7 Things That Make You Stick Out in the US Military




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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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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  • DAV 50

    The third guy back is out of step. Yes he will stand out in the Military!

  • Leon Suchorski

    I would like to comment on numbers 2, and 5. Marines don’t accept any less than the best from themselves, and that is the way that it is. In #2, you do not have to answer every question to be noticed by your superiors, they will notice you because that is their job to figure out who are the best parts to lead this machine that we call the military. Every station that I was at, I went there to do the best job that I could, and I was noticed for it. I did it because I was proud to be a Marine, and figured that any less would make me someone who should not be a Marine. And as to #5, I remember that while I was in boot camp, the next platoon over was mostly from Louisiana. Every time their DI called out their platoon number, they called back with the Aye aye sir, with that great Louisiana drawl, and the Di would have them repeat it. And the drawl would still be there. So he would yell at them that it was wrong, trying to correct them from that drawl. They never changed, and it was so funny to see the DIs try to change them. You had to be there, and you would have busted a gut every time.

  • lucky1

    Being fat

  • I was a search and rescue swimmer with the last name Fagan! In the navy, petty officer fag and, was popular lol good times

  • Dave Horner

    With my last name I heard all the jokes. At least most of ’em were funny!

    • Jasen Wenzelburger

      my name won’t help me out then. :(

      • Jack DePope

        Try me name.

  • Kevin Jackson

    As to #2, I taught officers, lt.s through field grade. That kind of student was also known as a “spring butt.” He/she tried too hard to dominate the discussion at the expense of others who actually studied and knew the subject matter but couldn’t contribute. When a question would be asked, spring butt would be the first with his hand up, or would stand up first, hence the name.

    • Leon Suchorski

      I once told my CO that he was F***ing things up when he wasn’t doing what I told him to do on my gear. He made no remark, except to do it properly.

  • Jeffrey Butters

    I fit almost every category, lord help me when I get into the military

  • War Pig

    #7 is especially true in boot camp, triply so in the Marines. We had a guy in our company at Marine Barracks in Key West, Florida in 1974/75 named, no foolin’, Dick Darling. Not Richard – Dick. And he had no middle name. He told us he caught holy living Hades in boot camp, as you can imagine. With the propensity for DIs making you shout out your name, last name first, you can imagine how it sounded. The DIs just loved it too much. So when one private would shout out in roll call; “Sir! Private Jones, Amos R, Sir!”, he had to shout out; “Sir! Private Darling, Dick, Sir!” and you can imagine it really went downhill for him from there. It was also a hit with new guys at the Marine Barracks, too, but they soon learned not to pick on him for it, as he would smash their noses. Like “A Boy Named Sue”, he was one tough son-of-a-gun. He had to be.