It’s been more than a few years since I’ve been in the Reserves, but occasionally I still find myself in conversations that have this sort of flavor.
Sometimes it’s just simple ignorance when they don’t get the various branches right, and they’re actually just trying to break the ice in order to ask some questions.
Other times they just want to brag in front of a service member about how they could have been their too if it weren’t for some conjured up bullshit excuse.
And then their are those who like to do this in front of onlookers, to show everyone how patriotically in touch they are by demonstrating their rapport with the troops.
Whatever the motive, it falls somewhere between awkward and embarrassing, so please avoid doing it.