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March 29, 2013

Building camaraderie the prickly way

FROM LEFT: 2nd Lt. John Patten, Capt. Dakota Olsen, 1st Lt. Jeffrey Whitford, Capt. Pete Sailhamer and 1st Lt. Joseph Valdez, 310th Fighter Squadron student pilots, ponder mustaches March 21 at Luke Air Force Base. The tradition of growing mustaches during March is attributed to Air Force triple-ace Robin Olds who grew an extravagantly waxed handlebar mustache which did not comply with Air Force regulations.

Camaraderie is built in a multitude of ways, such as lending a helping hand, working together on projects or playing team sports. But, during the month of March, Airmen from across base strengthen their camaraderie in a visual way.

Mustache March is an Air Force tradition where Airmen grow mustaches in a good natured protest against facial hair regulations. The act of growing a mustache is attributed to Air Force triple-ace Robin Olds who grew an extravagantly waxed handlebar mustache which did not comply with Air Force regulations.

“This is important because mustaches bring people together, and we wait for it all year,” said 2nd Lt. Rigel Valverde, 56th Contracting Squadron commodities team officer-in-charge. “It brings morale up in the work environment and is part of our Air Force culture.”

According to Valverde, this month is celebrated by thousands of Airmen around the world who have a true respect for the most stylish of all facial hair types, the mustache.

Airmen learn about it and begin participating in many different ways. For Master Sgt. Scott Harris, 56th Operations Group first sergeant, he first learned about it at U.S. Army Garrison, Yongsan, Republic of Korea.

“Upon arriving there March 10, 2010, members of my new unit said ‘Oh, you’re just in time,’ and I had no idea what they were talking about,” he said. “They brought up Mustache March. Even though I don’t grow facial hair very well, I decided to participate for the first time to be part of the team.”

It’s neat to see other Airmen become interested and take part in this event, Harris said.

“I encourage Airmen to participate in our tradition and heritage,” he said. “It’s not very often one gets to look hideous in uniform.”

Harris and Valverde take a “hairy look to the future as they envision how Mustache March will become.

“Every year it seems as though it grows more and more popular amongst Airmen,” Harris said. “I believe as new Airmen embrace the idea of upper lip foliage, it will really take off.”




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