It has come to my attention that my Air Force is lapsing into a groundless notion that addressing non-commissioned officers as "sir" and "ma'am" is somehow respectful.

For months I have failed to disabuse you of this notion. More than one non-commissioned officer struggled to become one. More than one non-commissioned officer struggled to prepare her Airmen to recognize rank, render each rank its proper respect, learn their own places, and aspire to higher rank themselves.

Every time you address an NCO as "sir" you are committing two offenses: you are showing disrespect to the place and the accomplishments of the NCO standing before you, and you are suggesting that you do not know, or do not attend to, the difference between brass and chevrons. This is one of the first things taught you when you stepped off the bus and into the Air Force; forgetting first-day material is not forgiveable.

I would argue that it constitutes a third offense, one to decorum and tradition. Some Airmen offer the rationale that "it couldn't hurt" to address an NCO as "sir" or "ma'am," that more politeness is better. I assure you it is not. Rather than being received as brownnosing, this careless form of address signals to the NCO that you literally don't know who you are talking to. Nor is it effective brownnosing to confuse an experienced, mature NCO---with humble beginnings just like your own---with a butterbar who's still finding his ass, or a squadron commander who probably knows your ass better than you do after a single glance at you.

If you want to go above and beyond, if you're convinced that more is better, then give General Jumper an extra five in the morning. Give up the cigarettes. Cut twenty seconds off your mile and a half. Finish your CDCs. Keep your genitals in your pants and keep your eyes open.

And call me Sergeant.

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