Mustache Madness

AFI 36-2903, Section 3.1.2.2. states, “… 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. See Figure 3-1, reference points B, C, and D.” (U.S. Air Force Graphic/Senior Airman Torey Griffith)

AFI 36-2903, Section 3.1.2.2. states, “… 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. See Figure 3-1, reference points B, C, and D.” (U.S. Air Force Graphic/Senior Airman Torey Griffith)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- As March rolls around, Team Whiteman may notice more and more facial hair around base. This is no coincidence, as some members on the base will be participating in Mustache March.

Some may be thick and full, some may be small and shaped, and some may not even resemble a mustache at all. Either way, the month promises to be fun, and a great morale builder for Team Whiteman.

This month-long tradition of mustache-growing prowess dates back to the Vietnam War, while the military mustache itself has even deeper historical roots.

Some claim the military 'stache started with Alexander the Great, the legendary king of Macedonia from 336-323 B.C., and conqueror of the known world at the time, who was said to have shaved his beard on the day of battle, leaving just the mustache, which he adorned with field rats' teeth.

Another famous warrior who sported the "lip sweater" was Genghis Khan, leader of Mongolia from 1162-1227 A.D. Khan's facial hair of choice was the "Fu Manchu." He is even quoted as saying, "A mustache is the mark of a warrior. It is a symbol of a strong heart and akin to likes of the dragon."

However, the Air Force's Mustache March all began with Robin Olds, a triple-ace fighter pilot, and his "bullet-proof mustache," which he grew during a deployment to Vietnam. According to legend, the forbidden facial hair that fighter pilots believed made their aircraft bulletproof became tradition in 1965.

Despite regulations, Olds decided to respectfully question the status-quo. So in March that year, he grew out his mustache, and the tradition was born.

In April, when Olds returned to the states, he was immediately ordered by Gen. John McConnell to shave it off. Ever since, pilots across the force have dedicated the month of March to paying tribute to Gen. Robin Olds and his bulletproof 'stache.

The tradition continues with pilots here at Whiteman, but members from other squadrons on base have also joined in on the fun.

"It's a great morale builder for the base," said Steven Lengfellner, 13th Bomb Squadron information assurance officer. "It's all for good fun and helps break up the time between the snowy winter and the rainy spring."

Lengfellner, a retired master sergeant, has sported a mustache since he was 15 years old, and has only shaved it three times since.

"I would like to see some of these guys keep it a little longer, because most of them shave it right away - if they even last the whole month," Lengfellner said. "At the same time, though, I would say be who you are. If the mustache isn't for you then don't keep it, but enjoy it while March lasts."

As March is underway, the mustaches will already be in full swing here at Whiteman. Let's see who can pull off the best mustache, but remember to keep in mind AFI 36-2903. Now, go make Gen. Olds proud.