Air Force

November 16, 2012

Facial hair tradition in military goes way back

Senior Airman LIAM MILBURN
56th Medical Operations Squadron

There has always been a long-standing tradition of facial hair in the military. Over the centuries this tradition has evolved depending on the style and demand of the times. The Civil War saw some of the great military commanders sporting full beards that would put ZZ Top to shame. This trend most likely would have continued were it not for an inventive style of combat developed during World War I – gas warfare.

The Battle of Ypres in April 1915 saw the first use of poison gas as a weapon in modern warfare. This led to the advent of more sophisticated gas masks. Anyone who has been deployed remembers going for a gas mask fit test to ensure a proper seal. If there was any significant facial hair, it would impede that seal. So began the trend away from facial hair.

The Navy and Coast Guard held out longer, but eventually ended the custom of the salty sailor with an epic beard. Not even the submariners would be allowed to rock the Das Boot.

Civilian life at this time exhibited major leaders of business, art and entertainment all sporting very fashionable facial hair. Well-known business men such as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick had full beards. Kings of industry Andrew Mellon and John D. Rockefeller both sported full mustaches. Painter Salvador Dali was famous for his irreverent mustaches. It is, of course, impossible to forget Chaplin and Groucho Marx, of whom both donned “toothbrush” mustaches; although the latter phoned his in.

Then WWII happened. All of those returning clean cut GIs entering the workforce gave a new look to professionalism. The military then continued with this “new” professional look with its officers and NCOs acting as role models for younger service members.
Should they decide not to make a career of the military, they at least entered the workforce with an understanding of what a young professional should look like.

There are two exceptions to facial hair in the military. The first is a medical exemption for those who develop painful razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis barbae). It is a painful skin condition that is exacerbated by the act of shaving and can lead to infection. There is also a religious exemption for many Muslims, Jews and Sikhs who do not shave their faces. This exemption for devote members who wish to serve both their faith and their country, shows an acknowledgement of the ever-expanding multicultural military.

While the personal desires of this writer is to rock a pair of mutton chops that would put Gen. Ambrose Burnside to shame, I understand that my duty comes first. I must put aside a personal desire in order to maintain a professional demeanor.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Rain

Lakefront property …

A staff sergeant watches as water continues to flood a parking lot Monday in front the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit on Luke Air Force Base. The base experienced a two-inch rainfall causing flooding and delays around Luke.
 
 
courtesy-photo

Program ALIS initiated

No, it isn’t the Program Alice from the “Resident Evil” movies. It is the Autonomic Logistics Information Systems, also known as ALIS, which enables F-35 Lightning II operators to plan ahead to maintain and sustain its sy...
 
 

‘The butterfly effect’

Shortly after taking command, the Wild Duck Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge requested I explain to his Airmen exactly what the pilots would be doing on training missions during an upcoming temporary duty. I was embarrassed that he had to ask. In this specific case, I had thoughtlessly kept these details from our closest...
 

 

Advise Airmen of rights before asking questions

Every day supervisors are faced with challenging scenarios and situations that require them to engage in efforts to help their Airmen. When this engagement is due to a negative act such as theft, damage to property or other possible legal violations, we must resist the instinct to question them directly. One scenario I am presented...
 
 
Senior Airman 
GRACE LEE

Thunderbolts save volts

Senior AirmanGRACE LEE A solar array panel stands on a dormitory roof Sept. 3 at Luke Air Force Base. There are currently four active solar arrays on base. The solar array shown will produce hot water to the dormitory. With res...
 
 

News Briefs September 12, 2014

GOV service station closure The Base Service Station (government-owned vehicle gas station) will close at midnight Sept. 28 and reopen at midnight Oct. 1. For more information, email Staff Sgt. Bradley Ahlemeyer at bradley.ahlemeyer@us.af.mil or call 623-856-7391. Quit tobacco for 31 days The Stoptober Challenge is to be smoke free for the month of October....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin