic time for them.

This time round we are talking both full-time and reservists and not conscripts. That too may be a difference.

Why not here? Maybe because we have been keeping an anti-terrorist low profile for 40 years that our public never see servicement except when they go to displays and then you are talking to the ocnverted.

35 mean anything John? JMNB?
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Old 11th May 2007, 17:45
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Americans seem generally to be far more patriotic than their British counterparts and their citizens have a much greater sense of national identity. 911 hurt them deeply and, presumably, they see their servicemen as fighting to 'show the perpetrators who'se boss' for want of a better experession.
We on the other hand appear completely confused about who we are, what we represent, and what is right and wrong. We are engaged in conflict with people who many of our countrymen see as brothers and allies. As far as many are concerned it is the USA who is the enemy, not the arab states we are currently deployed amongst. Furthermore, the forces are seen as part of the 'establishment' which many people despise.
Add all of those things together and its hardly surprising that when one goes around town in uniform one is met, not with approving looks, but scowls, muttered oaths and even direct hostility.
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Old 11th May 2007, 17:55
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Should things change?

I think that both Chutley and PN make excellent points and I am grateful to have a full copy of Kipling's verse at last. Again talking to people here I think that Kipling's comments applied to US service personnel as well in the old days, and I agree about Vietnam vets' treatment, although I believe that views on the Vets' treatment (not the war) have changed over the years - perhaps it is the genuine links to the local communities (as the UK Army used to enjoy a lot more than it does today), the fact that they no longer have an unfair system for conscription and that the US can afford things like State NGs and ANGs (who can, and do, provide massive asasistance to the civil community as well) that keeps the military more in a sympathetic public eye. However, I would still like to see the day when a similar situation could exist in the UK - pie in the sky perhaps.

PN - sorry I am still too many time zones out of kilter for the 35 connection to trigger a brain cell - how about a PM to save my embarassment!
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Old 11th May 2007, 18:37
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John, on checking the spelling, misident, sorry.
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Old 11th May 2007, 18:54
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I remember walking into my favourite watering hole in 1975 with my regular drinking mates after being told that we were on the way to Northern Ireland.

The immediate reaction of the locals was to offer to hide us.

We politely had to point out that as professional soldiers it was what we were paid for and kind as their genuine offer was, we were unable to accept.

We all returned after a safe tour to a glorious welcome and didn't need to buy a drink all night. I have little recollection of how the evening ended.

I raise a glass today to Hannes and Irene the proprietors of the Lohne Eck and their many German customers.
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Old 11th May 2007, 18:54
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JB, check out F street station while you are there, great halibut and chowder. People in Britain do not appreciate the sacrifices servicemen make. I don't know why, but listening to Blair the other day the BBC made it sound like he personally won the Kosovo war and Sierra Leone and Iraq was something he sincerely believed in and it was a terribly difficult decision to send British servicemen to war, don't you know. The media made no attempt to explain the sacrifices made by UK armed forces and the enormous debt that former CND Blair and his marxist mates owe them, for the foreign policy successes of the Blair years.

The cult of personality is based on celebrity and weasel presidential stylists like Blair, with little of interest in self-sacrifice. To be honest, I sometimes wonder why anyone bothers to stay in the services nowadays. Very few people care.
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Old 11th May 2007, 19:19
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Myself and some colleagues were on a civvy scheduled flight during GW1, heading for a heli refresher course sim slot in Norway.

The senior flight attendant (senior being the operative word) took a bit of a shine and we were sent on our way with a big hug and a carrier bag half full of miniatures. The strong hint of an offer of something else during her night stopover was not taken up (I suspected she might have seen it as some way of returning the compliment).
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Old 11th May 2007, 19:52
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Apologies to Rudyard

I grew up in the Falklands,
My name is the Sea King Four,
The forgotten Fleet Air Arm Cousin I,
Not quite Dark Blue, Green or Crab Velour.

Used thru the eighties in my main role,
Collecting mail for the master race,
Daylight SAR on a carrier,
Leaving Egg on Pinger’s Face.

Then in the early Nineties,
Came the big Gulf War,
I hung around on a love boat,
With Nurses by the Score.

They Said ‘No troops who went to Iraq’,
Will be Kurdistan bound,
It applied not to the Junglies,
And in Kurdistan I could be found.

At the same time I was in Ulster,
Which you could still call it back then,
By the time they finally let me go,
The years that past were ten.

And at the time (again),
In Bosnia I could be found,
And it was another 6 years
Before I was Blighty bound.

But before I even left there,
On OCEAN I was parked
I was Tony Blair’s ‘force for good’.
For I ran each time he barked.

