Showing off the hair above their lips — some more luxurious than others — Air Force officers paraded around the Joint Pub March 31 to celebrate “Mustache March.”
Air Force students from the Intermediate Level Education and School of Advanced Military Studies in the Command and General Staff College competed for “bravest mustache,” and “strongest mustache,” with a mutual support category for families. The mustache had to be within military regulations and grown between March 1-31.
The tradition of Airmen growing mustaches began with noted Air Force Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, veteran of both World War II and Vietnam conflicts. Olds, who had enough of a mustache to push the parameters of military regulations, was also known for bending the rules in combat to lead successful air battles.
Brig. Gen. Sean MacFarland, deputy commandant of the Command and General Staff College, commended the Air Force officers for their mustaches, putting the “hair in heritage.” Then, as part of tradition, he ordered the officers to shave them off.
Col. James Jinnette, director of the Air Force element at CGSC, reminded Air Force officers that although their history is shorter than other services in the military, it’s something that should make them proud.
“When you take command, I want you to make it a priority to educate Airmen on the long blue line stretching out behind them,” he said.
Jinnette also honored pilots now enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, some flying missions from the continental U.S. and back. A few CGSC students will soon be joining them, he said.
“We are carnivores, we are meat eaters, and we take the fight to the enemy for any reason,” he said.
In the spirit of brotherhood among the military, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and international officers came to support their Air Force friends.
To honor the spirit of joint warfighting, the Air Force Element donated an original painting by William S. Phillips to the Lewis and Clark Center. The painting depicts an air and land battle that took place in Afghanistan in May 2006.
Air Force Maj. Rick Goodman, ILE student in the 2011-02 class, and winner of the “Strongest” mustache, was involved in the battle. He said the Air Force mission was to support ground troops in the valley, who were being fired upon by insurgents in caves in the mountains. Fighter pilots struck two caves full of munitions, decimating them.
“It’s really humbling to be a part of something that’s in a painting,” Goodman told his fellow Air Force officers.
Jinnette said the battle was an example of Air Force pilots and Soldiers working together.
“I have a group of 100 of our finest officers, and I wanted an opportunity to share tradition, so as they leave here, they’ll take that tradition across the entire Air Force,” he said.