Posted on Nov 3, 2014
SFC Vet Technician
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I was recently doing research that was tasked by one of the staff officers in my unit. Upon completion, I addressed the officer across the room: "Major 'Smith', I found what you were looking for...." The Major thanked me and asked me to forward it to him. Shortly afterwards, I was pulled aside by a SFC and informed that it was improper to address the officer in that manner; unless I was his peer or supervisor, I should always use "sir/ma'am".

I defended myself by pointing out that there were several "sirs" in the room and that required my use of Rank and Name to single out the target I was addressing.

My question for the RP nation: what is the correct protocol here?
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Responses: 35
LTC Battalion Commander
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The SFC is using his "interpertation" of the regulations. What you did is correct by the book and by practice.
The only other thing that I have to add is that the word is not "Sirs" it is "Gentlemen" if there is more than one present.
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MAJ Brigade Logistics Officer (S4)
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Yes, the plural of "Sir" is "Gentlemen", and the plural of "Ma'am" is "Ladies". Any two of the four can be used appropriately, depending on the composition of the group in question.

And in reference to the original posting, you were entirely correct in your situation to be more specific rather than simply using "sir".
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PO3 Donald Murphy
PO3 Donald Murphy
6 y
Thats really interesting. We would say "sirs" in the Navy if more than one. Then again, I'm going back to 1985-ish...
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CAPT Naval Aviator
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PO3 Donald Murphy - Nope, in the Navy as well, the plural of "Sir" is "Gentlemen."
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SSgt Owner/Operator
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3 y
You also have the usage of "Mister" for ranks of O-3 and below in the Navy. Technically for use by senior officers (O-4 and above). In the Marines, I never heard Mister even though we follow Naval Traditions.

I've used [Rank] [Last Name] several times and have never been chewed out for it. And I've done classes for full Company and Battalion complement and other than the starting "Gentlemen, are we ready?" query, never used any rank. It was just "Marines!"...
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Lt Col Aerospace Planner
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Edited >1 y ago
Sounds fine to me, especially if there were other officers in the room. If you just said sir, then which one? The only thing I remember when I was in Army ROTC that it seemed improper to call an officer by his/her rank alone without last name unless they were a GO.

Long story short, I don't think you did anything inappropriate.
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MAJ Operations Officer (Opso)
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You can address them by rank and last name or by Sir/Ma'am. That is the proper method. If peer or supervisor you call by rank and last name if in front of subordinates and then by just last name or first name if you are alone or in a group at his/her level and above (ie: address LT by their first name when you are a BC and the S3 and XO are present). Though many NCOs are upset that officers call each other by their first name. It is not within the regulations, but is a common practice.
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PO3 Jake Lucid
PO3 Jake Lucid
3 y
Unfortunately the enlisted are often burdened with custons and courtesies corrective actions....and officers many times forget to maintain the same formality of properly addressing one another in mixed company.
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