In OCEAN we toured the Cesspits*
No budget for a run ashore,
No one wants 2000 marines about,
So we just hit Freetown’s barren shore.

* Insert Nicagagura/Honduras/Turkey/Sierra Leone/Sierra Leone (again) as required.

Then Saddam ‘dissed’ Barbara Bush again,
By God, or Allah, a mistake,
It was off to hit the Gulf again,
But the WMD they all proved fake.

It must be said I’ve been under the knife,
Almost every single year,
But my gearbox is still the same,
And so is my lifting gear.

So I’ll have to give up woodbines,
Before I join the ‘Stan.
But thank you Mr Carson,
I am your greatest fan.

So as you remember the Falklands,
Remember also this,
I still scramble on orders,
Even when Tony Blair, or Gordon now, still extract the pi$$.

Hollow praise is not for I,
‘Or Tommy and Jack did good’,
Just the funds to do my job,
And, oh, some decent pay for my boys, if you could.

So in another ten years,
When I'm on (my last) death bed,
If you just say I did my job,
I'll be happy, enough said.

Last edited by 22/7 Master; 11th May 2007 at 19:53. Reason: edited for OCD reasons
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Old 11th May 2007, 20:53
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I think splitbrain has it in post #4.

The US hadn't suffered a meaningful attack on its mainland soil for over a century, and the impact of the WTC attacks was a major shock. I was (then UK based) in Chicago around 25th Sept 2001. I didn't know where to put my face. I felt like I had wandered into a funeral cortege. There were US flags EVERYWHERE. The sleeping giant truly had been awoken.

Some years on, and I now live in the US. I'm not American, but as a former soldier, I feel pride in seeing the way that ordinary Americans show respect and gratitude for the military. Not just US either. I've lost count of the beers I've been bought when my background came out, and I've been out of the mob 6 years. Hell, I feel the gratitude myself. After all, these brave men and women are keeping me as safe as they can. What's wrong with a sense of national pride in what has been fought for, and vigorously defended?

I see nothing wrong whatsoever. Bravo.

How about the UK? Well, when the electorate tolerate London councils who prevent the flying of the Union Flag, as it "might offend the community", when there's people with British passports supporting Pakistan at Lord's, when the 7/7 bombers held British passports, you're on the road to annihilation of being "British". Change in a sensible manner is to be applauded, but change in such a dramatic manner will destroy the values and ethos of the UK, and the military will be the last upholders of what has gone before.

So it's the US of A for me, partly because I'm frankly disgusted at the mess the UK is in, and the treatment of the military and defence issues by the UK people.

As it goes, I'm writing this in Dorset where I happen to be on a business trip, in a bar full of white middle class people. Until these same people can summon the moral fibre to deal with the erosion of British values, instead of worrying how they're going to pay their mortgages, or how long they'll wait on the NHS, then you're fcuked.

A few hours in the company of Delta Airlines on Sunday will take me to my home. Can't wait for the immigration officer to say "welcome back". I'll say "thanks for doing your job & keeping me safe". Bring it on.
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Old 12th May 2007, 08:24
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22/7 Master

Would you mind if I used your ditty as a poster at my current workplace? There are a few non FAA brethren who could use the education!
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Old 12th May 2007, 15:56
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I think PN raises a valid point about the British forces being hidden away from view during the 80's & 90's. Most of my service career was spent not being able to travel in uniform (although the sight of hundreds of young men with short hair cuts and identical kit bags on Newark North Gate station was hardly inconspicuous! ).
And I don't think it has anything to do with the contribution the US forces make to the local community, there are plenty of examples of UK servicemen helping communities; missing climbers & children, Boscastle, Chichester, etc.

I do think there was a period in the 70's and 80's when a number of British servicemen didn't help themselves with their general social behaviour. A number of establishments were near to towns and villages where unemployment or low paid work was a major factor (not the only one). The sight of servicemen coming into the local bars & clubs and brandishing (at the time) fistfulls of pound notes didn't really go down well with the locals. Fighting was a regular occurence and local (and in some cases national) press were quick to point the finger of blame at the troops. The reputation earned during that period has stuck, apart from brief periods post Falklands and GW1. Anybody else remember the indignation from certain members of the City during the post GW1 parades in London. "How dare they close off our streets for some dirty little tommy's."
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Old 12th May 2007, 19:43
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It is interesting to note that British service personnel are also treated with a deal of respect when visiting the US. From personal experience even the immigration staff at airports are generally more amenable once you are identified as military.

Back in the UK on the odd occasion that I visit Tescos etc in uniform on the way home from work I often feel that I am being looked at as though I am a piece of dirt.

In the US I have never seen a gang of teenagers abuse a serviceman as he walks down the street. In the UK its a very different story.

