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Doylestown native exchanges first salute with grandfather

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Nathanael Lee Poff exchanged his first salute with his grandfather, Jack Lee Poff of Phillipsburg, N.J., on Memorial Day, May 31.

Nathanael Poff received his commission as a U.S. Naval officer on May 29 in Castine, Maine; where he attended Maine Maritime Academy. Poff graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in marine engineering, passed his U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited Tonnage Master License, and was also a part of the Academy’s Naval ROTC Program.

He is a 2017 graduate of CB East and a resident of Doylestown.


Jack Poff is a retired Navy veteran, having served as a petty officer 2nd Class – boiler technician on the USS Fiske – a Gering class destroyer and serviced from 1954 to 1958 during the Korean War era.

The first salute tradition started in the 1700s when British naval regiments would assign an enlisted sailor to show the ropes to new midshipmen in training. The enlisted sailor was paid to provide instruction, mentoring and unit traditions while the midshipmen were going through their officer training. Typical pay for an enlisted sailor in the 1800s was approximately $25, plus a $3 ration allowance, and a $1 additional allowance as advisor to the midshipmen. In the late 1800s, the $1 allowance was discontinued, but the tradition continued.

Today, the newly commissioned officer’s first salute can be received from any respected enlisted sailor, either active or retired. Upon completion of the first salute, today’s tradition is for the newly commissioned officer to exchange a special silver dollar to commemorate the salute.


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