What do I call this guy?
January 29, 2010 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Army filter: How do I refer to a recruit in basic training in the army?

I need to send a letter to the commanding officer about someone in his command in basic training in the Army.
The recruit's name I was given is "PUT Doe, John A."

PUT? Shouldn't that be PVT? What does PUT mean? Is it correct?

I can go back to the person who gave me the info if I have to, but English is his second language and even if he has it written down as PUT I am not sure that I trust it.

I really don't want to send a professional letter and up sounding ignorant.

Thanks MeFi!
posted by SLC Mom to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
Was the information you were given handwritten? V and U are pretty indistinguishable when written by hand.
posted by dfriedman at 1:11 PM on January 29, 2010

Almost certainly Pvt, but it's not incorrect to spell out Private.
posted by theora55 at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2010

Or another possibility if the information you received was digital: the person typing was dyslexic and mistook a U for a V.

PVT seems the most likely answer. Or Private.
posted by dfriedman at 1:18 PM on January 29, 2010

Some recruits may earn the rank of Private-First Class before basic training (and would be addressed as PFC So And So), but it's likely in this case that the soldier is Pvt. John Doe.
posted by muddgirl at 1:39 PM on January 29, 2010

According to this official army page, an enlisted soldier "starting Basic Combat Training" would be referred to as a PV1 or PVT (they're different acronyms for the same rank). It's possible that the soldier could be a higher rank -- a PV2 or even a PFC -- but relatively unlikely.

(Note: My brother's a PV2 in the Army Reserve, and that's the extent of my formal experience with this.)
posted by malthas at 2:30 PM on January 29, 2010

All soldiers in Basic Training are referred to as "Private", regardless of their actual pay grade. They're not entitled to wear rank insignia until they graduate from basic training. I'd refer to the individual as "Private"; you should be okay.
posted by jasondbarr at 2:54 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

The soldiers in Basic are always Privates. They can be different ranks of Private, but they will still be called Private. A PV1, PV2, and PFC will still be addressed as Private. Write out Private and you'll be fine.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:55 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing those who say "Private" will work, with the addition that commanding officers in these sorts of units are very used to dealing with family members, friends, acquaintances, creditors etc. who don't know anything about the military, and they won't toss your letter in the trash just because the rank isn't exactly correct.
posted by Etrigan at 5:29 PM on January 29, 2010

Thanks very much to everyone. "Private" it is.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:45 PM on January 29, 2010

Follow up: It was 'Pvt.' I wrote, the CO's office was nice as pie, and happiness abounds.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:42 PM on February 15, 2010

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