The silver dollar salute is a U.S. military tradition in which a newly commissioned officer (second lieutenants in the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force; ensigns in the Navy and Coast Guard) awards a silver dollar to the first enlisted person who salutes him or her. It’s a symbol of gratitude for the training and mentorship that an enlisted man has provided. The tradition can be traced to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, when NCOs were paid an extra stipend for helping train new officers. When the young U.S. government ended funding for the stipend, the officers paid the NCOs a piece of silver out of their own pockets.
After 10 weeks of being a mental and physical punishment sponge during Officer Candidate School, 2ndLt James Michael O’Neill returned his first salute on Friday. (The staff sergeant pictured above was a fellow officer candidate in Mike’s platoon who mentored Mike; he will pin on his lieutenant’s bars upon completing his degree as part of the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program).
Congratulations, Jersey Mike. Your journey has only just begun.