I recently had an altercation with a bus driver whilst driving home from work. When I got out of the car and the bus driver saw my uniform his immediate response was 'Ah you're a typical RAF w****r'. It just led me to wonder where that perception of RAF people had come from.
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Old 12th May 2007, 20:03
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The support for the US Armed forces is a lot more noticeable - they're all for supporting their troops rather than rallying to pull them out; many cars have the magnetic 'support our troops' ribbon stuck on the back. People over there are proud of their guys and girls.

As said above, if you get caught in a public place in your uniform in the UK, you get the looks and stares or just plain old abuse.#

Our country needs a good kick up the behind and a change of tune as far as the military is concerned. More funding for the mil, more support, and less New Labour please.
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Old 13th May 2007, 08:32
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Was recently on rare trip to the 'states' with a crew having lunch and a few beers in a local bar. Very well dressed gentleman sat at far end of bar reading a copy of 'Washington Post' asked the barman where we were from as he had over-heard our accents. Once we reluctantly, as usual, declared we were visiting British servicemen, he made his apologies and left as he had to return to work. We sat for a few more hours 'socialising' and eventually called for the bill. "Bill Sir?" barman replied, "There is no bill!". The stranger had insisted that all our tab be placed on his usual account. Can you imagine for one minute that happening in TGI Fridays in Leicester Square. ?
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Old 13th May 2007, 08:45
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As said above, if you get caught in a public place in your uniform in the UK, you get the looks and stares or just plain old abuse

Yep, you get stared at. Hardly surprising since seeing a member of HM armed forces, in uniform, on the street is unusual. Apart from the odd military convoy on the M6 or if you live in Aldershot, the general public doesn't see forces personel in uniform. When they do, they stare. Hell they stare at me if I go into tescos wearing a hi-viz vest.

I grew up in Tamworth. Every saturday night outside Manhattons night-club there was a landrover. Inside the landrover were two MPs. Every saturday they had to drag some drunken, fighting mad squaddy (or squaddies) out of the club and back to the barracks in Whittington.
Every saturday.
Without fail.
No mystery why the locals equated squaddies with trouble, is there?

As for RAF personel in uniform I can honestly say that, outside of a visit to RIAT, I have never seen one, in public.

If it's any consolation, the people I know and work with consider that the armed forces do a good job in inpossible circumstances with less kit than they should have.
Intelligent people can tell the difference between the military and government policy. Stupid people? Well who cares what sun readers think?
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Old 13th May 2007, 08:58
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military respect

I think we need to split the generalisation re UK public appreciation of our forces, I find that it is an age related reaction;
The older generation i.e over 65 seem very supportive of the military, this seems to drop with the age of the person.
Another factor is the PC (pink and cuddly) indoctrinated chattering classes . Then you have a whole strata of society? who no longer have respect for anyone including themselves. By the time you get this far there are not that many left, but you do come across them .
Luckily going by my daughter and her colleagues (ATC) there are still quite a few who still want to serve, but as I have asked her are the others in the UK and ''Britishness'' (whats left of it) still worth ''protecting
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Old 13th May 2007, 09:16
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Pureteenlard,

When you do 'see' the RAF in public they often wear CS95 and people automatically assume Army.

I often see Army in CS95 at service areas or road side food stalls; neither the best showcase for public display.
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Old 13th May 2007, 10:06
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So the scruffy RAF types standing around the fast food stalls are assumed to be army.

Result!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


You don't have to go far back to the time to the period when we regularly had RAF personnel doing their shopping in town. They had so many variations in clothing that to use the word uniform was a misnomer.

The best way to determine if the camouflaged troops are airforce or army is by eye.

If the wearer looks like a sack of sh*te with an ill fitting uniform thats airforce. If the uniform fits well thats army.
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Old 13th May 2007, 10:18
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Postman

I was staying in a hotel recently prior to going to a secret test facility in West Wales. I went to reception in my uniform to check out and the lady behind the counter handed me the post to take. Once she realised her mistake she was extremely apologetic however, the simple fact is that so few people are used to seeing the military in uniform in public.

Unfortunately, some of the previous posts are quite correct in stating that we 'hid away' during the 70s and 80s. The point that they haven't raised is that at that time the armed forces were twice the size that they are now. There have been so many cutbacks that it is only in places such as RAF Lincolnshire that RAF personnel wearing uniform in public is a common sight. However, the number of service personnel I come across who are incorrectly dressed (ie with out headress) nipping into Tescos or the like really does annoy me, it is almost as if they are embarrassed being seen in their uniform. If you are going to wear uniform in public it should be worn correctly and with pride.

The simple fact is the US armed forces are more visable to their nation especially given the number of citizens who serve in their reserve forces.
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