Mustache March, an Air Force tradition

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
We always hear our U.S. Air Force heritage is an important part of every Airman's life. I mean where would we be today without the Airmen before us? Yeah, probably stuck on the ground with the Army and that's no fun.

Sure, all the other services are a little older than us and have their traditions, but the one tradition I feel trumps them all is what we call: Mustache March!

Where did the Air Force's Mustache March come from you may ask? Well I'll tell you.

One myth of how it began started with a legendary triple-ace named Brig. Gen. Robins Olds. Olds found himself serving in the Vietnam War, where he grew his legendary mustache that pushed past the boundaries of regulations. This grandiose mustache was even rumored to be "bulletproof." Fellow Airman cherished Olds' mustache and this sowed the seed that grew mustache March into what it is today.

Let's all take a moment now and thank Olds, say it load and proud.

Thank you Brig. Gen. Robins Olds.

Now that's out of the way, let's take a look at the proper way to wear a mustache. Because unlike Olds, we cannot be out of the regulation. The number one place to find the regs on dress and appearance is Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel (which is probably ingrained in all our heads by now).

"Mustaches, if worn, 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," states AFI 36-2903.

AFI 36-2903, Paragraph are where standards are detailed about mustaches.

"The military uniform is more than just clothes," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Garrett Toomas, a 52nd Fighter Wing first Sergeant. "It is the public symbol of the nation's defense forces. The manner in which you wear the uniform reflects upon the entire U.S. Air Force in the public's eye. Since you will often be in the public eye, you must maintain a high standard of dress and personal appearance while wearing the Air Force uniform. The key elements are neatness, cleanliness, safety, and military image."

That means no western movie style mustaches where it curls all around your face. Just make sure you heed the standard, or you might find a high-ranking individual in your face stating something is not right. No one wants that.

Oh, and as far as beards go, only in certain circumstances can one be grown.

"Beards are not worn except when authorized by a commander, on the advice of a medical official, for health reasons," states AFI 36-2903. "If authorized by the commander, members must keep facial hair trimmed not to exceed .25 inches in length. If granted a shaving waiver, members will not shave any facial hair. Commanders and supervisors will monitor treatment progress to control shaving waivers."

Last word of advice. Mustaches have this ability to repel women and have a tendency to be the point of jokes in the office. I must tell you to be strong and grow your mustache proudly.

Flaunt it like you would a new pair of shoes! And always complement others on their mustache because they know the hardships of a mustache. At the end of the day, your mustache will always be there for you.

At least until April 1...