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The US military is one of those groups that really does have its own subculture and brotherhood. When you deal with a military person, you can expect them to defend themselves, have a certain level of discipline, and know how to make their beds the right way.
Military members are expected to bond with one another - and realistically, it probably helps them fight wars together. Things like bonding over bootcamp, having support at the VA, and even just having similar lives help our military members stay cohesive.
But, the lifestyle alone isn't what bonds the military together. It also has a lot to do with the traditions that the military has. Here are some you might not actually know about - but definitely are worth reading up on.
Fighter Pilots And The Final Flight
When you think of fighter pilots, you don't typically think of guys who are very silly about their lifestyle. After all, when you're piloting a several thousand pound aircraft into enemy territory, you could potentially die.
But, US fighter pilots have a way of laughing in the face of death...or after they skirt them. People who are fighter pilots are often nicknamed "fighter pilot mafia" because they're given unofficial nicknames.
Once a fighter pilot has finished his final round in enemy territory (or his last flight), his fellow pilots will give him a "rinse off." In other words, they take the guy and put a hose on him. Sometimes, they might get creative and use champagne or string cheese instead.
It's weird, but it sounds awesome.
"Crossing The Line"
Believe it or not, this military tradition existed in the navy before the US was even a country. Basically, this "off the books" tradition has navy officers dress up as Neptune and other characters in the sea court. The new recruits are called Pollywogs.
The ceremony starts by having new recruits entertain "the court" with song, poetry, and whatever else they can. The morning after, they get notes saying they have to go to Neptune's court to face charges.
The Pollywogs then eat food that's too spicy, have to perform a bunch of stunts, kiss the officer's stomachs, and ask to be a higher recruit level called a Shellback. The "court" agrees and they bathe the Pollywog in seawater, then calling him a Shellback.
According to a number of people, this military tradition is a naval tradition that is more or less a global phenomenon. That being said, modern policies tend to frown upon the "hazing" side of "Crossing the Line."
This kind of hazing event often won't happen on a military base, but rather on group outings. Even so, it does occasionally get caught happening in bases when more lenient officers are watching.
The Sword Detail Wedding Booty Tap
A common unspoken tradition among military families who have sword detail uniform weddings is the "Booty Tap." Basically, this one is fairly simple: when a woman marries into a military family, she gets her butt tapped by the "uniform sword" as a way of saying, "Welcome to the family."
Chauvinistic? Yes. But, it's still meant to be done in an endearing way.
Before deploying for the first time, infantrymen who belong to the Marine section of the army are expected to shave their heads. Repeat goers don't have this expectation. Though this isn't strictly enforced, newbies who go without shaving often end up in bad chore jobs as a result.
A lot of the military is about "putting some hair on your chest." Back in the day, members of armies used to award people who got pins with a little scar. They'd do this by literally pushing the pin into your chest until it bleeds.
This tradition, called getting "blood pinned" has been officially prohibited and banned by the US Military. However, the prohibition doesn't always reflect what happens. Though it is rarer these days, it still occasionally happens.
It often takes civilians by surprise to see how many military traditions are all about helping unite spouse with their military men and the military community. That's actually one of the main reasons why military balls, Dining Outs, and military spouse Coffees are as common as they are.
Most of these kinds of events are about introducing spouses to one another, giving them a sense of community, and just trying to make things work. Being a military spouse isn't easy, so the military does do work to try to keep military spouses by their husbands's sides.
The West Point Pillow Fight
At the end of every year, West Point first year cadets are often worn out, beaten down, and stressed out. Perhaps that's why they always host a massive, campus-wide pillow fight to relieve their stress! The tradition has been happening since 1897, and it used to be all about slugging the crap out of each other with fluffy pillows.
However, there have been incidents where personally jilted cadets had slipped hard objects into their pillows in recent years. Because of the actions of one (most likely expelled) cadet, over 30 other people ended up hospitalized with concussions.
Naval Academy shipmen celebrate their graduation on the ranks by covering a 21-foot statue in lard, then topping it with a "plebe" hat. Then, the new shipmen have to find a way to climb the statue, remove the hat, and replace it with a cadet hat.
Legend has it that the guy who gets to the hat will be the one who ends up getting the admiral rank first. That being said, we have absolutely no idea if that holds true.