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.


 
 

 

Street Beat

The 56th Security Forces Squadron handled the following incidents July 15 through 20: Tickets Security forces issued citations for seven moving violations. Traffic-related incidents July 19: Security forces conducted a traffic stop for erratic driving and speeding, and detained a civilian driver for suspicion of underage drinking and driving while impaired. Glendale police responded and took...
 
 
23_Sports

Sports Shorts – July 25, 2014

Anthony Coleman, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron, lays up the ball during an intramural basketball game July 15 against Army at Luke Air Force Base. CES defeated Army 64-33. CES flattens Army in hoops Story and photo by Senior Ai...
 
 
Airman 1st Class 
PEDRO MOTA

MMA ramps up combat training

Airman 1st ClassPEDRO MOTA Team Ill Brasil brings a new style of martial arts to the base. The Luke Air Force Base Bryant Fitness Center now offers discipline specific martial arts training Monday through Friday at the Combat T...
 

 

DUI in Arizona: You can’t afford it

Arizona has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the United States. The average overall cost of a DUI in the state of Arizona is around $10,000. Crazy, right? Ten thousand dollars may seem hard to swallow at first, but first time offenders often find themselves paying considerable unforeseen expenses throughout the course of...
 
 

Is being good, good enough?

In today’s Air Force can you settle with just being good? I say, “No.” With the Air Force executing the deepest force cuts since the end of the cold war with programs such as the Quality Force Review Board and the Enlisted Retention Board, what you do and how well you do it matters more...
 
 

Your career – as easy as 1, 2, 3

Oftentimes at retirements we hear the phrase, “This is one chapter in my life.” No matter what our goal is, whether it is to serve for four years or 20 years, each of us will leave the Air Force at some point. This leads to the question, “What does it take to have an Air...
 




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