by Maj. Jon Quinlan
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
So it’s March, and what’s the first thing you think about in this glorious month? Mustache March of course! This year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh issued a challenge to the force during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium to grow our mustaches in honor of our aviation heritage and to remember those brave Airmen who fought before us.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had an all-in Mustache March, have we?” Welsh said. “I’m putting the smack down on you guys. Air Force-wide Mustache March, MAJCOM competitions.”
What’s the deal with Mustache March and the Air Force? Three-time ace pilot Brig. Gen. Robin Olds was one of those legendary Airmen and he sported an equally legendary mustache. He was a “triple ace” with a combined total of 16 victories in World War II and the Vietnam War. Every March, I see his picture with his handlebar “bulletproof” mustache that he flagrantly wore against military regulations. Some say he was one of the greatest aerial warriors America ever produced, a fighter pilot’s “fighter pilot.”
This brings us to today and our generation of Airmen. Sure there is plenty of frustrating news about lowered budgets, draw downs and Air Force reductions in force. But, as professional Airmen, we should stay away from that noise. One way for me, and maybe you, is to grow and be proud of your mustache. Be proud to be an Airman and have pride of our traditions and heritage.
Yes, your wives, significant others, co-workers and bosses may ridicule your sorry excuse for a mustache. That’s what makes Mustache March so great! We know mustaches are generally at a low point of acceptance in America. But, we can keep it real and proudly grow our disturbing facial hair in the name of tradition and in accordance with AFI 36-2903. Maybe some of our units can even set up fundraisers to donate money for a good cause while having some fun too.
In case you were wondering, here is a excerpt from AFI 36-2903.
18.104.22.168. Mustaches. Male Airmen may have mustaches; however they will be conservative (moderate, being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme) and will not extend downward beyond the lip line of the upper lip or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from both corners of the mouth.
Our CSAF has thrown down the gauntlet. Let’s grow some mustaches.