The Gentleman

My brother is a Navy pilot and his callsign is The Gentleman. He’s currently deployed in Afghanistan far, far away from his home in Maine. This is his current dispatch.

I have attached a photo of our squadron taken about three weeks ago. The mustache is not yet fully matured in the photo and I ended up cutting my hair the day after. You probably will have a hard time picking me out because we all look the same!

Editor’s note: My brother has never been able to achieve a fully matured mustache even though he has enough hair on his legs to provide a wig for at least ten ladies. Thank heavens he has a squadron to keep the overall standard high both now and the last time they all grew mustaches leading up to their qualls, the arduous qualification process that culminates with landing on a carrier. Think basketball teams that shave their heads before tournament time, only a heck of a lot more pressure.

What a sharp squadron! Facial hair in the military is an interesting topic and though my brother has explained much of this to me before I’m going to default to a quick excerpt from Wikipedia here:

The United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps have policies that prohibit beards on the basis of hygiene, the necessity of a good seal for gas masks, and the official position that uniform personal appearance and grooming contribute to discipline and a sense of “esprit.” All branches of the U.S. Military currently prohibit beards, although some mustaches are still allowed, based on policies that were initiated during the period of World War I. On November 10, 1970, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Elmo Zumwalt explicitly authorized beards for active duty Naval personnel, in his Z-gram number 57, “Elimination of Demeaning or Abrasive Regulation,” although his position was that they were already implicitly allowed based on policy changes made by his predecessor, Thomas H. Moorer:

1. Those demeaning or abrasive regulations generally referred to in the fleet as “Mickey Mouse” or “Chicken” regs have, in my judgment, done almost as much to cause dissatisfaction among our personnel as have extended family separation and low pay scales. I desire to eliminate many of the most abrasive policies, standardize others which are inconsistently enforced, and provide some general guidance which reflects my conviction that if we are to place the importance and responsibility of “the person” in proper perspective in the more efficient Navy we are seeking, the worth and personal dignity of the individual must be forcefully reaffirmed. The policy changes below are effective immediately and will be amplified by more detailed implementing directives to be issued separately.
A. It appears that my predecessor’s guidance in May on the subject of haircuts, beards and sideburns is insufficiently understand and, for this reason, I want to restate what I believed to be explicit: in the case of haircuts, sideburns, and contemporary clothing styles, my view is that we must learn to adapt to changing fashions. I will not countenance the rights or privileges of any officers or enlisted men being abrogated in any way because they choose to grow sideburns or neatly trimmed beards or moustaches or because preferences in neat clothing styles are at variance with the taste of their seniors, nor will I countenance any personnel being in any way penalized during the time they are growing beards, moustaches, or sideburns.

Happy Fourth to my brother and his squadron! Today we celebrate the freedom of your facial hair in the military and, of course, the freedom that you fight for and that we live in back here in the States. Come home soon.