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.


 
 

 
Airman 1st Class James Hensley

Luke cuts ribbon on F-35 Academic Training Center

Airman 1st Class James Hensley Gen. Robin Rand, Air Education and Training Command commander, cuts the ceremonial ribbon Oct. 9 marking the completion of the academic training center building at Luke Air Force Base. The buildin...
 
 
Forino_J

U.S., Singapore partnership standout

Lt. Col. John Forino Aug. 9 marked the 49th anniversary of Singapore’s independence. The 425th Fighter Squadron is an operational squadron comprised of elite U.S. Air Force and Republic of Singapore air force personnel design...
 
 
shirts-graphicbw

‘Guts’ required to enforce standards

A few years ago, a fellow senior NCO requested I talk to her subordinate about her appearance, specifically pertaining to her hair. Naturally, I asked about what the issue was and why she couldn’t have a discussion with her o...
 

 
141008-F-HT977-008

Airmen get new ‘Community Commons’

Renovations on Bldg. 700, which houses the Health and Wellness Center, will take place April 2015 through spring 2016 at Luke Air Force Base. Subway and the barbershop will remain open during construction. Other amenities, such...
 
 

News Briefs October 17, 2014

Keep good mental health Calling all Airmen! Sleep disturbances such as insomnia and nightmares can affect people personally and professionally. Reaching out to a medical provider is a step in the right direction to good health. Courtesy of the 56th Medical Group Haunted house The 56th Mission Support Group is featuring Operation: Haunted Block House...
 
 

THUNDERBOLT OF THE WEEK

Jessica Behrens 56th Medical Support Squadron Pharmacist Hometown: Seneca, Missouri Years in service: Three Family: Husband, Chris; daughter, Katelyn, 2; son, Levi, 5 months Education: Bachelor’s degree from University of Arkansas and doctor of pharmacy from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska Previous assignments: Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida; Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Spring...
 




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