Under the Radar

7 Things That Make You Stick Out in the US Military

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BY DAVID NYE — WEARETHEMIGHTY​.COM

The military is one of those work environments where it’s generally best to blend in. Sure, you want to stand out during promotion boards or advancement exams, but the rest of the time it’s best for troops to keep their heads down.

Unfortunately, some people are cursed with traits that make that impossible. Here are 7 things that are guaranteed to draw extra attention.

1. Height

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Photo: US Army

Too-tall or too-short, both will make someone stand out. In formation, everyone is right next to each other and outliers are super obvious. At ceremonies, many units are reorganized according to height so the unit has a more uniform appearance.

2. Being a know-it-all

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Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman K. Cecelia Engrums

This person wants to stand out, but they shouldn’t. Answering a direct question is no big deal, and offering an informed opinion every once in a while is great. But people who answer every question in a class don’t get the “team” idea behind the military. And the rest of the team hates them for it.

3. Coming from another country

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Photo: US Navy Legalman 1st Class Jennifer L. Bailey

The U.S. military is predictably full of Americans, but some foreign people do join.

A few English or South African troops may be able to skate by under the radar, but most foreigners get found out immediately. As if it wasn’t hard enough to adjust to military culture, this recruit has to adjust to American culture at the same time. Every time they mess something up, some squad-jokester-wannabe will make a comment about how it’s because they didn’t grow up in America.

4. Being from Texas

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It’s like being foreign. Everyone has their favorite Texas jokes, Texas nicknames, and Texas memes. Once someone is outed as being a Texan, they will get saddled with all the Lone Star military stereotypes.

5. Having an accent

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Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann

Yeah, soldiers who talk funny are going to get noticed. It’s funniest when they have to speak in front of the unit. They’re up there talking about how their squad helped them get promoted or earn an award and the formation just stands there smiling like they understand any of the words being said.

6. Possessing no rhythm

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Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

In the civilian world, bad rhythm just makes it harder to meet people at clubs and square dances. But rhythm is key to military life. Units march in rhythm, troops exercise in rhythm, and new tasks are taught “by the numbers” where students practice things like landing in a parachute in a set rhythm.

A service member with no rhythm sticks out and gets ridiculed. In basic training, it’s even worse since it draws the eyes of the dreaded training cadre.

7. Carrying a funny or famous last name

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Meme via OutOfRegs.com

As a civilian, someone’s last name isn’t all that visible. It’s in email signatures, and that’s about it. But in the military, a person’s last name is their primary name. It’s on their shirts, it’s beneath any pictures of them, and it’s on most of their hats. Some people don’t know their buddy’s first name until they friend each other on Facebook.

So, when someone’s last name is “Nye,” everyone knows. And that person can’t walk into a room without someone singing the Bill Nye theme song.

classedit2 David Nye - Staff Writer at We Are The Mighty

David is a former Fort Bragg paratrooper who deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.


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